Being Brazilian is not an “other” option


Marking “other” on surveys as part of my racial demographic is insulting and belittling to my ethnicity.

The SF State Climate survey asked me to define my race as: African American, Asian, White, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Other. Many surveys also ask me, “Are you Hispanic or Latino?” As a Brazilian, I do not categorize myself under the Latino or Hispanic origin, so I am forced to mark no, when I wish a survey asked, “Are you Brazilian?” 

I was born in the United States and have dual Brazilian and U.S. citizenship. I’ve had to deal with ethnic assumptions my entire life, and seeing the word “other” on yet another form I’ve completed makes me feel alone, unwanted and stereotyped in my ethnicity.

The U.S. Census Bureau needs to modify census demographics to include “Brazilian” as one of the options for someone’s ethnicity to make people feel more comfortable and included. Other ethnicities that are not seen in surveys as well such as people from the Middle East need to be listed as an option on surveys as well.

I identify my ethnicity as Brazilian because I speak Portuguese to my parents and Brazilian family and I participate in Brazilian traditions such as wearing white on New Years Eve to attract peace. I am completely associated with being a Brazilian woman and I deserve to see the word Brazilian be recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau.

I am proud to be of mixed heritage. My mom’s side of the family is Brazilian and my dad’s side of the family is Panamanian. My dad was born in the United States, and considers himself more American. Although my father identifies as an American, I consider myself primarily a Brazilian in terms of my ethnicity because I have adapted the Brazilian culture in my life.

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently experimenting with new ways to ask Americans about their race in the 2020 census, including the option of not using the word race at all, according to the Pew Research Center.

The problem with previous national census surveys is providing limited options in terms of racial demographics, forcing confusion and uncertainty in the minds of those who are unsure of where to place themselves.

Officials of the U.S. Census Bureau are planning to send out “test” forms this year that do not include the word race and is replaced with the word category instead.

“In an effort to get better response rates, the Bureau is currently testing new wording in questionnaires that have been currently put out to 1.2 million homes,” an article from CBC World News said. “Some test forms drop the ‘race’ term completely and leave it wide open by asking, ‘Which categories describe you?'”

If a test form landed on my door step today, I would quickly fill out the survey and proudly write that being Brazilian best describes me in a category.

Instead of eliminating the word “race” altogether, the U.S. Census Bureau needs to properly list every identified race instead of lumping Brazilians into the “Latino” or “Other” category.