Lawsuit Alleging Census Bureau’s Race Question Fuels Racism Causes Spike in Seattle Group I Am Malan’s Membership

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Membership to I Am Malan, a Seattle-based group, has spiked since the group publicly announced its support of a recent lawsuit against the United States Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget.

I Am Malan

Welcome to your new race.

Membership to I Am Malan, a Seattle-based group that says it works toward racial unity, improved race relations, and toward the end of discrimination and racism, has spiked since the group publicly announced its support of a recent lawsuit against the United States Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Case #: 10-CV-1142), alleges that, on both the 2000 and 2010 Census forms, the United States Census Bureau’s and the Office of Management and Budget’s "representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive, and, therefore, fraudulent," and that its "negligence contributes to a historical and sustained pattern of personally-mediated, institutional, and internalized racism in this country..."

Frida Potente, President of the I Am Malan Council has become a staunch supporter of the lawsuit and has made the filed complaint available on the I Am Malan website. As news of the suit spread, the group watched requests to join the Malan race spike.

Although they have adopted the term "race," Malans say they are defined by ideology rather than by superficialities such as skin color. Malans aim to transcend racial stereotypes and the boundaries of archaic race categories.

Despite its lofty goals, the group has faced some measure of controversy. One reason for this is its use of the tagline, “Welcome to your new race.”

Of the controversy, Potente has said, “Some people ask, ‘How can you create a new race, just like that?’ I say, with a little research, they’ll find the answer lies in the world’s historical practice of doing exactly that. In this case, we’ve created a race that is inclusive rather than divisive.”

Membership to the Malan race is by invitation or award only, although invitations can be requested on the group's website, http://www.iammalan.org.

In explaining her support of the suit, Potente points to evidence that the concept of race was created to substantiate the subordinate position of minorities and adds that, by including a race section on the Census with the knowledge that race is a product of social constructionism, the Bureau’s actions perpetuate a dangerous mythology and are “at minimum, irresponsible and reprehensible, and most certainly intentionally deceptive, and add fuel to the fire that is racism.”

An article covering the Koe v. U.S. Census Bureau lawsuit and I Am Malan’s support of the suit can be found on the I Am Malan site.

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Frida Potente
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