Racial identity can be a mixed bag with no two people calling themselves the same thing. For example, eyebrows were raised when the president decided to check “African-American” on his 2010 Census form, given his biracial background. So it’s no surprise that the results of the 2010 Census have illuminated just how specific racial identities can be. The Huffington Post reports that according to a preliminary Census analysis, roughly one million respondents were in the black category but specified “other” instead.

They wrote in racial identities like, “black (366,000); Haitian (222,000); African-American (137,000); Jamaican (104,000); West Indies (83,000); African (73,000); Ethiopian (46,000); Negro (36,000); Trinidad and Tobago (34,000); Nigerian (15,000); and Afro-American (7,000).” Multiracial Americans self identified most frequently as mixed, biracial, brown, multiracial, mulatto multiethnic. Combined, they came to 374,400 people.

When the 2010 census asked people to classify themselves by race, more than 21.7 million — at least 1 in 14 — went beyond the standard labels and wrote in such terms as “Arab,” “Haitian,” “Mexican” and “multiracial.”

The unpublished data, the broadest tally to date of such write-in responses, are a sign of a diversifying America that’s wrestling with changing notions of race.

The figures show most of the write-in respondents are multiracial Americans or Hispanics, many of whom don’t believe they fit within the four government-defined categories of race: white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native. Because Hispanic is defined as an ethnicity and not a race, some 18 million Latinos used the “some other race” category to establish a Hispanic racial identity.

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