How Do You Determine What Race You Are?

You can determine your race as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget by looking at the race listed on your birth certificate. You can also ask your parents, examine the United States Census Bureau’s race classifications to see which categories apply to you and take a genetic ancestry DNA test to determine your racial heritage.

As of 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau recognizes five racial classifications. The white, or Caucasian, race includes people whose ancestors are the original inhabitants of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Those descended from the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa are considered Black or African-American. Descendants of the original inhabitants of North, Central and South America fit the American Indian and Alaska Native racial category if they maintain an affiliation to their racial tribe or community. The Asian race includes people whose ancestors are from Southeast Asia, the Far East and the Indian subcontinent. Anyone descended from the original peoples of Samoa, Guam, Hawaii and other Pacific islands fits the Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander category.

As of 2000, the Census Bureau allows people to choose more than one race based on their own racial self-identification. The Bureau’s classifications are determined by social definitions of race in the United States, and not intended to define race in a biological or genetic sense.