Air Force identifies new race categories

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Brandon Lingle
  • Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
Airmen are now able to identify more than one race in their official personnel files because of a change in how the Air Force records racial information.

Some race designations will automatically change to fit the new categories as part of the data conversion. The new categories are part of a government-wide effort to standardize race data.

"Everyone should take a minute to ensure their race preference is correct," said Col. Gary Smith, chief of the field activities division at the Air Force Personnel Center here.

In the past, airmen could select only one race preference, said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Knudson, superintendent of the military equal opportunity branch at AFPC. Now, they will be able to select any number of five newly designated race groups.

The revamped choices are American Indian or Alaska native, Asian, black or African-American, native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander, and white.

The easiest way for people to view and update their racial designation is on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight by clicking the "vMPF" button at Race choices and descriptions of the new categories are located on the "personal information" page under the "records review" link, Knudson said.

"Most people's current race selections will smoothly transfer into the new categories," said Knudson.

But some categories will automatically be re-designated. "Asian/Pacific Islander" will be converted to the "Asian" category, plus the former "other" and "unknown" options will be switched to the new "declined to respond" category.

The federal guidelines also ask people about their ethnic origin, he said. Now all airmen will be asked whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino descent.

For more information, call the Air Force Contact Center toll-free at (866) 229-7074 or DSN 665-5000 or by visiting your local personnel flight. (Courtesy of AFPC News Service)