How the census misleads about race

The most common reaction to the release of the 2020 census was summarized in the headline “Census data shows number of whites has dropped...

The most common reaction to the release of the 2020 census was summarized in the headline “Census data shows number of whites has dropped”. The data shows that the number of whites is decreasing by 8.6%. This observation was often accompanied by a political projection: if gerrymandering could benefit the Republicans in 2022, the political future belongs to the Democratic Party, which has large majorities among the minorities.

But these conclusions about race and politics are based on misleading census results. Contrary to Democratic hopes and right-wing concerns, the white population of the United States did not decline much between 2010 and 2020 and may in fact have increased.

The “races” are not defined by biology but by a cultural convention. Until the beginning of the 20th century, many Anglo-Americans did not identify Southern or Eastern Europeans as “white”. In 1918, 33-year-old Harry S. Truman, visiting New York, wrote to his cousin: “This city has 8,000,000 people. 7,500,000 of them are of Israeli origin. (400,000 wops and the rest are white.) ”After World War II, Jews and Italians were identified as“ white ”.

Something similar seems to be happening to many Hispanic and Asian Americans. About 3 in 10 Hispanics and Asians marry, usually with a white partner. According to a 2016 study by economists Brian Duncan and Stephen J. Trejo, 35% of third-generation Hispanics of mixed parents no longer identify as Hispanic; and 55% of third-generation Asian Americans of mixed parents no longer identify as Asians. A 2017 Pew report found that among Hispanic Americans who do not identify as Hispanic, 59% said they were viewed by others as white.

The racial identity of Hispanics is particularly puzzling as the census asks questions about “Hispanic, Latin, or Spanish origin” separately from race. In the 2010 census, 53% of those who said they were of Hispanic origin checked only “white,” a 58% increase in the number from 2000. This increase in white Hispanics contributed to explain the increase in the number of whites before the census. But in the 2020 census, just 20.3% of Hispanics checked only “white,” contributing to the 8.6% drop in the total number of people identifying only as white.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How the census misleads about race
How the census misleads about race
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