Thursday, June 12, 2014

White Bread Nation

We are a mostly white nation and will be for some time.   But what is white, exactly?

As I noted in an earlier posting, the nation's overall population is about 63% white, 17% Hispanic, 13% African American and 5% Asian, according the Census Bureau.  Yet there are some folks who already think that whites are a minority in this country.   And alarmist articles posit that by 2043, white people will be a "minority"!

But of course, even if those statistics are true, by "minority" what we really mean is 49.999999% of the population - still the largest ethnic group in the country, and probably will remain the largest ethnic group in the country for decades, perhaps centuries.   Unless all the other "ethnic groups" can band together to out-vote whitey, not much is going to change. (And divide-and-conquer will prevent that).

One problem in parsing these statistics, however, is, what exactly do we mean by white?

Quick Question: Is President Obama Black or White?

Most Americans (indeed most human beings on the planet) would be quick to answer, "Well, Black, of course!" and they would be wrong.

You see, Obama is half-white and half-black.   And that is the first problem in doing racial statistics in America (or indeed anywhere).   We tend to count people as "people of color" if they are of mixed-race makeup (which most "people of color" are).   We count them as "white" only if they are 100% Wonder-bread white.  And this goes back to the odious days of slavery, where we called people mulattos or octaroons based on how much "cream was in the coffee".

To racists in the South (or indeed, anywhere), so long as there was one drop of black blood in your genetic background, you were black, plain and simple.  

This is, of course, all a bunch of silly racism.   No, not the "one drop of black blood" nonsense, but rather the idea that you can "count" people as black or white, when in fact, there is a lot of racial interbreeding on this planet to the point that not many people can be counted in one column or another.

Nazi Germany had similar laws and rules about Jewishness, usually claiming someone as Jewish if at least on grandparent was Jewish (the Nazis, ironically, had a laxer test that the KKK).

So what's the point of this?   The point is, white folks are not becoming a minority so much as what it means to be white, black, brown, or whatever, is changing.   More and more people are in interracial marriages, and thus the children of these marriages are of mixed-race backgrounds.  The racists at the Census bureau would count these children as black, hispanic, or whatever, but not "white", even if their make-up was 50/50.

So, it is not that we are being "overrun" by minority immigration or whatever, or that the "colored people" (people of color) are out-reproducing us, but rather the definition of whiteness, blackness, and brownness is skewed.   We count interracial children as minorities, for some reason, but never as white.   That in and of itself, is racist.

And yea, I said racists at the Census bureau, half in jest, as anyone who tries to calculate population based on race or color is, in effect, being racist themselves.   To be a truly color-blind society, we will have to become truly color-blind, and stop making note of such things, which are really irrelevant, anyway.  The Census bureau does not categorize us by eye color, hair color, or shoe size.  Why by race?

And one reason these racial statistics are irrelevant is that racial identification statistics are based on self-reported data.   If you check off the "Eskimo" box on the Census form, that's what they put you down for.   It is hard to prove or disprove someone as being one race or another, and any attempts to do so are odious in nature.   It would be a sick scene in a courtroom, if a judge were to attempt to establish a standard of blackness or whiteness or whatever.  And who would the burden of proof be on?  If I claimed to be black, would I have to prove it by showing black ancestors?   And how could I prove or disprove my ancestors were black?   Maybe the best way to address that issue is to just not go down that road, period.

And self-reporting is an interesting thing, as many Hispanics and Latinos report themselves to be "white" and consider themselves to be "white" and for all I know, are entitled to do so.  In fact, many Hispanics and Latinos despise the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" as they really are not descriptive of who they are, in terms of nationalism, racial makeup, or allegiance or loyalty.

As I reported before, many in Latin America take offense if you hint that they have any trace of Indian blood.   A friend of mine from Costa Rica got indignant when I said he had a face like a Mayan statue.   He said, "I am 100% of Spanish descent!  I have no Indian blood in me!" and I realized I had stepped on a cultural landmine.

While in Mexico, I was reading a tour book that had an interview with a Mexican philosopher, and he said, that to understand the Mexican people, you have to understand that their ethnic background is that of the Spanish conquistador father who raped the native Indian mother.  This creates, he said, an interesting psychological effect, in that Mexicans have identities in both cultures, but if pressed, will all claim to be of pure Spanish descent.

My Cuban friend is the same way, and he would bristle at any suggestion whatsoever that any part of his family had any shades of off-white in it.   Racism is alive and well, in Latin America (and the Caribbean).  He would not count himself as "Latino" or "Hispanic" but as "White" or "Spanish."   And of course, even though smack-dab in the middle of the Caribbean, Cubans would not likely view themselves as Caribbeans.   Labels are misleading.

So, what is the solution to all of this?   Stop counting.

The racial demographics system is flawed from the get-go, if we allow one race to be counted only if they are "pure" (100% white) and then lump everyone of mixed race into "colored" categories.   It is not only flawed, it is racist.  And you can't even try to fix it, so just stop trying and stop counting.

If you've studied Brownian motion in school, or understand the laws of probability, you would quickly figure out that in a county made up of a number of races, it is certain, over time, that eventually these races will mix and everyone end up one neutral shade of grey - or a rainbow of different shades, depending on how skin color is inherited.  And over time, that is what will likely happen in the USA.   And this is nothing to be alarmed about, but indeed, progress.

And when that happens, people will look back and say, "Gee, wasn't that odious how people back in 2014 used to label people based on their skin color?   Even government forms had a box to check off for 'Race'!!!  How primitive and backward-thinking!"

What someone's skin color is, should really be as insignificant as their eye or hair color.   This entire concept of "race" and "whiteness" really needs to be examined - or best yet, just tossed in the trash.

Because it is based on a flawed premise:  that in order to be white, you have to be 100% white, but to be any other race, you need only be partially of that race.

Racial statistics, therefore, are racist.