From the NYT Op-Ed page:
The Census and Right-Wing Hysteria
By HERBERT J. GANS MAY 11, 2017
Several years ago, the Census Bureau began to predict that the United States would become a majority-minority nation by the 2040s — that African- and Asian-Americans, as well as Latinos, would outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Last year the census underlined its prediction by announcing that non-Hispanic white babies under the age of 1 were already in the minority.
These numbers have become a handy data point for whites fearful that they are being threatened and “overwhelmed” by a growing tide of darker-skinned people. In this way, the census may have unintentionally increased white racism, thereby justifying the longstanding Republican strategy of turning itself into a whites-first party. White fears probably even helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
Nonetheless, the “minority-majority” forecast, as it is commonly interpreted, is likely to be proven wrong. Not only could whites remain a majority well past midcentury, but they will retain political, economic and cultural control of the country long after that.
Simply put, the demographers have not taken into account how the perception of race is likely to change in the coming years. For example, whites are already seeing the descendants of some Asian and Latino immigrants as being similar to them.
Actually, during the I Love Lucy era, non-Hispanic whites tended to see Hispanics as more white than they do now. Hispanic elites wanted to be seen as white, and whites accommodated them: for example, the 1950 and 1960 Census didn’t break out Hispanics at all, merely lumping virtually all of them in with whites. It was only with the Civil Rights movement, that the government went back to counting them separately in 1970.
Consequently, whites treat them as white. This “whitening” process will only increase in the future.
Happy 90th birthday to Dr. Gans, but I can’t help but think that he’s missed noticing the modern “Flight from White.” America isn’t like it was when he arrived as refugee from Nazis in 1940 and it was prudent to downplay your diversityness.
Since 1969, the government and the culture hand out affirmative action money and prizes to people who claim to be Diverse, so self-interested persons of mixed descent tend to push hard on claims to the most rewarded identities.
For example, there was the recent case of a Hawaiian-born individual who until his mid-20s was largely thought of by his friends as “just another mixed kid” or “international” or “multicultural.” But he eventually decided to emphasize his black ancestry, writing a 150,000 word memoir about his ties to the African father he barely knew called “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.”
And things worked out really well for him. White people loved this guy who was raised by whites and Asians but who claimed to be black on the 2010 Census. They even made him President and then paid him $400,000 per speech.
Not surprisingly, groups that were officially classified as white have been demanding to have the government count them as nonwhite. South Asians got themselves moved from Caucasian to Oriental/Asian in 1982 to make them eligible for minority business development privileges from the government. Arabs have been trying to get themselves declared nonwhite for the 2020 Census. No blue-blooded Conquistador-American group has ever offered to give up their legal minority status just because they take pride in their whiteness.
Politically, things are a little more complicated, however. The basic Democratic strategy is to use immigration to inflate the Coalition of the Fringes and keep them united by focusing hate toward Evil CisHet White Males. The Republicans will be stuck being the White Party in an age when the media demonizes whites (e.g., with constant reporting of hate hoaxes as genuine hate crimes).
But, there is some possibility that blacks will still manage to drive off some Asians and Hispanics from the Democratic Party via bad behavior, megalomania, and feelings of entitlement. The Democrats paid the price in 2016 as blacks couldn’t be bothered to come out in large numbers to vote for a nonblack.
The Democrats may wind up being seen as the Black Party. To a lot of white people, it probably sounds awesome to be loyal to the Black Party, but I suspect a smaller percentage of Hispanics and Asians share those feelings.