From the New York Times:
“People went crazy,” said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California, of the 2008 projection that non-Hispanic whites would drop below half the population by 2042.
By Sabrina Tavernise, Nov. 22, 2018
WASHINGTON — The graphic was splashy by the Census Bureau’s standards and it showed an unmistakable moment in America’s future: the year 2044, when white Americans were projected to fall below half the population and lose their majority status.
The presentation of the data disturbed Kenneth Prewitt, a former Census Bureau director, who saw it while looking through a government report. The graphic made demographic change look like a zero-sum game that white Americans were losing, he thought, and could provoke a political backlash.
So after the report’s release three years ago, he organized a meeting with Katherine Wallman, at the time the chief statistician for the United States.
“I said ‘I’m really worried about this,’” said Dr. Prewitt, now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. He added, “Statistics are powerful. They are a description of who we are as a country. If you say majority-minority, that becomes a huge fact in the national discourse.”
In a nation preoccupied by race, the moment when white Americans will make up less than half the country’s population has become an object of fascination.
For white nationalists, it signifies a kind of doomsday clock counting down to the end of racial and cultural dominance. For progressives who seek an end to Republican power, the year points to inevitable political triumph, when they imagine voters of color will rise up and hand victories to the Democratic Party.
But many academics have grown increasingly uneasy with the public fixation. They point to recent research demonstrating the data’s power to shape perceptions. Some are questioning the assumptions the Census Bureau is making about race, and whether projecting the American population even makes sense at a time of rapid demographic change when the categories themselves seem to be shifting.
Jennifer Richeson, a social psychologist at Yale University, spotted the risk immediately. As an analyst of group behavior, she knew that group size was a marker of dominance and that a group getting smaller could feel threatened. At first she thought the topic of a declining white majority was too obvious to study.
But she did, together with a colleague, Maureen Craig, a social psychologist at New York University, and they have been talking about the results ever since. Their findings, first published in 2014, showed that white Americans who were randomly assigned to read about the racial shift were more likely to report negative feelings toward racial minorities than those who were not. They were also more likely to support restrictive immigration policies and to say that whites would likely lose status and face discrimination in the future.
Mary Waters, a sociologist at Harvard University, remembered being stunned when she saw the research.
“It was like, ‘Oh wow, these nerdy projections are scaring the hell out of people,” she said.
Beyond concerns about the data’s repercussions, some researchers are also questioning whether the Census Bureau’s projections provide a true picture. At issue, they say, is whom the government counts as white.
In the Census Bureau’s projections, people of mixed race or ethnicity have been counted mostly as minority, demographers say. …
You can self-identify as whatever you want. For example, in the 2010 Census, Barack Obama chose not to identity as part white or mixed race, but self-identified as only black. Why did he pass up all that White Privilege? I dunno, maybe going in almost all out on the black half of his identity had proven a winning career strategy for him?
Then, in August 2008 at the height of Barack Obama’s campaign for president, the bureau projected that non-Hispanic whites would drop below half the population by 2042, far earlier than expected. (The projections, which change with birth, death and migration rates, have also placed the shift in 2050 and in 2044.)
“That’s what really lit the fuse,” said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California, referring to the 2008 projection. “People went crazy.”
That’s silly. A much more seminal moment was President Clinton’s June 13, 1998 commencement speech at Portland State.
It was not just white nationalists worried about losing racial dominance. Dr. Myers watched as progressives, envisioning political power, became enamored with the idea of a coming white minority. He said it was hard to interest them in his work on ways to make the change seem less threatening to fearful white Americans — for instance by emphasizing the good that could come from immigration.
“It was conquest, our day has come,” he said of their reaction. “They wanted to overpower them with numbers. It was demographic destiny.”
It’s almost as if the people who occupy the commanding heights of the culture, such as the universities, have agency and aren’t just being pushed around by extreme rightists in basements
Dr. Myers and a colleague later found that presenting the data differently could produce a much less anxious reaction. In work published this spring, they found that the negative effects that came from reading about a white decline were largely erased when the same people read about how the white category was in fact getting bigger by absorbing multiracial young people through intermarriage.
Here’s a concept that the New York Times has never admitted exists, but has a sizable influence on their content: Flight From White. Here in the U.S. there are all lsorts of prizes given out via the vast affirmative action system, both formal and informal, for not being white since about 1969.
(But who can remember anything as recent as 1969? Ta-Nehisi Coates can’t remember anything after Emmett Till and he’s an official Genius.)
For example, earlier this month, NYT staffer Thessaly La Force (right) a six foot tall European-looking woman of partial Korean descent penned a massive article about how oppressed she is by, more or less, the fact that she couldn’t star as Lorelei Lee in a remake of Gentlemen Prefer Blonds: “Why Do Asian-Americans Remain Largely Unseen in Film and Television?”
Race is difficult to count because, unlike income or employment, it is a social category that shifts with changes in culture, immigration, and ideas about genetics. So who counts as white has changed over time. In the 1910s and 1920s, the last time immigrants were such a large share of the American population, there were furious arguments over how to categorize newcomers from Europe.
But eventually, the immigrants from eastern and southern Europe came to be considered white.
Oh, boy. Fake History. Look, immigrants from eastern and southern Europe were always legally white. It’s an insult to black Americans to go around saying that Italians or Poles or Ashkenazis weren’t white.
That is because race is about power, not biology, said Charles King, a political science professor at Georgetown University.
“The closer you get to social power, the closer you get to whiteness,” said Dr. King, author of a coming book on Franz Boas, the early 20th-century anthropologist who argued against theories of racial difference.
As we can see from the career of Barack Obama. Really, look him up on Wikipedia. He was in all the papers at the time.
Seriously, it’s not Franz Boas’s millennium anymore.