America in 2050 may still be majority white

By Razib Khan | June 19, 2010 1:50 pm

I have expressed some skepticism at the idea that in the year 2050 the United States of America will perceive itself as a majority-minority nation; that is, non-Hispanic whites will be be a minority. This projection is repeated and asserted so often that it’s a plausible background assumption when you’re making a model of the American future. But there are other factors which make this a shakier inference from current trends. A new article in The New York Times which has nothing to do with racial identity as such is a good tell as to the other factor at work, Plea to Obama Led to an Immigrant’s Arrest:

he letter appealing to President Obama was written in frustration in January, by a woman who saw her family reflected in his. She was a white United States citizen married to an African man, and the couple — college-educated professionals in Manhattan — were stymied in their long legal battle to keep him in the country.

One of the principals is introduced as white, but later on, you learn:

“I’ve been feeling very confused and ashamed as an American citizen,” she said, evoking her family’s eclectic immigrant origins.

Her father, an emeritus professor of East Asian languages and cultures at the University of California, Berkeley, is the son of Scottish immigrants; her mother’s family were refugees from North Korea; her stepmother is Chinese; and her sister’s husband is Egyptian.

Vanessa HugdensIf her mother is one of the tiny minority of white European-descended Koreans, she happens to be one of those who also has a Korean first name (it isn’t too hard to find these data on the internet). In other words, The New York Times felt that it was permissible for the purposes of this article to frame one of the individuals profiled as white despite the fact that more precisely she’s Eurasian as is clear within the text of the article itself (she may also have identified herself as white to the reporter). I am not sure that she would have been defined as white if her husband was not an African immigrant, as for narrative purposes that is probably a better contrast effect. But imagine if her mother’s family were black immigrants from Jamaica: The New York Times would not define her as white I would hazard in that case.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture
MORE ABOUT: Ethnicity, Race
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  • jemand

    This has always been what I thought would happen– as the previous category “white” got smaller more people would be added to it, rather than losing a majority. I’d say this already has happened pretty completely with Jewish identity, and Irish, if they ever weren’t considered “properly white” which I’ve found conflicting reports on.

    I think a lot of descendants of people the US culture currently labels “Hispanic” will self-identify and be identified socially as white in the coming decades. I know traveling in south america I was met with shock at stories from the US which indicated Hispanics weren’t considered white.

    The fact that they considered this somewhat of an insult would lead me to believe we’ll have problems with racism for a *long* time coming, but I don’t think we’ll consider ourselves a majority-minority country in 2050.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I think a lot of descendants of people the US culture currently labels “Hispanic” will self-identify and be identified socially as white in the coming decades. I know traveling in south america I was met with shock at stories from the US which indicated Hispanics weren’t considered white.

    50% of american latinos/hispanics put “white” as their ethnicity on the census. latin america has a racial caste system with whites on the top, albeit a permeable one.

  • bioIgnoramus

    If you really want more people to report themselves as white, stop paying out extorted advantages to people who report themselves as non-white. Easy peasy.

  • http://thecoldequations.blogspot.com coldequation

    Predicting medium-term demographics is easier than making most other predictions, because we already know who about half of the Americans of 2050 will be – they’re already here. We know who the parents, or at least grandparents, of most of the rest are – they’re the children and young people of today. Immigrants will throw these estimates off, but not in the direction of more whiteness, unless something really weird happens and we end up with millions of European refugees. As of this year most newborns in America will probably not be white, and their kids won’t be either when they are the majority of Americans in their childbearing years. You don’t need to extrapolate volatile trends to show that America will be non-white in a matter of decades. It’s just a matter of waiting for the current generation to die.

    Or you could redefine “white.” The woman in the article is obviously part Asian, even if her complexion favors the white side of her family. I think they identified her as white because she fits the narrative – evil immigration policies breaking up an American family – better than a rootless cosmopolitan would. There have always been mixed-race people who could pass for white, and there will be more in the future, but I doubt there will be enough to seriously throw off the projections in only 40 years. And, even if there are, will they even want to identify themselves as white? Does Caroline even identify herself as white when she isn’t pushing a story where it’s most effective if she’s a normative American? I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Anyway, I’ll have to go with the projections over some anecdote about a mixed-race woman being (mis?)identified as white.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Or you could redefine “white.”

    that was kind of the point of the post, right? anyway, i have obviously posted in non-anecdote fashion before (the projections that i’ve seen don’t taken into account intermarriage). please don’t pretend i’m a retard for the purposes of commentary :-)

  • tgt

    I’m curious what % of hispanics in America would count as “visible” minorities. My hispanic friends (who were lefty and consciously hispanic) from college had to go out of their way to let you know they were hispanic. If they had had an Italian last name they would have just been thought of as a kind of swarthy white guy. A number of my “white” buddies were darker skinned than the hispanics I knew.

    In contrast, my local McDonalds is staffed mainly with short, stocky very dark-skinned Mexicans. And even if they were named John Smith, nobody would think they were white.

    I expect what counts as white will expand. For example I was watching Bobby Jindal the other day and realized I think of him as white. He looks white to me, just a white guy with really brown skin. I guess it’s his facial feature and accent. Nikky Haley also looks white to me.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ‘m curious what % of hispanics in America would count as “visible” minorities

    what’s you’re guess? i would say 65%. the majority of every latino group excepting cuban americans, and immigrants from chile, argentina & uruguay. in the case of these groups the overwhelming majority could become non-hispanic white if they just changed their name (and all these groups identify as white and european as opposed to mestizo societies [cuban americans are much more white than cubans as whole]). of course there’s an ascertainment bias in visual assessment because the obviously nonwhite ones are the ones who “look hispanic.”

  • http://haquelebac.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-fossil-railroad/ John Emerson

    Groups can be defined on the basis of almost anything: race, religion, language group, place of origin, or clan. Animosity and discrimination develop, or don’t develop, based on local historical circumstances. The Burakumin in Japan were caste identical to other Japanese in race, religion, and language. They were descended either from ancestors in unclean trades such as undertaking and slaughtering, or from defeated traitors and rebels, or from both. The stigma didn’t go away with later generations and wasn’t erased by personal good behavior.

    This is a case where the definition of a pariah group is pretty clearly a functional outcome of social organization and is hard to think of as the social consequence of a real difference, at least to us. But the animosity traditional Japanese felt was as strong as it is in cases when there’s an ethnic or religious basis.

    Even within the US racial feelings vary geographically. Racism against native Americans is still intense where there are large numbers of them, but that’s only near a few reservations and in some urban neighborhoods. Elsewhere people care less and pay less attention.

    If you look through American history, you’ll find that Finns and Germans were subject to hatred during certain places and times. It really doesn’t depend on much of anything except a local situation.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    john, one issue though is phenotypic salience. minorities like the burakumin, cagots, or even dalits can lose their pariah status by “passing” (just like some kids go from nerd to popular kid status after moving because they can hide their earlier reputation and start anew). i had a friend whose father was from oklahoma and of part cherokee ancestry, a fact which he hid when he went to univ. of oklahoma and passed (this was in the 1960s).

    i think your overall point is valid, but the differences between religious and racial pariah status should be emphasized too.

  • http://haquelebac.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-fossil-railroad/ John Emerson

    Apparently the problem burakumin had was that in Japan your ID papers include your ancestral village, which is enough to mark burakumin, so even after the curse was lifted people would know who was who. Someplace like the American frontier would be at the far pole from that. The great grandfather of a friend of mine came to Idaho from Texas and never said a word to anyone about his past, and the family guessed that he must have left in a big hurry.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan
  • jemand

    I think it will be increasingly difficult to discriminate against groups for historical reasons– in a global economy people will just up and move so often that keeping track of these sorts of things will become very difficult for a society to keep track of enough to support a lasting discrimination.

    Unfortunately, I don’t necessarily see discrimination based on phenotypic characteristics ending quite so quickly or easily.

  • http://thecoldequations.blogspot.com coldequation

    50% of american latinos/hispanics put “white” as their ethnicity on the census.

    That’s because they are, by census definitions. But they aren’t according to everyday terminology.

    From the 2000 census definition (pulled from wikipedia)

    “White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as “White” or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.”

    “American Indian and Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment.”

    Mestizos generally don’t have tribal affiliation (in fact, they often have racist attitudes towards Indians), and they do have some Euro ancestry, so they fit “white” better out of those two choices. But that doesn’t mean that they really think of themselves as white, or that anybody else does, or that they would choose to identify themselves as white if others would go along with it. It means the census is stupid.

    Like you said, Cubans could change their names and call themselves white and everybody would believe them (because racially, they ARE pretty much white). But they don’t, probably because they like being Cuban, and becoming white does not have the benefits that it had to prior generations of ethnics, who could get ahead by changing their name to “Johnson” and becoming Episcopalians. Why wouldn’t other Hispanics think they same way?

    “anyway, i have obviously posted in non-anecdote fashion before (the projections that i’ve seen don’t taken into account intermarriage).”

    I must have missed that one. Link? Is there really enough intermarriage to substantially throw of the projections in only 40 years, even if you assume that lots of multiracial people will choose whiteness? And why would they?

    I don’t think extrapolating from the experience of previous ethnic groups, who were genetically European, in a milieu in which what Archie Bunker called “regular Americans” were unashamedly dominant, and in which there was no such thing as affirmative action, community activists, white guilt, and minority scholarships, is really very useful. There are far fewer benefits to being white now, and the TV tells us to be proud of our non-white ancestry, not our white ancestry.
    http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/The_Color_Yellow

    I don’t think it’s impossible, but I just don’t see why biracial people, let alone non-mixed Asians or Hispanics, would particularly want to pick the Euro teams, even if the other team would accept them. Maybe I don’t see it because I am white, maybe there’s some appeal that I don’t get, but what’s so great about whiteness that so many of these Hispanics and Asians are even going to want it?

    “please don’t pretend i’m a retard for the purposes of commentary”

    I didn’t say anything rude, and I dealt strictly with facts. There’s nothing to take personally.

    And, BTW, for anybody who’s interested, here are those census projections, the ones that don’t take into account intermarriage and say that we’ll be nonwhite by 2050:
    http://www.census.gov/population/www/projections/summarytables.html

  • MikeP

    I have a friend whose family emigrated from Lebanon to Chicago and then to Alabama back in the 1930s. They started a store and then a mill and his father and uncles very quikcly became leading citizens in the (very) small town. They were deacons on the largest Presbyterian church in town. Founded and served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce. They married into some of the oldest families in town. In short, at a time and place where Jim Crow was ner its worst. There was absolutely no doubt these people were white and were treated as such.

    Today, more than my friend tells me his granddaughter, who is just 1/8 Lebanese and 7/8 the generic Southern mix of various British ethnicities, considers herself an Arab-American and not white. There are clearly forces at work that my cause non-Europeans, and maybe even some Europeans, to wish to no longer identify as white.

    Oh, and as someone noted earlier, if I didn’t know Nikki Haley was Indian, I never would have guessed she was anything other than another white Southern woman. I’ve seen plenty of “white” people down here who areat least as dark as her.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I didn’t say anything rude, and I dealt strictly with facts. There’s nothing to take personally.

    dude, if you read my blog, how could you think that i don’t know that the majority of births around now are non-hispanic white? most people are duller than you i assume. they don’t know facts so it’s useful to point them out. generally isn’t the case with me on demographic issues. i disagree with a lot of your assertions, though not too strongly (you could be right, i could be wrong, though in many cases i think the outcome for 2050 is inderminate as should be clear by the title). but i don’t want to get into it because this is a fuzzy zone and not science and i don’t even know you’re background or if you’re a white nationalist, in which case it’s useless to have a discussion because your presuppositions make the issue foregone. it is beneficial to identify as white, though perhaps it is best to have it both ways like lots of people of native american identification and white looks have. i know plenty of eurasians and part-hispanics who aren’t too obsessed with emphasizing their colored identity, though that has some assortative aspects i assume. affirmative action doesn’t really impact most people anyhow (elite universities, large corporations and gov. employment if you want to climb up the ladder).

    re: data, check out my post on argentina:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2009/12/how-argentina-became-white/

    i’ve seen some data on chile, but the marker set is small, though generally most people assume that chile has a greater load of amerindian genes than argentina; closer to 25-30% as opposed to 20%. one can have a substantial minority of non-european ancestry and still be credibly assumed to be white, as argentines generally are.

    we already have plenty of evidence from latin america (brazil) and american media (keanu reeves, dean cain, jennifer lopez, jessica alba, ben kingsely) that people with visible non-european ancestry who are “close enough” can credibly pass if they want, and society will allow them to. if you’re not a white nationalist, than on the margins it is social conditions and incentives which are going to impact the % who conceive of themselves as white. i’m not confident that in 2050 the same incentives which apply on a macrosocial scale in 2010 incentivizing minority identification will hold, and on a personal level two generations of 30% intermarriage by hispanics and asians with non-hispanic whites is going to create lots of people with mixed backgrounds who will have choices. you could have made projections about race relations from 1930 to those in 1970 as well. how would that have worked out?

  • Katharine

    Totally unrelated, but Joe Lieberman is suggesting that the president have an internet kill switch and the Republicans are trying to blame Obama for it instead of Lieberman because Lieberman’s on their side.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Is there really enough intermarriage to substantially throw of the projections in only 40 years, even if you assume that lots of multiracial people will choose whiteness?

    the projects show a little under 50% non-hispanic white. so yes, on the margins a few percent can change things a lot in terms of “majority” or not. it isn’t going to be a huge sea change obviously, but it does change the verbal narrative from majority minority to majority majority. btw, i came to think of this issue in the 90s after reading peter brimelow’s *alien nation*, where he moots the alternatives (see page 274).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    katherine, just so you know, i self-identify as conservative. though probably on foreign policy i agree with liberals more than “conservatives,” and i’m not much of a republican.

  • http://thecoldequations.blogspot.com coldequation

    i don’t even know you’re background or if you’re a white nationalist

    I’m not a “white nationalist.” My wife is Jewish.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I’m not a “white nationalist.” My wife is Jewish

    yes, but among the very high IQ white nationalists anti-semitism, or being even a gentile, is not necessary entailed :-) [and on the web apparently having a jewish background, at least in part, spouse, doesn't even entail that you're not anti-semitic!] the implication in offering the fact is clear enough.

  • Mark

    It always surprised me that Argentines are a quarter Native American, since the overwhelming majority of them just don’t LOOK mixed to me at all. Dienekes has a composite up of the Argentine football team and the (rather handsome) fictional fellow looks somewhere in between the Italian and Spanish composites he’s posted earlier, to my eyes. I guess a quarter Native American ancestry isn’t enough to throw off of the phenotype in a lot of cases. Which is interesting since I think I could usually pick out a primarily white person with 25% African ancestry, but then there’s a greater difference in phenotype between a European and a black person than between a European and a Native American.

    Incidentally, it’s a little discomforting when you google something like “Half indian half white” and the first sites that pop up are message boards like Stormfront. Am I racist? Were my knee-jerk liberal friends right all along…?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    mark, just to be precise the link i put up there shows a little under 20% autosomal DNA of amerindian provenance. but i don’t think we have enough representative samples from argentina to say with strong confidence whether it’s 15%, or 25%.

    as for people of 1/4 native ancestry, well, chuck norris has two cherokee grandparents:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Norris#Early_life

    because they come from paternal and maternal sides it makes sense that he could turn out very european looking. additionally, the typical cherokee is not likely to be full-blooded. but i think there’s a good chance that if he has two cherokee grandparents norris is 1/4 native american genetically.

    apparently will rogers was a little under 30% cherokee:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_rogers

    the two people who i have known who were 1/4 native american (that is, one grandparent was full-blooded native american) i assumed were white until they told me. though after you know their ancestry you can perceive tells of their ancestry (both had high cheekbones, and the male claimed his native american ancestry was why he hardly had any facial hair).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Which is interesting since I think I could usually pick out a primarily white person with 25% African ancestry

    my personal experience (since i have lived in overwhelmingly white areas where most black people are mixed race and many of these marry whites it’s a non-trivial N) with people who are 1/4 african american is that around 50% you can tell there’s non-white ancestry clearly before hand. among the other 50% you have a strong clue, though you might think they’re a very light skinned south asian, or middle eastern person, about half the time. the last 25% are hard to figure out how they could be black. in some cases you could assume that they’re black grandparent was very white in ancestry, but if you know the mixed-race parent you can usually assess this.

    as an example, here’s victoria rowell with her daughter maya:
    http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/RGEEKnwZK7u/Victoria+Rowell+Steps+Out+High+Tea+Noon/sQhoHOqE24L/Maya+Rowell

    the mother has a white and black parent, and from her appearance i assume she’s closer to 50/50 in ancestry than mostly white, as are 10% of self-defined unadmixed african americans.

  • http://thecoldequations.blogspot.com The real coldequation

    The “I’m not a white nationalist. My wife is Jewish” guy isn’t really me. I think I’ve pissed off some white nationalists by being insufficiently anti-semitic. But, no, I’m not a white nationalist, and even if I were, I understand that we’re talking about what society thinks, not what WNs think.

    Anyway, I see your point. It could go either way in 2050, depending on things that are hard to predict.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    the person has a different IP, so i believe you. the IP is from a turkish university, fwiw. they know your email address too, or at least the fake one you use to fill in comments.

  • LongMa

    Another good example from Razib’s last post is the American news achorer Soladad O’brian.

    She is half black Cuban/white Aussie

    Her children’s father is white.

    Look at the children.

    http://www.traditionalhome.com/images/img_soledadobrien_2.jpg

    I think one looks stereotypical light Mestizo. The boys, to me look typically white American. The blond girl has kinky hair, which makes her stand out and her facial features seem odd, although she is blond and quite pale.

    So these kids are 1/4 black.

    Soladad’s mother is, I’m guessing 20-30% European in ancestry.

    http://blackhippychick.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/soledad-1.jpg

    This is based off the appearance of people I share with on 23&me, some are only 65% African in ancestry and can nearly pass for a West African, all depends on the phenotype genes they end up with.

  • jemand

    @LongMa,

    Seriously? You think that one girl looks “stereotypically light Mestizo?” You think the kinky hair looks like a tell-tale sign of black ancestry? That hair looks exactly like my sister’s who’s parents are Scottish and German and a little bit of other things, but not African for at least the generations I’ve seen pictures of (through great grandparents at least). She looks northern-european to me.

    heck I wouldn’t have given a second glance at the MOTHER in thinking she might not be white (though I’d think Spanish heritage rather than, say, Swedish). Everyone in that picture looks stereotypically WHITE to me, not mestizo or kinky-black haired or whatever.

    This also goes for the comment about the girl in the main post being “obviously asian.” Really? I never would have guessed. Sure maybe if I squint really hard and knowing her history ANYWAY, but really I think it’s a matter of knowing her parent’s heritage because of the post, so then reading into it.

    I’m guessing in the future using race as a shorthand for characterizing appearance is going to be ineffective. Intermarriage will mix and match various phenotyical characteristics so you would have to specify skin tone, eye color, hair color, facial shape, length of forehead/nose/placement of cheekbones, etc. And not be able to rely on touchstones like “Asian” or “European” to peg 4 or 5 of those characteristics at one time.

    Of course, that’s when you don’t just pull up a picture of the person you’re talking about on your iphone so you don’t even need to describe them so specifically.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ’m guessing in the future using race as a shorthand for characterizing appearance is going to be ineffective. Intermarriage will mix and match various phenotyical characteristics so you would have to specify skin tone, eye color, hair color, facial shape, length of forehead/nose/placement of cheekbones, etc. And not be able to rely on touchstones like “Asian” or “European” to peg 4 or 5 of those characteristics at one time.

    in latin america (brazil) racial identity can vary within the family, as it tracks phenotype as much as ancestry. so empirically we have cases around the world, and intermarriage does not make race go away, it just changes it from the euro-american model. so in brazil people who obviously some non-european ancestry can be white, though someone who looks like pele can not.

    i think both soledad o’brien and vanessa hugdens exhibit obvious non-european ancestry fwiw, so subjectivity is a matter at issue.

  • LongMa

    Jemand:

    Maybe, are you American? I think Americans are a bit heightened to any sign of African features, which brings me to another point.

    What you said about interracial marraige may be true, but interracial marraige is slowing down, as people have more “co-ethnics and co-racials” to marry. We will see how much over all effect this has as time goes on, but I think it will be significant.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100526/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_interracial_marriage

    I’ve lived in areas with a lot of Asian co-ethnics (where Asians were nearly 40% of the population, mostly East and Southeast Asians and the interracial dating between them and others was far less than in places where I’ve seen Asians that were only 10% or 20%). So I believe the stats showing a slow down where co-ethnic co-racial combination are more common for immigrant and 2nd generation immigrants.

    Also everyone is not mixing at the same rate. There are relatively few Asians in America in reality, less than 6% of the population.

    Hispanics, as someone said, about 62% are basically functionally white but for culture and language, etc. So if they marry “white Anglos” there really is no major difference.

    African Americans have slowly increased in the rate of interracial marriage for years, but in reality that is not a good indicator for them since about 1/2 don’t marry, and about 70% have kids out of wedlock. What I do know is about 20% of black men cohabitation are with a non-black woman. Based on my experience, probably half these people have children.

    http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2009/05/marriage-and-cohabitation-rates-by-race.html

    Still, even with that there is no evidence that African Americans are marrying out/cohabitating out even half as much as Hispanics or Asians.

    They will likely remain a very distinct group for awhile, way passed 2050.

  • LongMa

    @ Razib:

    A lot of this comes down to cultural reference.

    “i think both soledad o’brien and vanessa hugdens exhibit obvious non-european ancestry fwiw, so subjectivity is a matter at issue.”

    If Vanessa Hudgens had a Filipino father and white mother and her name was De La Cruz, would most people assume her “white”? I don’t know, this depends on who is looking but I don’t know anyone who thinks she is “white” most people I know thought she was Latina or some mix of something.

    Look at Johny Depp, if his name was Johny Martinez, what would people say he was?

    http://www.dioenglish.com/wiki/uploads/201002/1265857527HVqaJeH8.jpg

    What about Vanessa Williams? If her last name was Diego.

    Now I know according to the census you can have “white”, “black”, etc Hispanics.

    However, most people treat “Hispanics” as a race in the United States. I myself have been corrected in public that certain baseball players were NOT BLACK but Hispanic. LOL Usually they are Dominican or Puerto Rican. If they looked exactly the same and their last name was Jackson and Washington, they would definitely be considered and treated as black in the U.S.

    Also I don’t agree necessarily that a Asian/white mix will look ambiguous and be accepted as “white” if they choose.

    I grew up in a military family, saw a lot of half Koreans, Japanese, Filipino kids, most of them (I’m going to say 60% or so) look Mestizo to Asian.

    Look at actors like

    Russel Wong (looks nearly pure Northeast Asian)
    The rapper from Linkin Park (on the front right, looks to me like a stereotypical Mexican American)

    http://www.littledeermusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/LinkinPark.jpg

    Also look up:

    Erika Sawajiri

    Maria Ozawa (warning Japanese Adult Actress)

    Marie Helvin

    Maggie Q (Viet/Aussie)

  • jemand

    LongMa,

    I’m a US citizen (since we’re talking a bit about Latin America here, I’ll try to be precise), so to that extent I apparently don’t follow your hypothesis that we are more heightened to perceive African features in mixed-race people.

    however, I am an ex-Seventh Day Adventist, and they seem to have created their own mini-culture of their own, complete with worshiping on a different day than everyone else, eating different foods than everyone else, going to different schools and universities than everyone else, etc. I remember a very HIGH rate of inter-racial marriage within the Adventist community– however, there was a very low rate of intermarriage between Adventists and non Adventists.

    This may color my apparent inability to see racial distinctions in the wider population. Then again, maybe it’s because I’m younger and grew up in a more racially diverse US than previously, I have no idea. Maybe I’m just uniquely unobservant.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    If Vanessa Hudgens had a Filipino father and white mother and her name was De La Cruz, would most people assume her “white”?

    i agree. you know that norah jones’ full name is geethali norah jones shankar? i think she’s probably more marketable with the name norah jones in the mainstream music market, though those “in the know” will know about her father.

    i wish there was more survey data on this.

    though i will add that this isn’t an either/or dichotomy. the issue in the USA is black vs. non-black. to make it concrete, kristen kruek was cast partly because they wanted someone “exotic” for her role. they wouldn’t have cast a girl who was half-black, as that isn’t “exotic,” it’s just black. though black women who are only marginally black, like rashida jones (who identifies more as jewish in interviews), can plausibly play the “exotic” role (as she did in the office).

  • geeta

    What is this nonsensical obsession about counting citizens based on their (and their ancestors’) skin color – does it affect, in any way, how the country functions? Or is this just another one of those stats spewing articles that serve no purpose.
    A lot of ‘white americans’ would want to somehow trace back their family to a native american, just to establish that they are the rightful occupants of the country. But then, it all depends on what point they are trying to prove – self assigned ‘purity’ of race or legality in the country!

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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