New Yorkers may soon be able to identify as more than one race on city documents.
The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held a hearing on the bill on Monday. The legislation was introduced last November by Councilwoman Margaret Chin, and advocates say demographic data will be more accurate if New Yorkers are able to identify as more than once race.
Census data from 2010 shows New York City leading the country with more than 320,000 residents identifying as multiracial, but have to check a single box when filling out city documents, including applications for jobs, public housing, tax licenses and complaints.
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“When a government form tells a person of multiracial heritage that they need to just ‘check one box,’ it’s like saying that our government doesn’t recognize that there are people of multiracial heritage. Forms like these seem to harken back to our country’s dark history of segregation and laws against mixed-race marriages,” Chin said during the hearing. “And it’s actually surprising, and a bit embarrassing, that our city government has not kept up with the times. So this hearing today is not just about mundane governmental forms. It’s about our city’s ability to embrace diversity and to allow individuals to celebrate their heritage.”
Chin’s office said a mayor’s office representative supported the change during the hearing.