In a piece at The Atlantic Richard Alba (sociologist), Morris Levy (political scientist), and Dowell Myers (policy, planning, and demographics) underscore a point I have been making over the last twenty years, after Ruy Texeira and John Judis wrote The Emerging Democratic Majority—that the notion of a “majority minority” America would run into a few potholes:
In recent years, demographers and pundits have latched on to the idea that, within a generation, the United States will inevitably become a majority-minority nation, with nonwhite people outnumbering white people. In the minds of many Americans, this ethno-racial transition betokens political, cultural, and social upheaval, because a white majority has dominated the nation since its founding. But our research on immigration, public opinion, and racial demography reveals something quite different: By softening and blurring racial and ethnic lines, diversity is bringing Americans together more than it is tearing the country apart.
The majority-minority narrative contributes to our national polarization. Its depiction of a society fractured in two, with one side rising while the other subsides, is inherently divisive because it implies winners and losers. It has bolstered white anxiety and resentment of supposedly ascendant minority groups, and has turned people against democratic institutions that many conservative white Americans and politicians consider complicit in illegitimate minority empowerment. At the extreme, it nurtures conspiratorial beliefs in a racist “replacement” theory, which holds that elites are working to replace white people with minority immigrants in a “stolen America.”
The narrative is also false. By rigidly splitting Americans into two groups, white versus nonwhite, it reinvents the discredited 19th-century “one-drop rule” and applies it to a 21st-century society in which the color line is more fluid than it has ever been.
The irony is, of course, that today it is the “anti-racists” who are promoting the “one-drop rule”. The reality of the situation can be illustrated from my own family’s history.
Back at the turn of the 20th century my father’s paternal grandmother objected to one of son’s French-Irish girlfriend on the grounds that she wasn’t German. She refused to allow their marriage. They married after she died. My paternal grandfather didn’t encounter the problem his younger brother did—my paternal grandmother was German. More German than he, in fact. On the other side of my family my mother’s uncle married a Mexican girl. Their children, my mother’s cousins, are an interesting mix—my maternal grandmother’s family was Irish and French. Those cousins are my contemporaries and I have never thought of them as anything but white.
The reality of today is that many if not most Hispanics consider themselves to be white and that intermarriage among people of different races and ethnicities will continue. Most of us in the U. S. are mutts. My ancestry is Swiss, Irish, French, and German; my wife’s is English, Scottish, Irish, and Albanese (it’s a long story). Increasingly, there will be Americans who add Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, etc., Chinese, Japanese, and Indian into the mix. Most blacks in the U. S. except in certain isolated pockets, e.g. the Gullahs in the Southeastern United States, are already mixed race. Will they continue to identify and be identified as black? My guess is both. I think that many of the people who proudly claim Native American ancestry would be surprised to learn that’s not actually true but they do have sub-Saharan black ancestry.
I think that the present claims of “systemic racism” are counter-productive. I’m not denying that racism exists and creates problems. But everybody has grievances, some grievances are more serious than others, and bundling them all up into one unactionable grievance is not particularly productive.