- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

More multiracial Americans live in the West than in any other region of the country.

The nation's biggest cities also are home to large numbers of U.S. residents who identify with two or more races, according to a 2000 Census report released yesterday. Of the 6.8 million multiracial Americans, nearly 400,000 live in New York and about 200,000 reside in Los Angeles.

The 2000 Census was the first count to give people an option to check more than one race on their forms. As a result, the 63 race categories, compared with five in 1990, make direct comparisons throughout time impossible.

Yet for people such as Irene Carr of Chicago it represents progress. Mrs. Carr, who is white, has three grown sons by her deceased husband, who was black. Nearly 20 years ago, she founded a support group for interracial families.

"I encouraged people to check everything that applied to them," Mrs. Carr said. "This idea that gets so fixed in people's minds that we are somehow different … it somehow bugs me."

Ramona Douglass, spokeswoman for the Association of Multiethnic Americans, said, "It's been a learning experience for us since we didn't have this data in the past."

For instance, the figures could give school administrators a better idea of the more diverse child population they must educate, she said.

Nationally, about 2.4 percent of the country's population of 281 million considered themselves as belonging to more than one race.

Previously, the Census Bureau released a report on exactly which race combinations people identified themselves as and included age breakdowns. Yesterday's report also summarized data already released this year.

It found that 40 percent of multiracial Americans lived in the West. That is not surprising, considering the region includes Hawaii, which historically has had a high percentage of marriage between people of various races, said John Logan, a sociologist at the University of Albany in New York.

More than one in five Hawaiians identified themselves as multiracial, the highest percentage of any state.

By city, Honolulu had the sixth-highest number of multiracial people, at 55,474. That represents 15 percent of its residents, the largest proportion in the nation for a city of more than 100,000 residents.

California was home to six of the next seven cities with the highest proportions of multiracial people. Those cities included Glendale (10 percent), Stockton (7 percent) and Sacramento (6 percent).

Slightly less than 5 percent of New York City's 8 million residents identified as multiracial, totaling 393,959, the highest number among cities. It was followed by Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

Figures released this year revealed that 42 percent of people who checked more than one race were younger than 18. Only 25 percent of those who selected one race were that young, a sign that the country's racial and ethnic mix will become even more complex in the future, Mr. Logan said.

"Questions like 'Who needs to benefit from public policy?' and 'Who is a minority?' these questions have become more difficult to answer, but it is in fact a reality," he said.

Other findings:

•Only California had a multiracial population of more than 1 million. The next highest state was New York, with 590,182.

•Almost two-thirds of the multiracial population lived in 10 states: California, New York, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, Michigan and Ohio.

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