Tue, Jul 09, 2019 - Page 13 News List

Ahead of the count

Advocates begin mobilizing support for writing in ‘Taiwanese’ as one’s race for the 2020 US census

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter

Yeh Chieh-ting (葉介庭), Ketagalan Media cofounder who is handling media relations for the Taiwanese write-in campaign, attributes the population jump to a similar outreach effort in 2010.

“We’re talking about people over this 10 year period who decided that it was worth their while to bother to check ‘other’ and to write in ‘Taiwanese’ and to spell it correctly,” Yeh says, adding that they’re trying to keep the momentum going for 2020.

Ling says he believes the Taiwanese community was still vastly undercounted in the last census, though a Census Bureau report in 2012 found that Asians in general were not.

The Census Bureau said information about the 2020 census will be mailed out to most addresses beginning next March. People will be able to respond online, by mail or by phone.

The race question allows respondents to mark one or more boxes and write in their origins. It features checkboxes for Chinese, Korean and Japanese, among others, but not for Taiwanese.

The Write In Taiwanese Census 2020 Campaign urges people filling out the census to write in “Taiwanese” if they or their family came from Taiwan, or if they can trace some of their heritage to the country.

Apart from the question of identity, advocates point out that being specific about subgroup on the race question helps expose differences and disparities within the vastly diverse Asian American community.

That nearly four in five Taiwanese in the US have a bachelor’s degree or higher, or that 4 percent of Taiwanese have no health coverage, are statistics that otherwise would get lost if respondents did not write in Taiwanese.

But that data, advocates caution, is accurate only when all Taiwanese living in the US complete the questionnaire — and indicate that, in fact, they are Taiwanese.

“Writing in Taiwanese is important because the community of Taiwanese Americans does exist, with all its heritages and narratives about who we are,” Yeh ays. “So we’d like that to be reflected as accurately as possible in the official government data of the United States.”

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