May 8, 2001
5:07 AM   Subscribe

Claims based on early census data that "non-hispanic whites" are becoming a minority in many regions of the United States are very devisive and inaccurate, this nytimes op-ed by Orlando Patterson claims. "The misleading reports of white proportional decline are likely not only to sustain the racist fears of white supremacist groups but also to affect the views of ordinary white, nonextremist Americans."
posted by palegirl (13 comments total)
that whites are fast becomming a "minority" in this country is a pervasive meme -- i major in studying race in this country (africana studies) and i have had at least two professors this semester who have brought up this issue in class.

the aritcle linked above emphasizes that "non-hispanic" whites are often socially "white."

"nearly half of the Hispanic population is white in every social sense of this term; 48 percent of so- called Hispanics classified themselves as solely white, giving only one race to the census taker. Although all reports routinely note that "Hispanics can be of any race," they almost always go on to neglect this critical fact, treating Hispanics as if they were, in fact, a sociological race comparable to "whites" and "blacks.""

what i don't understand is if a person identified himself as "white" to the census taker how did he become hispanic in the data?
posted by palegirl at 5:14 AM on May 8, 2001

Because the Census asks a race question (which comes down to: Are you white, black, asian, nat. am., or something else?) separately from the Hispanic/Latino question (which I think actually lists a broad range of "source countries" in addition to a catch-all "hispanic or latino" option). What's really interesting is that, while you get a goodly number of Hispanics who can an "adequate" answer to the race question, you also get a big chunk who answer "something else: hispanic". I imagine that these answers get filtered out for most of the race data for Hispanics.
posted by claxton6 at 6:13 AM on May 8, 2001

I believe it also makes a difference whether you get the short form (most people) or the long form (statistical sampling). The long form has questions designed to determine "how" people answer the race bingo box.
posted by dhartung at 7:21 AM on May 8, 2001

dhartung: I don't think that's case. Well, there's one question in the long form that asks what your place of birth was and an open-ended ancestry question, but I doubt it's really useful for figuring out the "how" of the short form race/hispanic question.
posted by claxton6 at 7:25 AM on May 8, 2001

This is old news, whites in califirnia became a minority, census wise, 4-6 years ago. How bout affirmitive action now....huh. come on, its the new york times
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 AM on May 8, 2001

I think the term majority and minority are loaded terms and therefore we should stop people from having to identify their race/ethnicity. For any reason except maybe college admission (to help disadvantaged minorities). Even that should be based on economic and not necessarily on race.
posted by Rastafari at 8:10 AM on May 8, 2001

The professor of my "Race and the Law" class argues that whites are pushing for a color-blind society now because they fear they're becoming a minority... like, as we touched on a week ago, in california...

[Rastafari, man, i don't know a thing about you & don't mean to imply anything about your views or prejudices]
posted by palegirl at 8:33 AM on May 8, 2001

palegirl: But does that make it bad?

rasta: do you mean race shouldn't be asked in general, or just on the census? Out of curiosity, who do you think uses that sort of data? As palegirl sort of suggests, it's (generally speaking) not those who, for example, oppose affirmative action and the like.
posted by claxton6 at 8:36 AM on May 8, 2001

I think a side effect of all this is that blacks are becoming re-marginalized again. I think politicians will begin to look at the hispanic bloc as more desirable and kick the black vote to the bottom of their priority list (again). Right now in LA, we have a mayoral race between a hispanic and white candidate. The white candidate (Jim Hahn) has almost all of the black vote, while Villarigosa has the hispanic vote and seems like he could care less about the black vote. Hahn has made some attempt to get the hispanic vote, but right now they're fighting for the remaining white votes....
posted by owillis at 9:32 AM on May 8, 2001

palegirl & rastafari
The REAL impressive stats, for me, are these: executive compensation increased by 71 percent between 1992 and 1997. By contrast, wages for white-collar workers dropped by 0.3 percent during those years.
Race and sex are of course very important factors (so many women are still underpaid, very few minorities actually get big promotions on the workplace): but economics is still key
posted by matteo at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2001

matteo: Can you source those? I'm interested in seeing data for since 1997.
posted by claxton6 at 9:51 AM on May 8, 2001

Jill Andresky Fraser, "White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America". It's a pretty good book
posted by matteo at 9:54 AM on May 8, 2001

claxton6: I mean race shouldn't be asked in general; but I guess the federal govt. needs the info. to allocate resources. But that would be for neighborhoods, so I don't know why they would need to know races/ethnicity. Besides the fed. & state govt., I don't know who else would use it.

BTW, I'm not opposed to affirmative action in theory, but I'm opposed to the practice of the quota system (if it ACTUALLY exist, that is.)

I guess I'm more sensitive on this because India (my native) practices the quota system to the nth degree (along caste line), and it really disadvantages the upper castes (who are qualified most of the times.) So I guess there's some parallel here.
posted by Rastafari at 12:08 PM on May 8, 2001

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