The Census Bureau suggests that the population of blacks, Latinos, Asians and mixed-race Americans will soon combine to outnumber non-Hispanic whites, making America for the first time a minority-majority nation.
But two prominent sociologists–Herbert Gans and Richard Alba–recently argued that such predictions are probably wrong and any anxiety concerning the nation’s changing demographics is surely wrong-headed. For instance, heavy intermarriage rates among both Latinos and Asians won’t necessarily swell the non-white population, since many children of such mixed unions choose to identify as white, or simply as multi-ethnic Americans.
Already, half of Hispanics list their race as “white.” Prominent Latinos like Marco Rubio or Eva Longoria are no more “non-white” than children of Italian, Greek or Jewish immigrants of prior generations who were initially stigmatized as inescapably alien.
Affirming a unifying American identity won’t necessarily end cultural, economic or religious differences, but it should help move us past our insane over-emphasis on increasingly misleading characterizations by race.