“White” federal workers will not include Middle Eastern and North African heritage under the new Biden plan

the Biden administration She proposes changing the way it collects data on federal workers that would allow employees to identify themselves as of Middle Eastern or North African descent, rather than as “white.”

On Thursday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced a series of proposed changes to the race/ethnicity data it has kept since 1977. The OMB said the changes are warranted because people’s preferences for how they identify have changed.

The Office of Management and Budget said in its proposal that there have been “significant social, political, economic, and demographic shifts in the United States throughout this period,” citing the following examples: increased racial and ethnic diversity; an increasing number of people who identify as more than one race or ethnicity; And change migration and migration patterns.

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The Biden-Harris administration is proposing changes to the way race/ethnicity data is collected on federal workers.
(Tony L Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

One such change may affect the current language that requires people to identify themselves as “white” if they have “ancestry in any of the indigenous peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.” But the proposed change from the Office of Management and Budget said many are asking for a new category separate from white people of European descent.

“The presenters called for Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) residents to be recognized and respected by becoming a new and distinct category of reporting because many of the Middle East and North African community, for example, do not share the same lived experience as white people people of European descent, do not identify as white, and are not perceived as white by others.”

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The Office of Management and Budget also said that the new “Middle East and North Africa” ​​category would “recognize this community.”

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The Office of Management and Budget, headed by Shalanda Young, is proposing changes to the way data is collected about the race and ethnicity of federal workers.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Office of Management and Budget, headed by Shalanda Young, is proposing changes to the way data is collected about the race and ethnicity of federal workers. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The goal of the government’s data collection efforts is to “ensure comparability of race and ethnicity across federal data sets and to maximize the quality of that data by ensuring that the format, language, and procedures for data collection are consistent and rigorously evidence-based.”

The Office of Management and Budget has proposed other changes to the way data is collected and presented, including by looking for race and ethnicity information in a single question. She said many people confuse the two terms and suggested a question begs the question of the “race or ethnicity” of federal workers.

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President Biden's administration is looking to give federal workers more options when it comes to determining their racial and ethnic background.

President Biden’s administration is looking to give federal workers more options when it comes to determining their racial and ethnic background.

The Office of Management and Budget proposed several other wording changes, such as replacing “Far East” with “East Asia” from the definition of “Asia”, and ending the use of the terms “majority” and “minority”.

The OMB said those last two terms “may be viewed by some as pejorative and non-exhaustive.”

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The proposal is not final, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is seeking public input on these ideas through mid-April.

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