Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 21, 2008 / 20 Menachem-Av 5768

The myth of the white minority

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When the Census Bureau announced last week that white Americans would dwindle to less than half of the US population within a generation, the media quickly spread the word.


"A new census report says that whites in the US will be a minority by the year 2042," announced NPR's Farai Chideya, while over at CNN Tony Harris proclaimed that "the complexion of America is changing and a lot faster than you think: In just 34 years, the Census Bureau says whites will no longer be a majority in this country." The Associated Press moved a story headlined "White Americans no longer a majority by 2042." Once again, the nation's unhealthy obsession with sorting people into categories based on color and ancestry was in the news.


But there was another problem with all this coverage of how white America is becoming a minority: The Census Bureau never said it.


You can see the numbers for yourself on the Census Bureau website. In a spreadsheet titled "Projections of the Population by Race and Hispanic Origin for the United States: 2008 to 2050," the bureau forecasts a rise in the number of whites from about 243 million today to 325 million at midcentury - an increase of 82 million. A related spreadsheet gives the percentages: Whites today account for nearly 80 percent of the US population. In 2050, they'll constitute 74 percent - still a very hefty majority.


So what explains the persistent drumbeat about the impending white minority? A statistical distortion: the exclusion of Hispanic whites. If only non-Hispanic whites are counted, the white population today amounts to 66 percent of the total, and will hit around 46 percent by 2050.


But excluding whites of Hispanic origin from the overall white population makes no more sense than excluding whites of Slavic or Scandinavian origin. "Hispanic" is not a race. It is an ethnic category. As the Census Bureau repeatedly points out, Hispanics can be of any race. In the 2000 census, 48 percent of Hispanics identified themselves as white; Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson has characterized them as "white in every social sense of this term." Bottom line: Of the 46.6 million Hispanics in the United States today, at least 22 million are white.


On both right and left, however, there are pressures to treat Hispanics as a distinct racial category. Many on the left covet the political attention and affirmative-action largesse that comes with minority-group status. In some quarters of the right, meanwhile, immigration alarmists warn that Hispanics are overwhelming the nation's "white" culture, dissolving the bonds of language and patriotism on which American civilization depends.


One of the lessons of US history is that racial categories are anything but meaningful scientific classifications. For generations, "whites" have been hearing that they are about to be engulfed by unassimilable foreign races, and for centuries those "races" have eventually become - white! Benjamin Franklin worried mightily about the threat posed to white American culture by the influx of German immigrants. "Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens," he demanded in 1751, "who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them?" Those "swarthy" Germans, Franklin was quite sure, "will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can adopt our Complexion."


A century and a half later, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge witheringly described the Russians, Poles, and Greeks entering the country as "races with which the English-speaking people have never hitherto assimilated, and who are most alien to the great body of the people of the United States." In the early 20th century, federal immigration officials classified the Irish, Italians, and Jews as separate races. Yet today all these groups are viewed collectively, and benignly, as "white."


And so, in time, will Hispanics, who give every indication of being just as assimilable as earlier groups. Most third-generation Hispanic Americans, for example, marry non-Hispanics. The overwhelming majority speak English. With a little luck, common sense, and goodwill, it will seem as odd in 2050 to focus on "non-Hispanic whites" as it would today to insist that only "non-German whites" are really white.


Better still, perhaps by then we will have really progressed, and abandoned the pernicious notion of racial categories altogether.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2006, Boston Globe

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles