‘Director, we need to get it right because I am not white…’
During a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Tlaib asked Dillingham why the 2020 census does not include a “Middle Eastern/North African” option as an ethnic category.
“Do I look white to you?” Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, exclaimed.
Dillingham began to explain that there is a write-in option for those who can’t find their ethnicity among the listed categories, but Tlaib quickly cut him off and said that forcing minorities to “circle white” on the census diminishes their “lived experience as a person of color.”
Tlaib then cited an Obama-era study which suggested the census include a “Middle Eastern/North African” option, and accused the Trump administration of trying to make her “invisible” by ignoring that recommendation.
“They went through the process, and they got it approved. And this administration decided to ignore them and make them invisible again,” she said. “Right? That is what you are doing, you’re making us invisible. No, the continued absence of this ethnic category contributes to erasing us.”
Tlaib then reiterated that she is not white.
“Director, we need to get it right because I am not white. I’m not. And I don’t try to say to others that you should be this or that. But when I sit on this form and I look at it, I don’t see myself represented on this form. And I think that’s a huge issue for people like me.”
When Dillingham suggested that her concerns could be taken into consideration for the 2030 census, Tlaib snapped: “It’s too late.”