The future of whiteness

The future of whiteness


Michael Lind

Both Republican and Democratic racial politics are doomed. How culture shifts will reshape American ideas on race

The Census Bureau has announced that a majority of new-born infants in the U.S. now belong to categories other than what the U.S. federal government calls “non-Hispanic white.”
While so-called “non-Hispanic whites” still account for 49.6 percent of American newborns, immigration has expanded the Hispanic and Asian categories, while the African-American or black share of the U.S. population has remained roughly constant. Whether they celebrate or dread it, progressive champions of the “rainbow coalition” and white conservative nativists at least agree on a fact:  in the future, whites in the U.S. will be a minority.
But what if both the multicultural left and the nativist right are wrong? Definitions of racial identity in the U.S. have changed over time. In the twentieth century, Americans with different degrees of African ancestry who in earlier generations would have been described as negroes, quadroons and octoroons were all lumped together in a single category as blacks. And in the nineteenth century, eminent American ethnologists debated the question of whether Irish-Americans belonged to the same race as Anglo-Americans.
In the 1970s, the federal government came up with the bizarre “non-Hispanic white” label, lumping together Arab-Americans, Norwegian-Americans and Irish-Americans into a single government-created pseudo-race. To compound the absurdity, at the same time the federal government invented a category of “Hispanics” who, as government forms invariably note, “may be of any race.” The artificial “Hispanic” category is even more preposterous than the “non-Hispanic white” category, including blond, blue-eyed South Americans of German descent as well as Mexican-American mestizos and Puerto Ricans of  predominantly African descent.
These government racial labels are increasingly out of touch with America’s fluid demographic reality.  But for the sake of argument, let us take America’s official racial classifications, all too reminiscent of Soviet nationality labels, at face value.  According to polls, a slight majority of Hispanics (or Latinos) identify themselves as “white.” Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of government-labeled Hispanics who identified as “other race” dropped in percentage from 42 to 37 while those who identified as white rose from 48 to 53 percent…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

Tags: ,