proliferation of racial check-boxes and racial statistics limits the ability ultimately to move away from the idea of race as a meaningful concept. Clearly, it is neither wise nor practical to simply dismantle the U.S. civil rights compliance structure at this point. What is needed instead is continued use of compliance monitoring, along with a commitment to finding alternative methods for tracking discrimination. The federal race categories have worked to cement the idea of race in U.S. society as much as they have worked to uncover patterns of racial discrimination. Any potential revisions to these categories must be considered with the utmost gravity and concern, both for the primary purpose of the categories in providing a statistical language for civil rights compliance monitoring and for the effects the categories have in solidifying the idea of race as a reality.
Early in this chapter, I asserted that two related concepts would guide my discussion in this chapter and in the book generally, and we would be well served to revisit them prior to moving on to explicit considerations of multiracial identity and a federal multiracial category. First, federal racial classification exists for the primary purpose of monitoring continuing discrimination against specific groups to whom the United States has particular, historical responsibilities. This is serious business in that it represents the best tool Americans have for reducing and eliminating covert and institutional discrimination. Second, in absolutely no sense is federal racial classification intended to provide a means for persons to validate their self-identity choices. Such considerations are simply outside the very particular scope of the federal race categories. With these facts in mind, we may now move to an examination of multiracial identity.