The Browning and Yellowing of Whiteness

The Browning and Yellowing of Whiteness

The Black Commentator

Tamara K. Nopper, Adjunct Professor of Asian American Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Latino/as and Asians Americans do not necessarily reject dominant culture and ideology when it comes to racial politics.

A Review of Who is White?: Latinos, Asians, and the New Black/Nonblack Divide by George Yancey (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003).

In 1903 the ever-forward looking W. E. B. DuBois declared, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”  A century later, the relevance of DuBois’ observation is being contested by those preoccupied with the increasing ethnic and cultural diversification of the US.  Many argue that DuBois’ centralization of the boundary between the entangled black and white worlds is outdated, going so far as to propose that we now have “colorlines.”  Such gestures are more than semantic and instead imply that blackness as the definitive social boundary for US race relations is either less pronounced or completely erased by the significant presence of nonblack racial minorities such as Latino/as and Asian Americans.

This is precisely why George Yancey’s book Who is White?: Latinos, Asians, and the New Black/Nonblack Divide is such a necessary read.  Yancey, a sociologist at the University of North Texas, provides compelling evidence that supports the (unstated) hypothesis that the color line of the twentieth century will remain firmly entrenched in the twenty-first. Using as his point of departure the popular projection that whites will soon be a minority group, Yancey opens his book by arguing that whites will remain the majority despite the growing populations of Latino/as and Asian Americans.  How can the increase of Latino/as and Asian Americans enforce, rather than disrupt, the color line?  Simple.  By 2050, according to Yancey, most Latino/as and Asian Americans will be white…

…Overall, while some will surely dismiss Who is White? as “academic”—a practice many activists and even academics engage in when confronted with political conclusions that make them uncomfortable—Yancey’s research is extremely relevant for contemporary racial politics.  Most importantly, Yancey’s findings hint at possible inadequacies of current approaches to “multiracial” America, most of which emphasize a white/non-white paradigm that minimizes or outright dismisses the reality of antiblack racism as the structuring and generative ideology of US race relations and social inequality…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,