NAACP: Same-Sex Marriage is a Colored Thang

Expectorate the Kool-Aid: Whites Births REMAIN A Majority

Do not believe the hype of journalist accounts (here and here) of recently released Census Bureau data that white births are no longer a majority in the United States.  The report indicated that in the 12 month period that ended last July, 49.6% of all US births were non-Hispanic whites.  This is compared to 50.4% of "minorities" who include Hispanics, Blacks, Asian-Americans, and individuals with multi-racial identities.

Journalist reports are heralding this as a tipping point and a future where whites will no longer be a majority--which can have huge implications for politics and social change.  There are. however, a number of problems with this analysis.  Before believing that we are turning the corner to a country where whites are a minority, it is important to be aware of the context of the Census Bureau's statistics.

First, the Census Bureau data, and the journalist's reports compares apples to oranges.  A simply way to put this is that the census data compares a racial category (whites) to racial (i.e. Black, Asian) and ethnic (Hispanic) categories.  The majority 50.4% threshold is reached only when the Census Bureau includes white people.  These white people are ethnically Hispanic, but they are undoubtedly racially white.  The majority reported percentage also includes what is likely to be a significant multi-racial population that ostensibly may look and grow up to identify as white.  Afterall, the Census Bureau is reporting data on births.  The bureau has no idea whether these babies will become adults who identify as Hispanic or multi-racial.  Neither the Census Bureau or journalist accounts of this report can know how these young white Hispanic and multi-racial children are going to grow up and racially identify.

Secondly, we are ignoring the fact that we may never see a shift in the majority population because whiteness is not static.  It is ever changing.  It is very likely (if it is not already happening) that white Hispanics can be absorbed into general whiteness.  It's not like we haven't seen it before.  A number of ethnic whites including Greeks and Italians have integrated into whiteness.  In fact, there is a great book on white assimilation by Noel Ignatiev called How the Irish Became White.  Why do we expect this not to happen with white Latinos? 

Lastly, understand that even if there were more black and brown babies being born than white babies, these minority babies are less likely to live.  According to data from the Kaiser Foundation, infant mortality rates for the years 2005-2007 show that the Black infant mortality rate (13.4) is more than double the rate for non-Hispanic whites (5.7).  While this same Kaiser report doesn't show a disparity in the Hispanic birth rate, this can be explained by the fact that this category includes a lot of ethnic and racial variety.  The Office of Minority Health at the US Dept. of Health & Human Services disaggregated different Latino populations and reported that Puerto Ricans have a 40% higher infant mortality rate than non-Hispanic whites.

Read reports on race in America with caution.  Be skeptical of the hype. 


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