Mighty White of You

Breathless hysteria over the trend toward a less white America misses an important fact: most Hispanics are white.

Matt Yglesias correctly points out that breathless hysteria over the trend toward a less white America misses an important fact:

When the New York Times recently did a piece on me, Ezra Klein, Brian Beutler, and Dave Weigel exactly zero people complained about the massive over-representation of people of Latin American ancestry that reflected. People saw it as a profile of four white dudes. Which is what it was. But my dad’s family is from Cuba, Ezra’s dad’s family is from Brazil, and Brian’s mom’s family is from Chile. That’s kind of a funny coincidence, but the combination of continued immigration and intermarriage means that over time a larger and larger share of American people will be partially descended from Latin American countries. That will probably change various aspects of American life in various ways. But we’re not going to become a predominantly Spanish-speaking country, race isn’t going to stop being a social construct, and it won’t cease being the case that the primary “race issue” is the gap between black people (almost all of whom are in part descended from white people) and a fairly miscellaneous group of socially dominant whites.

The melting pot has meant that, not only do peoples of other cultures Americanize culturally over a couple of generations but they come to be fully regarded as Americans.  Greeks, Italians, Poles, and all manner of others were once disdained as a lesser “other.” That’s a concept that’s now utterly baffling.

The process is, of course, much more difficult for those who are outwardly different. Blacks, and to a much lesser extent, East and South Asians, American Indians, and mestizos haven’t had the luxury as lighter skinned people at completely blending in.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    Whenever I have to fill out a form for race, I check off “other” and write either “Human,” “Mutt,” or “American” — whichever strikes me at the time.

    I’m with Dr. King. I think we’re well past the point where we judge people by the color of their skin, and focus instead on the content of their character.

    Especially considering how many Americans are of what once were wildly improbable blends of races, ethnicities, national origins, and whatnot. Time to just get over it.

    J.

  2. TG Chicago says:

    So you’re not going to point out how people of Latin American ancestry are uniquely able to launch themselves to the head of the line, leapfrogging those who’ve spent years playing the game by the old rules, spawning resentment from their non-Latin American peers?

    Seems like something you might say.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @TG Chicago: Oddly, that resentment seems reserved for Asians. Presumably, it’s for the same reason: Blacks, like whites, view the Ezra Kleins of the world as just regular white guys.

  4. Trumwill says:

    I’m curious whether Yglesias, Beutler, and Klein identify as Hispanic for the census bureau. And, for that matter, how typical they are. They probably are not unusual among the Hispanic population in general. I know I grew up with a lot of Hispanics that were the children and grandchildren of Cubans, and when I was living in the southwest I worked with a whole lot of Hispanics that I only knew were Hispanic because of their name. On the other hand, the most recent influx is not exactly likely to meet this demographic profile, and there is the concern that due to a number of factors, things won’t work out as well with this group as with previous groups of immigrants.

  5. Kylopod says:

    >I’m curious whether Yglesias, Beutler, and Klein identify as Hispanic for the census bureau.

    Having worked for the census last summer, I should note that they do not classify “Hispanic” as a racial category. Respondents are asked whether they are “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” as a separate question from what race they are, and they are told not to give “Hispanic” or “Latino” as their race.

  6. tom p says:

    The process is, of course, much more difficult for those who are outwardly different. Blacks, and to a much lesser extent, East and South Asians, American Indians, and mestizos haven’t had the luxury as lighter skinned people at completely blending in.

    And now we have our “DUUUUHHHHH!!!!!” moment of the day….

    (JJ admits racism exists in America!!! Headlines!!! Shout it from the MOUNTAIN TOPS!!!)

    I am sorry James, but after you have spent so many posts downplaying racism in America, for you to come out and so blatantly admit to it’s existence….

    I could not let it pass.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @tom p

    I am sorry James, but after you have spent so many posts downplaying racism in America, for you to come out and so blatantly admit to it’s existence….

    When have I claimed racism, an inherent human characteristic, doesn’t exist in America? I’ve certainly argued that we’ve come remarkably far in a short order–and that racism within my cognizance (say, starting in the early 1970s) is much less than it was a decade or so earlier. But that it doesn’t exist?

    We’ve elected a black man (granted, a biracial one but one who thinks of himself and is largely thought of as black) president. We’ve had black chairmen of the Joint Chief and Secretaries of State. A black RNC chairman. So, yeah, we’ve come a hell of a long way.

  8. Brett says:

    Screw the Brett #2 title, I’m the REAL Brett –

    Blacks, and to a much lesser extent, East and South Asians, American Indians, and mestizos haven’t had the luxury as lighter skinned people at completely blending in.

    I’m not so sure. The East Asian inter-marriage rate in the US is very high, with over one-third of men and nearly half of women of east asian descent marrying a white partner (Wikipedia has it as 41% for the latter group as of 2006, meaning that it’s probably higher by now). My guess is that Americans of east asian descent will basically be “honorary whites” in a few decades.*

    * That was the experience in my neighborhood growing up, which was a conservative, almost entirely white suburban neighborhood. Mixed white-asian couples would move in on occasion, and nobody blinked an eyelash.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    On a vaguely-related note, someone recently noted that we haven’t had a white male Secretary of State since 1994. Black man, two white women, and one black woman, but no white men since Warren Christopher.

    Odd little factoid, that…

    J.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Brett : Blacks are clearly in a whole different category. Asians of any stripe stand out as non-white but there’s little stigma or sense of others in most circles in the US. And, unlike blacks, one generation of intermarriage with whites pretty much ends any sense of race.

  11. Southern Hoosier says:

    Most of the Hispanic immigrants come from Mexico and are Mestizo. Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent. In Mexico the ruling class and middle class are the more European or white. They have little reason to come to the United States to better themselves. Mexico is a very class conscious nation. The more Indian blood the lower the social status. Many of the Mexicans coming here are not Spanish, but pure Indian and speak little or no Spanish.

    As part of this year’s outreach effort, the Census Bureau launched an enormous bilingual campaign to reach the Mexican community, one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in New York City. But the Bureau, and local organizations it relied on, overlooked Mexican immigrants who don’t speak English or Spanish – indigenous groups like the Maya, Zapotec, and Mixotec.

    http://news.feetintwoworlds.org/2010/04/15/immigration-indigenous-mexicans-and-the-2010-census/