One in 14 Resist Race Labels on Census

Many Americans feel as if they do not fit in with any of the four government-defined categories of race on the official form. 

Posted: 02/01/2012 07:15 PM EST

New data is suggesting that many Americans feel as if they do not “fit in” with the four government-defined categories of race on the 2010 Census: White, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native.

The unpublished data gathered by the Associated Press shows that more than 21.7 million — at least 1 in 14 people — went beyond the standard labels and wrote terms such as “Mexican,” “Haitian,” “Arab” and “multiracial.”

The data is the broadest tally of such write-in responses and suggests American’s are wrestling with the changing notions of race.

Eighteen million Latinos, for example, chose “some other race,” because Hispanic was defined as an ethnicity and not a race.

"I have my Mexican experience, my white experience, but I also have a third identity, if you will, that transcends the two, a mixed experience," Thomas Lopez, 39, a write-in respondent from Los Angeles told the AP.

Over three million write-ins came from people who did not identify with the standard terms. Among them are Arabs, Iranians and other Middle Eastern groups as well as Italians, Germans, Haitians and Jamaicans who consider their ancestry a core part of their identity.

Among Blacks, more than 36,000 described themselves as "Negro" in whole or in part. More than half a million Black Americans wrote in answers to signify their preferred term for Black, including African-American, Afro-American, African, Negro, mulatto, brown and coffee.

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(Photo: Charles Bowman/Getty Images)