I Am What I Say I Am

Why the new Census categories help melt away categorical thinking about race

According to Russell (my personal trainer by night, a lawyer by day, and a philosopher by disposition), I have white calves. Not white as in pasty, but as in Caucasian. My calves are--how to put it?--substantial, and their shape not only pegs me racially, Russell says, but also makes clear what kind of runner I would be (distance) if, say, hell were to freeze over and I were to take up that sport.

When I filled out my Census form last spring, the issue of my calves never came up. What did arise, however, was a new option that allowed Americans...

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