The Likely Persistence of a White Majority

The Likely Persistence of a White Majority

The American Prospect
Winter 2016, Volume 27, Number 1 (2016-01-11)

Richard Alba, Distinguished Professor of Sociology
Graduate Center, City University of New York

Has the notion of demography as destiny ever enjoyed so much credence? The disappearance of a white majority in the United States by the middle of this century is now widely accepted as if it were an established fact. Projections by the Census Bureau have encouraged those expectations, and people on both the right and left have seized on them in support of their views. On the right, the anxieties about the end of white majority status have fueled a conservative backlash against the growing diversity of the country. On the left, many progressives anticipate an inexorable change in the ethno-racial power hierarchy. Numerous sites on the web offer advice and counsel on how whites can handle their imminent minority status.

But what if these different reactions are based on a false premise—actually two false premises? The first stems from the Census Bureau’s way of classifying people by ethnicity and race, which produces the smallest possible estimate of the size of the non-Hispanic white population. Whenever there is ambiguity about ethno-racial identity, the statistics publicized by the bureau count an individual as minority. This statistical choice is particularly important for population projections because of the growing number of children from mixed families, most of whom have one white parent and one from a minority group. In the Census Bureau’s projections, children with one Hispanic, Asian, or black parent are counted as minority (that is, as Hispanic or nonwhite). The United States has historically followed a “one-drop” rule in classifying people with any black ancestry as black. The census projections, in effect, extend the one-drop rule to the descendants of other mixed families. A great deal of evidence shows, however, that many children growing up today in mixed families are integrating into a still largely white mainstream society and likely to think of themselves as part of that mainstream, rather than as minorities excluded from it…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,