Friday, August 13, 2010

The Future of Whiteness in the United States, Revised

Since at least the 1990 Census we have been treated to a regular parade of predictions that white North Americans will lose their traditional majority status sometime in the early 21st Century. But now that prediction has been revised—pushed back by nearly a decade to mid-century—because the recent economic calamities, together with anti-immigration policies and practices, have slowed down the flow of persons coming into the United States, including those who are brown. Currently, the total U.S. population is just over 300 million people, two-thirds classified as “non-Hispanic whites.” The new Census projections predict that total population will rise to nearly 400 million by 2050, with whites making up exactly half of that total. Blacks will remain at 12% while Hispanics increase from 15% to 28% and Asians from 4.5% to 6%. However, actual shifts in national demographics will be determined by the interplay of many factors, from the economic to the cultural to the natural and the legal...This data underscores what really is at stake in the current hullabaloo over immigration law and policy: for how much longer will this richly diverse country remain under the rule of a single racial/ethnic group?

As we know from the early experience with immigration law in this country, which from the very beginning restricted citizenship to “white” immigrants, this group has used its control over public policy since then to reinforce its domination of the country, its culture, and its economy. For how much longer will this history continue? The answer to this query will be determined by the complex of factors in play right now—including the reshaping of immigration law and policy, which is all over the nation’s headlines once again: under a “zero immigration” scenario, in which the country effectively refuses to take in any new immigrants, whites would be predicted to remain solidly in the majority by 2050, with nearly 60% of the population, while the Hispanic figures would increase to only 21% by that time...As in so many cases, the numbers tell the story.


By Frank Valdes

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