The Meaning of Race in a 21st-Century America

Given our nation’s demographic shifts, the America of the 21st century will not only look different than in years past, but the implications on race and ethnicity labels will inevitably shift from the traditional black-white paradigm. The federal government currently has five minimum categories for data on race and ethnicity: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. Additionally, there are two categories for data on ethnicity: “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino.” These categories carry considerable historical weight based on past patterns of racial discrimination, colonization, and immigration. As the mixed-race population grows, the concept of racial and ethnic identity is more fluid than ever.

How does the self-perception of certain demographic communities differ from how they are perceived by others? As the multiracial population grows, how can we create a space both in our communities and in our data collection surveys to make sure they are accurately represented? Will redefining race and ethnicity categories produce better data for informing public policy?

Please join us for an in-depth discussion on the meaning of race and ethnicity in a changing America.

Featured speakers:
Rinku Sen, President and Executive Director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation
Julie Dowling, Associate Professor, Department of Latina/Latino Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Roderick Harrison, Senior Research Fellow, Civic Engagement and Governance Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy, NAACP

Moderated by:
Vanessa Cárdenas, Vice President, Progress 2050, Center for American Progress


Center for American Progress, 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC , 20005

Additional information

A light lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m.