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February 01, 2012

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In fact, the casting of the old black-and-white movies is rather realistic when they are about contemporary milieus. They usually depict environments that were, at the time, segregated either by law, by custom or by socio-economic realities. The races really didn't mix that much. (On the contrary, Westerns of that time usually show a white-washed environment, free of half-blood Indians, negroes and the Chinese.)

First, I was surprised to find that the highest proportion of black population in the US was in 1790. I'd like to know more about that.

What I'm curious about regarding now is how we are going to respond, as a nation, to the continuing decline in the white population, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population.

If present trends continue, at some point in the not-too-distant future, whites will be a minority at the national level.

This doesn't bother me, personally, in the least. There is nothing, and ought to be nothing, about our identity as a nation that is bound to skin color, ethnicity, or national origin.

For that matter, there aren't very many of us that even *have* a clearly identifiable ethnicity or national origin. At least, not one single one. Most of us are mutts.

But I suspect it's going to be an issue, going forward. I more than suspect that it's an issue now.

We need to get our heads around the idea of the US not being a particularly white nation.

Russell: a good deal of the recent Right Wing freakout has to do with that. A primal scream, if you will.

Because not everybody agrees with your

There is nothing, and ought to be nothing, about our identity as a nation that is bound to skin color, ethnicity, or national origin.

I mean, I do, but others do not. Or, for some more nuance: some seem to believe that skin color/ethnicity/national origin automatically makes someone ideologically incompatible with our "identity as a nation." I disagree there too, of course.

I honestly did not know that over the past decade, the white population of the US declined in absolute numbers for the first time ever.

On the other hand, the explosion in "other" has been pretty obvious, though the graph is still amazing to see. (I don't suppose there were very serious efforts to count "Indians not taxed", as the Constitution put it, in the early years.)

These trends really explain a lot of things, both about the politics of reaction and about how the younger generation sees itself and the world.

Speaking of the decline in "white," the increase in "other" and the younger generation, how many of today's "others" are the descendants of both yesterdays "blacks" and "whites," but no longer see the need to identify as either "black" or "white?"

Just this weekend, after a pick-up truck with a really big American flag (for a vehicle) passed us, my wife and I had a discussion about the weirdness of nationalism and how it underlies so much of people's thinking without them realizing or questioning it as a basis for their opinions. It's not exactly the same as national identity, but you certainly need nationalism before you can get into having an idea of racial or ethic national identity.

These totally unnecessary social constructs are, for many people, like the air we breathe - just part of the fabric in which we exist. (Or maybe they're like postulates in geometry. Or both...)

@hairshirthedonist-
My geography classes are studying the former Soviet republics, and one of the issues we're looking at is nationalism. Several of my 9th graders have brought up the 'Southern redneck'* and asked if that is nationalism. I said no, that's just prejudice, but I am rethinking my answer. IMHO, Ethnic/cultural identity has to come first, and since this country doesn't have a single ethnic group/cultural background we dont have American nationalism. But after thinking about Southern culture/ethnicity, I think maybe that is nationalism - territory, culture, and ethnicity (of the majority culture). And it explains why some of those folks are so worked up over the current state of our demographics.
thanks, Dr. Science

*our school fight song is Dixie, and we used to wave the Confederate flag at pep rallies

Russell,

What I'm curious about regarding now is how we are going to respond, as a nation, to the continuing decline in the white population, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population.

I think it's possible that the response will be to redefine "white." Let's get the Asians in, and maybe even mixed-race people, and non-black Hispanics, and we can get back to a majority, maybe.

I mean, the whole thing is stupid, as you suggest, but if someone is desperate to claim that the majority is "white" there are ways to do it.

My own feeling wrt ethnicities is the more the merrier. That's how you get good restaurants, among other many other things.

"Just this weekend, after a pick-up truck with a really big American flag (for a vehicle) passed us, my wife and I had a discussion about the weirdness of nationalism and how it underlies so much of people's thinking without them realizing or questioning it as a basis for their opinions."

This is one of those topics where all rational theories, for example, economic competition, fail to account for seemingly bizarre human behavior and attitudes.

A couple of recent anecdotes from my life that capture what puzzles me.

1. I'm out at corporate HQ in CT, which, IMO is about the most boring vanilla geographic on the planet, and I'm having dinner after work with a higher up and I mention that my son is back from his deployment and will be at Ft Bliss, TX for a while. The suit says something like, "Good. Maybe if we get the right people in Washington he can use his skills along the border......" and I'm wondering what beef this guy could possibly have with Mexicans. I wonder if he has even met one, living in the suburbs around Hartford and working in a refined corporate office with his fat six figure salary and all.

2. An ignorant drugged out lazy good for nothing red neck, who ripped me off for a month and a half lay up fee for his horse, is in my face with a big ugly plug of chew in the front of his lip/gum connection telling me how much he hates "them no good Mexicans". Does this guy not have a metaphorical mirror to look into at least once in a while?

I've worked with Mexicans off and on for my entire life and I have a lot of respect for their work ethic and for them generally - and Mex cuisine is my favorite!

Any how, we are talking about the data in the graphs.
Is it reasonable to assume that "other", which is increasing rapidly according to the graph, the Hispanic population?

There are now a couple of states, CA being one of them, where whites are now the minority. Seems to cause some people a lot of angst. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out over the next decade or so.

russell said:

I was surprised to find that the highest proportion of black population in the US was in 1790. I'd like to know more about that.
It's not actually surprising, because the original deal to get the Constitution specified that slave imports would be banned in the nearish future, and that law was passed in 1807.

All the signers, North and South, wanted to have a white man's country, and they were worried that too many slaves being brought in would blacken the mix. So the black population in the US was esentially closed to immigrants from 1807 until 1965. Meanwhile, white immigrants were coming in by the tens of millions, so it's only to be expected that the proportion black of the population fell pretty steadily from its original high.

avedis:

Your question made me look at the data, and I see that part of the apparent explosion in "Other" is that the Census changed the definition of "White" between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, "Hispanic" wasn't a racial-oid classification, Hispanics could be of any race: White, Black, or Other. In 2010, White and Black Hispanics are counted as Hispanic, not as White or Black.

For 2010, "Other" is about 2/3 Hispanic, 1/6 Asian, 1/12 Mixed Race, plus some leftovers. It's not actually growing as fast as the chart makes it seem, but it's definitely growing much faster than the Black or White parts of the population.

In Hawai'i we've been a majority-minority state for going on fifty years, I think. There are incidents, but most of the time we all get along pretty well.

Take heart, Mainland! The fate worse than death isn't!

Yeah, Linkmeister, but a not insignificant portion of the population of the continental US is not aware that Hawaii is a US state. There are birthers that accept the birth certificate but think it serves as proof of their cause becasue of that. Actually, if Obama were older (born before Hawaii became officially a state), this would make some sense (same with Alaska) but not that much.

And the last time I recall hearing the phrase "reverse racism" used in conversation, it was a white ex-Hawaii resident complaining about how she had to get out because of all the discrimination against white people there. Wasn't sure how to respond.

My own feeling wrt ethnicities is the more the merrier.

Right on.

When I was a kid, what I learned about this country was that the big mix of ethnicities etc was a feature, not a bug.

I'm wondering what beef this guy could possibly have with Mexicans.

Maybe they're not mowing his lawn the way he likes?

I'm in the same boat as you, I find the animus toward Mexicans puzzling.

I have family in AZ, I can understand their concern, it's a concrete part of their daily life.

CT, not so much.

It's not actually surprising

Do you know (or can you point me to) numbers about how much of the 1790 black population was free vs slave?

Doc S, thanks for doing the legwork to put this together. Cool post.

Well, there is reputed to be a Kill haole day in Hawaii, though I tend to think it is a myth. However, here is the decision, where one of the dissenting judges is Alex Kozinsky, who I think von has mentioned occasionally.

Still, my sense of the term is that haole is derogatory not because the person is white, but because the person is an outsider, similar to the bumper stickers that one could see in Oregon saying 'Beautify Oregon, shoot a Californian'. That the outsiders are generally white gives the impression that it is racial.

Funny avedis should have that encounter right around the time the Mayor of East Haven, CT managed to cover our state in feces (or rather smear them about a bit after his police department did the original poo flinging).

I think the obvious answer, in both cases, is that these attitudes are irrational and basically about blame-shifting. Something wrong in your life? Those dirty furriners did it is an easy answer.

It's like the IT guy I know who reacted to outsourcing (that did not, btw, cost him his job) by disliking Indians. As if the Indians: a) caused it; and b) don't deserve a job. Hell, at least there you can see a threat to him.

I love both stories, avedis. Lots of people don't much like what they would see in the mirror.

I have family in AZ, I can understand their concern, it's a concrete part of their daily life.

So, how do they like it in southeastern Alta California? ;)

Unlike most civilizations practicing subhuman treatment of the Other and where satire of said practices is a concurrent or trailing indicator, American satire of society's ignorant treatment of the Other is a leading indicator, which is then taken as a good suggestion, a big idea to be adopted, internalized, and formalized into political platforms and policy formulations by, well, the usual suspects:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/02/what-is-self-deportation-ctd.html

I imagine self-identified members of the far right wing in this country, who now inhabit and swarm within the dead husk of the Republican Party like alien maggots, tune into Stewart and Colbert and takes notes, nod seriously (much like most Republicans and not a few liberals who appear on the shows and you can sense they don't quite get it; their mouths form smiles but their eyes register not just a lack of a sense of humor but also a sharp plummet in on-air I.Q.) to each other, and get to work in their think tanks producing position papers honing the very object of the satire: their own ridiculous prejudices and hatred of the Other.

If a satirist did a little straight faced bit poking fun at some Republicans "self-decapitating" their own selves, I wonder if they would actually take the bait and start doing it, maybe even improving things around the edges to make the practice cheaper and more efficient.

Erick Awfulson would no-doubt find this practice to be a necessary development in the sharpening of the Republican message.

Here's a basket. Have at it.

Make I suggest further improvements like a gang guillotine, with dozens of head holes and whirling blades.

CMI, well, they already have a circular firing-squad going in the primaries. It's a start.

And means that the general election advertising for the Democrats could be using a lot of negative ads written for Republican candidates in the primaries. I know parties tend to rally 'round once the conventions are over. But a) the disagreements this year have a seriously personal feel about them, and b) we are still in the process of ever more electronic content becoming not just widely available but immortal. Once, you didn't ahve to worry what you said about someone in the primary, because you had control over it. Now, it can show up on YouTube for months after you (try to) pull it.

"I love both stories, avedis. Lots of people don't much like what they would see in the mirror."

BTW, I did not occur to me as I was writing that you, Rob, are in CT. So sorry about the CT dis. It is, generally speaking, kinda vanilla, isn't it? Sure there are exceptions though :-)

liberal japonicus, that's kind of a special case, insofar as Kamehameha School is perceived as "only for Hawaiians" and the plaintiffs were trying to gain admission in part for the education but also to get the admissions opened to non-Hawaiian-blood students.

Kam Schools was set up in Princess Bernice Bishop's estate as a school "for the children of Hawaii," which has caused all manner of discussion (and the above lawsuit) as to what qualifies a kid as a child of Hawaii? Residence? Blood quantum?

There's certainly some dislike between the native Hawaiian sovereignty movement people and the rest of the population, but they're a loud and very small minority.

You're right that haole means outsider. It's similar to gaijin in Japan. Skin color has less to do with it than place of birth.

Though it is a special case, the dissent makes it sound like anti white prejudice is found all over. In fact, I was a bit surprised that there were not some specific acknowledgements of the special circumstances involved.

That also has me thinking that Obama's public voice, while exhibiting a kind of lilt and vocabulary of great African American speakers, doesn't really have any trace of Hawaiian pidgin, though I suspect he probably can speak pretty fluent pidgin, or at least be able to drop words like 'pau' and 'da kine' in the correct spots.

@linkmeister -

during my very brief time living in Hawai'i (Kailua in the early Seventies; my immediate neighborhood was majority but not overwhelmingly white; my [middle] school was plurality but not majority white), haole definitely did connote white in my not necessarily trustworthy memory, or at any rate recent immigrants from Japan were certainly not haoles (nor were they welcomed). Perhaps things have changed in the last forty years; a great deal has.

Oh, haole is still mostly used to denote white, no question. But its actual meaning is outsider.

Obama certainly doesn't use pidgin publicly, nor does he have the inflection that you often hear in pidgin-speakers. He will occasionally flash a "shaka" sign, though, which confuses Texans since they think it's the "Hook 'em Horns" gesture.

My info isn't current, but I have a couple different memories of a white person being called a haole, and then some correction that no, they weren't a haole, they were from Hawaii. Still, those were all white folks, and I've never heard of a Japanese person being called a haole. I'd be interested if, at a elementary/secondary school level, how kids might use the term.

I mentioned kill a haole day and there is this movie that centers around it.

Obama's language and speech is rather protean, so I think he could call it up if the occasion called for it, but the downsides are probably too great.

Damn sorry about screwing up the tag.

Avedis,

I didn't take it as a dis of CT. I took it as a story about one douchebag in CT (which gave me the opportunity to talk about other douchebags in CT). I don't get offended by someone pointing out misbehavior by someone who lives in my state. Why would I?

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