Federal OMB Office Decide Not To Disaggregate Native Black Americans: Lineage-Based Reparations Community Responds

Federal OMB Office Decide Not To Disaggregate Native Black Americans: Lineage-Based Reparations Community Responds


Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

The Federal Office of Management and Budget’s recent decision not to disaggregate data for Native Black Americans has caused the lineage-based reparations movement to speak out. The OMB’s decision is part of the revisions to Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (Directive No. 15), which sets standards for maintaining, collecting, and presenting federal data on race and ethnicity.

The revisions to Directive No. 15, the first since 1997, were published on March 28. The process leading to these revisions began in June 2022 with the formation of the Interagency Technical Working Group, comprised of federal government career staff representing programs that collect or use race and ethnicity data, according to a press release from the White House. According to the press release, the group reviewed thousands of comments and held numerous listening sessions over the course of several months to finalize the standards.

Key revisions include combining race and ethnicity into one question and adding Middle Eastern or North African as a new minimum category. The other minimum categories are American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and white.

With updated federal race and ethnicity standards, individuals of Latino descent will no longer be required to indicate their Hispanic identity separately from selecting a race. Additionally, approximately 7 to 8 million individuals of Middle Eastern or North African heritage will no longer be compelled to categorize themselves as “white” or “other” on census forms, NBC News reported.

The subcategories for the Middle Eastern or North African category are “Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, Israeli, etc.”

The decision not to disaggregate Native Black Americans has drawn criticism from the lineage-based reparations community. Disaggregation is crucial for accurately capturing the experiences and needs of specific communities, including Native Black Americans, who have distinct historical and social contexts. A 2022 Forbes article entitled “Black Is Not A Monolith: An Exploration Of How The Black American And Black Immigrant Experiences Diverge” points out that the Native Black American has a totally difference experience than the Black immigrant, the two are not interchangeable.

The decision not to disaggregate Native Black Americans raises concerns about the potential impact on addressing disparities and implementing targeted interventions. By treating Black Americans as a homogeneous group, the unique challenges faced by Native Black Americans may be overlooked.

X/Twitter user Michael R Hicks a/k/a Mza The Watcher tweeted to TheQueenofLA, “There’s 40 million Black American chattel slavery descendants in the country, give or take. Charitably, .01% of us (about 4K) actively engage in politics, & maybe 1% of our people have even *heard* any of those terms.”

TheQueenofLA replied, “Not even 1% you are being generous. I agree with you. It seems most people didn’t read the OMB guidelines. They clearly stated no new terms would be introduced unless it was WIDELY known. People are only interested in their ego and not doing what’s best for the community”.

The American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) Advocacy Foundation co-founder Yvette Carnell tweeted the link to the organization’s official statement. The statement, in part, reads: “We at the ADOS Advocacy Foundation (ADOS AF) and ADOS Empowerment Project (ADOS EP) are deeply disappointed with the OMB’s Notice of Decision. At the same time, the OMB agreed to require the disaggregation of data on other groups. Yet, the Bureau has called for ‘more study’ on whether ADOS have the right to see their collectively tumultuous lived experience belied by the data.”

It continued, “For our group especially, the implications of such a punt are profound. We recommended that the OMB disaggregate the category of ‘Black’” ‘ and introduce a new ethnic designation —’American Descendant of Slavery,’ or ‘ADOS’ — to refer to and distinguish the descendants of chattel slavery in America from Black people whose families came to the U.S. via immigration.”

DAP/ADOS TRIBE tweeted, “‘For future research?’ How long do American Descendants of Slavery need to wait to be acknowledged by the US government as a unique group?

Nik #ADOS also called out the revisions, tweeting, “It looks like the OMB is complicit in our erasure. They want to conflate us with Black immigrants to muddy our justice claim which is so evident.”

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-holding-an-american-flag-4995753/Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-holding-an-american-flag-4995753/