It looks like the big news of the day was that more minority babies were born in America in 2011 than white babies.
Whatever that means.
Anyone ever hear of a plurality? If white births made up 49.6% of all births in the U.S., that’s a pretty big number. Seems the media freakout was that if you took at all the other ethnicities and added them together they would outnumber whites.
Which implies that there’s some kind of takeover of the country? Or what?
Is there some belief that all the minorities are going to get together and say “This is our country”? Because if that’s the case, the answer is, “Well, yeah. If you’re born in America, you’re an American, so this is your country.”
And that is bad because …?
I’m not trying to be dense. I just don’t see the significance of it. We’re Americans. We don’t all get along. That’s sort of the fun of being an American. You’re supposed to have different views. That’s why people left Europe centuries ago. That’s why people leave their countries today. Because, contrary to what the paranoids on the right say, the country’s success has been its diversity.
And what is white, anyway? Historically, when other ethnic groups arrived in America seeking opportunity, they were cast as outsiders. Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans. All lived in ghettos. All assimilated. All white. Those white babies aren’t 100 percent from one ethnic group.
Two ethnic groups were severely oppressed. Native Americans (who actually are THE real Americans) and Africans (who prior to the mid-19th century didn’t come over voluntarily). Are they trying to tell us that those groups are less American than the European whites who came over after the mid-19th century? Anyway, even when you put those two groups together, that’s still doesn’t outnumber whites. Asians have arrived. Add them, and they still don’t outnumber whites.
Are we supposed to believe that people coming from South America and south of the U.S. border are the tipping point? Hell, the ancestry of vast numbers of them is European. So doesn’t that make them European whites? So aren’t European whites still the majority? And since I’m going to be really cynical about this, in the Trayvon Martin case, wasn’t George Zimmerman white until his father said his mother was Hispanic? When the cops brought him in after the shooting, do you really think they looked at him, saw the name George Zimmerman and said, “Oh, yeah. He’s Latino.”?
I can’t really reason this one out. I’ll hand it off to Juan Cole at Informed Comment, who titles his blog post: Minority Births the Majority? On how the whole idea of White People is Made Up.
Whiteness as it was constructed in the nineteenth century was not about skin color but about being Protestant and propertied. There were even distinctions within the group. WASP or White Anglo-Saxon Protestant did not refer to all Protestants of English heritage, but rather to a northeast elite that tended to marry within themselves and to have a disproportionate hold on political and business office. The Scottish-American elite was another subgroup (Presbyterian as opposed to Episcopalian).
So not all whites were equally white. Moreover, Catholic immigrants such as the Irish, the Poles and the Italians were either not considered white when they first came or were denoted as a lesser category of white. Jews, Arabs, Japanese and Chinese were also not considered white. Indeed, a special law was made to keep Chinese in particular out of the country.
Over time, the Catholic minorities who immigrated into the US in the big 1880-1924 wave, before racist immigration laws were implemented, became accepted as ‘white.’ In the past 30 years, Jews have been accepted as white. It is even possible, I think, to argue that middle class Blacks on the model of Bill Cosby’s the Huxtables have become ‘white.’ You’ll note that Harry Reid said of Obama the candidate that he ‘had no dialect,’ so for older ‘whites,’ blackness was in part cultural, wrought up with an imagined African-American speech pattern. Thus, the Obamas are in some sense ‘white,’ producing that odd argument about whether Obama is ‘black enough,’ which non-Americans must have found baffling.
Read his whole post. Then ask yourself if the breathless minority birth announcement is even relevant.