Effort to add “Burmese” to the U.S. Census

I recently learned about an interesting effort by the Burmese American community to have “Burmese” added to the U.S. census’ list of races, for a more accurate population count of the Burmese community in the States. According to the Burmese Complete Count Committee,

Burmese in general means everyone who is a descendent from current Burma or Myanmar. According to this definition, all ethnic groups and tribes who originated from the country Burma or Myanmar are included. Definition of Burmese is different from Bama. Burmese is inclusive of Mon, Karen, Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Shan, Lisu, Bama, Kayah, Palaung, Padaung, Pa-O, etc.

In the 2000 Census, only Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese were included as choices. It will be interesting to see whether the 2010 Census does include an option for “Burmese,” when larger communities like Thai Americans are not yet included. I don’t know how effective adding Burmese will be to the U.S. Census, because many Burmese Americans are either mixed Chinese or Indian (and would naturally gravitate  to the more visible groupings), or refugees from ethnic minorities that generally do not associate themselves with being “Burmese.”

Nevertheless, I think it’s a step in the right direction in making the Burmese American community more visible.

2 thoughts on “Effort to add “Burmese” to the U.S. Census

  1. arunlikhati says:

    Interesting. According to what I’ve read, respondents have had the option of writing in “Burmese” as an ethnic category — which many did. Of course, since the BCCC is working with the U.S. Census Bureau on this, they surely have a better understanding of this issue than I do.

    The interesting definition of “Burmese” with national borders rather than by cultural patterns may prove to be problematic. I think all the issues you point out there are very real. As a comparison, the U.S. Census counts people of Hmong descent (almost all of who came from Laos) as separate from “Laotians”, the latter of whom I assume are ethnically Lao people.

  2. thet-shay nyunt says:

    Counting by race, as good as it sounds, is the continuing effort to stigmatize ethnicity. It is a ploy to get some of the “right niggers” in place to rule over minorities.

    Look at the Black and Mexican communities and see how this “elite” lords over their respective ghettos and barrios. Those communities are hell holes of poverty and despair. Just take a look at the new immigrant waves of the Laotians, Hmong and Vietnamese.

    The first two are consigned to despair and poverty in their ghettos, while Vietnamese have retained autonomy. Look at who prospers and who despairs, the ones given government help. Now it’s the Burmese and they have a choice, become American or get ready for years in the ghetto that will destroy the lives of people, who’ve already lived in hell.

    I’ve been here for fifty years. We were poor, called every insult and now we’ve prospered, through hard work and not liberal hand outs.

    Respect for elders will be the first thing that goes, and with it all that is good about the Burmese, their generosity and their heritage. Mark my words.

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