DAILYKENN.com -- 2044 is the date when whites are projected to be a minority in America.
From NYTimes. com ▼ Sabrina Tavernise
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. [excerpt]
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. [source]
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. This has had the effect of understating the size of the white population, they say, because many Americans with one white parent may identify as white or partly white. On their census forms, Americans can choose more than one race and whether they are of Hispanic origin.
Among Asians and Hispanics, more than a quarter marry outside their race, according to the Pew Research Center. For American-born Asians, the share is nearly double that. It means that mixed-race people may be a small group now — around 7 percent of the population, according to Pew — but will steadily grow. Are those children white? Are they minority? Are they both? What about the grandchildren?
“The question really for us as a society is there are all these people who look white, act white, marry white and live white, so what does white even mean anymore?” Dr. Waters said. “We are in a really interesting time, an indeterminate time, when we are not policing the boundary very strongly.”
The Census Bureau has long produced projections of the American population, but they were rarely the topic of talk shows or newspaper headlines.
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