Census Repost

By : Chrissy LeMaire | 0 Comments | On : April 2, 2005 | Category : Cajun Country Blog

I finally got ahold of a super nice lady at the ethnic department of the Census bureau. My last post was so inaccurate that I removed it. To summarize, I’ll just post a letter I wrote to the US Representative of my hometown (Kaplan, LA), Mickey Frith.
Mr, Mickey,
You may remember me – I’m Ruby’s daughter. How have you been?
I’ve got a question/proposition. I do not know if you are familiar with the Cajun/Census fiasco but if not, here’s a summary.
Most of us Cajuns think that we are just Caucasian/American. We do not realize that we are an ethnic group too and thus many of us fail to report it on the US Census. As a displaced Cajun living in Los Angeles, I’m now very aware of what it means to be Cajun and I’m extremely proud of my heritage/ethnicity.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy defines ethnicity as “Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group’s customs, beliefs, and language. “ We Cajuns certainly have our own distict customs, beliefs and language. We also have our own folklore, music and art. You’ll even notice that “Cajun” is mentioned on the US Census’ Ancestry FAQ page. So it’s officially established that we are an ethnicity but our numbers are not accurately reflected in the US Census.
 The census survey has a box for people to write in their ancestry. Below the box, they give examples (Jamaican, Cambodian, Italian, French Canadian, etc). This is what it looked like in the 2000 Census.
Now in 1990, the Bureau decided to add Cajun as an example. As a result, nearly 400,000 people claimed Cajun ethnicity. Vermilion Parish had the highest numbers – we were about 48% Cajun. The US Census was shocked by the numbers and felt that there were too many false positives — people tend to identify with what is listed. As a result, they removed the example in the 2000 survey and we dropped down to about 40,000 – a number closer to what was reported in 1980 when there was no example. Unfortunately, most of those people shifted to the listed example of “French Canadian” or simply “French.”
I think it’s extremely important for us to get out the message that Cajun is a valid ethnicity and that every Cajun report it on the 2010 US Census. I’ve talked to Ms. Judy at the Kaplan Herald and I’ve got her interested too. Do you think there is any money in the state budget for this type of PSA? I’m thinking billboards and TV ads announcing that “Cajun” ancestry/ethnicity should be reported in the 2010 Census. A website could be given for further information for those looking to help the cause or to understand the “qualifications” for being Cajun.
I’m going to use the growing popularity of my websitehttp://www.RealCajunRecipes.com  (I just moved web hosts so if you can’t get to the site, try again tomorrow) to inform the visitors of Cajun descent of the cause. I’ve found that about 80% of the visitors to my Cajun “blog” at http://blog.realcajunrecipes.com are from South Louisiana so I think I’ve got a real opportunity to let people know more.
If you are excited about this and want to continue forward, I would be willing to help with the webpage. I’m a professional database and web developer. It’s not just my trade but my passion as well. If you’d like to read more about this, please feel free to read this NYTimes article by a Pulitzer prize winning author, Rick Bragg. It’s titled “Reported to be vanishing, Cajuns give a sharp ‘Non’”
Thank you for your consideration!
Chrissy LeMaire
I’m excited about this opportunity — we’ve got 5 more years to get the word out and I’m startin now 😀


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