Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino origin (the only categories for ethnicity). 
The racial categories represent a social-political construct for the race or races that respondents consider themselves to be and, generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country. OMB defines the concept of race as outlined for the U.S. Census as not scientific or anthropological and takes into account social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry, using appropriate scientific methodologies that are not primarily biological or genetic in reference. The race categories include both racial and national-origin groups.
Race and ethnicity are considered separate and distinct identities, with Hispanic or Latino origin asked as a separate question. Thus, in addition to their race or races, all respondents are categorized by membership in one of two ethnic categories, which are Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. However, the practice of separating race and ethnicity as different categories has been criticized both by the American Anthropological Association and members of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 
In 1997, OMB issued a Federal Register notice regarding revisions to the standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB developed race and ethnic standards in order to provide consistent data on race and ethnicity throughout the Federal Government. The development of the data standards stem in large measure from new responsibilities to enforce civil rights laws. Among the changes, OMB issued the instruction to mark one or more races after noting evidence of increasing numbers of interracial children and wanting to capture the