Racial Classification of Indian Americans - U.S. Census

U.S. Census

Further information: Race and ethnicity in the United States Census

Earlier Census forms from 1980 and before listed particular Asian ancestries as separate groups along with White and Black or Negro. Previously, Asian Americans were classified as "other". But the 1980 census marked the first general analyses of Asians as a group, combining several individual ancestry groups into "Asian or Pacific Islander." By the 1990 census, Asian or Pacific Islander (API) was included as an explicit category, although respondents had to select one particular ancestry.

The U.S. Census Bureau has changed over the years its own classification of Indians. In 1930 and 1940, Indian Americans were classified as "Hindu" by "Race", and in 1950 and 1960, they were classified as Other Race, and in 1970, they were classified as White. Since 1980, Indians, and all other South Asians, have been classified as part of the Asian race.

Professor Madhulika Khandelwal, while serving on the National Board of Asian-American Studies, accredits activism as the catalyst for the 1980s U.S. Census re-classification of Indians. A write-in response of "Indian" in the "Some other race" line of the US Census does not get the respondent classified as a race, since it is unspecified whether the respondent is an Asian Indian or an American Indian. Accordingly, the US Census uses the term "Asian Indian" to make the group in question clear.

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