Advertisement

Our Whiter-Than-Expected Future

It’s very common to hear that non-Hispanic whites will no longer be a majority by the year 2050, but I think Razib Khan raises a valuable objection to this premise. He observes that 86.4% of Argentina’s population self-identify as European descended, but this seems to be somewhat at odds with the facts, which indicate that the overall population’s Y-chromosomes are 94.1 percent European but the mitochondria are 53.7 percent Native American.

The issue, in other words, is that there’s a tendency of mixed-ancestry Argentines to view themselves as white. In the United States, the traditional racial paradigm is black-and-white and mixed race people are normally identified as black or at least in some sense “of color.” But as Razib notes, that’s not necessarily the case for other people. The half-Indonesian Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays white characters. Ta-Nehisi Coates sees the half-Korean Karen O doing “the white girl thing.” I think people generally do not understand whatever prominence the quarter-Cuban Matt Yglesias or half-Brazilian Ezra Klein has achieved as undermining the white maleness of US political punditry.

And the projected de-whitening of America consists largely of an increase in the number of people of Asian or Hispanic ancestry. There aren’t, however, any real guarantees about how those people’s identities will be understood, especially considering the high rate of intermarriage among non-black minority groups. Once upon a time Irish and Italians weren’t seen as white.

Advertisement