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As someone who worked on the 2010 census, I suspect the new numbers are not reflective of truly large change at all, but rather a more accurate representation of how Hispanics always thought of themselves, because 2010 was when they started specifying “Hispanic” as an ethnicity rather than a race, if my memory serves. My job was to go to people’s houses and ask them the census questions again as a quality control survey of sorts. Invariably, the Hispanic people I talked to wanted to put down “Hispanic” as both their race and their ethnicity, but there wasn’t a default Hispanic option in the race category. In training, we were instructed VERY clearly and explicitly to insist that they pick something else as their race, and only put down “other” with a Hispanic write in value if they insisted after asking three times. If that training was reinforced consistently across the census, it would explain a lot of the shift, especially if the 2020 census included Hispanic as a default race option.

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I think they incorporated that approach into the online version too. My wife is Latina and multi-racial. She was getting frustrated inputting her data but it eventually just worked after maybe 3 times.

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Yes, my understanding from the Census website was that they attribute most of the shift in demographics to the way they reworded the race question- now, people who choose white or black are asked to cite specific countries of origin, and the added instruction emphasizes that people can select more than one option. Their back-to-back studies suggest people responded differently based on these prompts, not “just” a change in how they think of themselves over the last 10 years. So a Hispanic respondent who might have just checked “white” last time and moved on now has to be more specific and cite country of origin, with “German, Irish, English, Egyptian, Lebanese…” listed and now thinks, oh they don’t mean me, and checks Some Other Race instead.

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"You’re Chinese-Peruvian-Polish? That’s cool, I’m from Texas and I lived in California, Japan, and New York!"

This was basically my experience growing up in New York in the 80's and 90's. When you made friends with someone you'd ask them something like "where are you from?" or "where is your family from?" or something and you'd get a breakdown of countries of origin. I knew the ethnic layout of my neighborhood (mostly Italian and Irish) and the next neighborhood over (mostly Italian and German). I knew which countries most of my friends' parents and grandparents had come from. Older members of my family would sit around at family gatherings talking about how their parents/grandparents got to the US and what our oral histories said about which parts of their countries they came from. Maybe as first- and second-generation immigrants it was their way of holding onto their roots.

Later I found out this was not really the norm in the US, in two ways. One, I heard Asian friends complaining about White people asking them the "where are you from" question, which they interpreted as a denial of their Americanness rather than just a normal topic of conversation, as it is for New Yorkers from a patchwork of ethnically-sorted immigrant enclaves, like myself. Two, I noticed some POC online mocking White people for talking about where our ancestors came from. I think for obvious reasons most Black Americans won't be able to trace their countries of origin so I can understand where this difference came about.

Then at 29 I moved to Georgia-the-country, and upon hearing my last name, people often ask me where I'm "really" from - meaning, where is the name "Zupancic" from (answer: it's a South Slavic name, and by oral tradition my ancestors came from "somewhere near Vienna" so geographically I think they were probably Slovenian). In Georgia, by the way, there are different suffixes on surnames associated with different regions of the country - "ia" for Samegrelo, "dze" for Imereti, "shvili" for central and eastern Georgia. People here sit around talking about which villages they are "from", having moved to the capital but still maintaining ties to, and associations with, the ancestral homeland.

Which is all to say I think perhaps there's something universal about this type of self-identification, although it's interesting how it intersects with different political realities, like racism and people's feelings towards immigrants from different places.

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Which form this future takes is heavily contingent on policy decisions. My big takeaway from Alba was that we should change the way the Census works. In particular, we should start counting racially mixed people primarily as "mixed" and/or double count as each component racial/ethnic group, rather than using a modern day one-drop rule. Just doing this would solve SO many problems in our national narrative.

The way the math works today mathematically guarantees that the white population will decline, and the uninformed narratives from the press either celebrate this fact or bemoan it. If, however, you take into account all the mixed couples, you see a very different picture.

The future of America depends on being able to transcend racial divisions. We managed to create "white" people from a mix of European ethnicities and religious groups sometime in the 20th century. Due to intermarriage, we have a strong path to incorporating Hispanic and Asian people into a similar mainstream. To your point, the data on black people is less encouraging, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

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It would also be interesting to add a “no racial affiliation” or “prefer not to say” option, to start to capture the population of people ready to ditch the whole concept. But admittedly, the Census is not supposed to be a psychological experiment…

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Whenever possible, this American of northern European descent answers the Race question by checking Other and writing in Human. It's my little rebellion against the idea of race.

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In 1980 5% of Black marriages were to another ethnicity, in 2015 it was 18%. The numbers for Asians and Hispanics are much higher, and notably, much, much higher among non-immigrants Asians and Hispanics. Assimilation is happening faster than ever, although for Blacks it started more recently. I don't see any signs that it's slowing down, either.

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2017/05/18/1-trends-and-patterns-in-intermarriage/

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Asia is a big continent full of women. For that matter, Africa is a big continent full of men.

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It’s pretty obvious to me that the increase in “two or more races” Hispanics is due to the examples provided for the native option.

Whereas in the past the question provided no example and requires one to write out the tribal affiliation, strongly suggesting that only US tribes were acceptable, the last census includes “Mayan” and (to the dismay of indigenous activists) “Aztec” as examples.

I will bet money I don’t have that is you see the breakdown it would be dominated by white+Aztec and white l+Mayan, that was always how those people really identified anyway based on their nation’s origin myths, so in that sense I wouldn’t read that much into that particular change.

In a mother note, arriving at mestizaje with a 500 year delay is very funny, that’s what “racial hygiene” does to mfs

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Sorry for all the typos, always happens when I write on my phone

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Bloomberg: "Are You White? It May Depend on How You’re Asked" Changes to the 2020 Census questionnaire explain a lot of the demographic shifts we saw around race in the report https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-08-17/white-americans-counted-in-more-ways-than-one-in-2020-census

Excerpts:

On race, the Census Bureau didn’t so much change the questions it asked for the 2020 Census as change how people were instructed to answer. . . . the new “AND print origins” instruction on the race question, along with the added space for printing, seem to have been most significant. While one could check multiple racial boxes in 2010, Census respondents were outright encouraged in 2020 to think back on their heritage and make sure every ancestor was accounted for. Partly as a result, the number of Americans identifying as multi-racial went up 276%, from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020.

That gain of 24.8 million people is in the same ballpark as the 19.3 million decline in the number of Americans identifying as White alone. That’s not to say the shift was only about people changing their racial categories — lots of interracial babies were born over the past decade, lots of immigrants of varying backgrounds arrived and lots of older White people died. The number of people identifying as White either alone or in combination with other races did rise, but at a much slower pace than the population as a whole (1.9% versus 7.4%).

It’s easy enough to find shifts in the data that can’t reasonably be explained by actual demographic change, though. The percentage of Hispanic Americans identifying as White alone plummeted from 53% in 2010 to 20.3% in 2020, while the share identifying as multi-racial rose from 6% to 32.7%. The percentage of Americans identifying as being of “some other race” either alone or in combination rose from 2.9% to 10.2%.

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I am an adult ESL and Civics teacher and I was working in Delaware in 2009 and 2010 and the board of education was pushing us to prepare our mostly Hispanic students for the changed Census questions.(Delaware puts a lot of money into census outreach always hoping the latest population increase will give them a second house rep!) It was really a struggle because most of our students came from Mexico where Hispanic is considered a race and colorism is prevalent. Many just refused and hand wrote Hispanic or Mexican as their race. I was not comfortable forcing them to choose a race as defined by the US government. I imagine those that participated in the 2010 census were prepared for 2020. I think being othered and criminalized by Trump and harassed by his white supporters also played a role in rejecting whiteness as we define it.

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Interesting, to me, historical context for Noah's piece -- Rudolph Bourne, "Trans-national America," The Atlantic, July 1916. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1916/07/trans-national-america/304838/ Pushing back against the anti-immigrant, -Catholic, -Jewish, -Italian etc. sentiments of the time, he offers aspirational images:

America is a unique sociological fabric, and it bespeaks poverty of imagination not to be thrilled at the incalculable potentialities of so novel a union of men. . . . [T]he attempt to weave a wholly novel international nation out of our chaotic America will liberate and harmonize the creative power of all these peoples and give them the new spiritual citizenship, as so many individuals have already been given, of a world. . . . Let us make something of this trans-national spirit instead of outlawing it. Already we are living this cosmopolitan America. What we need is everywhere a vivid consciousness of the new ideal. Deliberate headway must be made against the survivals of the melting pot ideal for the promise of American life. . . . We cannot Americanize America worthily by sentimentalizing and moralizing history. When the best schools are expressly renouncing the questionable duty of teaching patriotism by means of history, it is not the time to force shibboleth upon the immigrant. . . . All our idealisms must be those of future social goals in which all can participate, the good life of personality lived in the environment of the Beloved Community. No mere doubtful triumphs of the past, which redound to the glory of only one of our transnationalities, can satisfy us. It must be a future America, on which all can unite, which pulls us irresistibly toward it, as we understand each other more warmly. . . . To make real this striving amid dangers and apathies is work for a younger intelligentsia of America. Here is an enterprise of integration into which we can all pour ourselves, of a spiritual welding which should make us, if the final menace ever came, no weaker, but infinitely strong.

A complete reading of the text, however, indicates that the various components of Bourne's ethnic mosaic would be listed on the 2020 Census as "White." So he was a product of his time. But in any case, I think his images are worth consideration for politically correct adaptation to the America's multi-racial present.

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The Federal Interagency Working Group on Improving Measurement of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) prepared a series of papers in 2016 https://nces.ed.gov/FCSM/interagency_reports.asp but it doesn't look like it came out with a final report. In the Trump years, the work is picked up by an interagency research group within the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology https://nces.ed.gov/FCSM/SOGI.asp

And now there's an Interagency Technical Working Group on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity that designed SOGI questions added to the weekly Census Household Pulse Survey https://omb.report/icr/202106-0607-003/doc/112605500

as of July 21, 2021 (compare Phase 3.2 to Phase 3.1) https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/technical-documentation.html, see questions D6 and D7 of https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/demo/technical-documentation/hhp/Phase_32_Household_Pulse_Survey_FINAL_English_SKIPS_081121.pdf

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"But I forsee the possibility that many others — especially White people living in exurban and rural areas and inculcated with right-wing ideas — could become a second racialized group excluded by choice or by force from whatever new mainstream emerges."

You're pretty darn out of touch with non-metro America if you think a racially focused White-Identity block of any major political concern is going to emerge there.

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This has to be the most author-political-affiliation skewed story I've seen to date.

Hispanics voted more for Trump in 2020 than they did in 2016.

Hispanics also tend to be far closer, religiously/socially, to the "white" than they do to the "woke". The only reason they have skewed more towards the Democrat party is immigration - and that's a lower issue going forward precisely due to their being Americans already.

Alba is only describing what happened to other minorities in the US in the past - which again, the author might note that what used to be "Italians" or "Irish" vs. "whites" - they all lumped together at some point.

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At my school (as in high school + middle school but UK) I'd have said that racial identity for non-white British, non-Black British worked in a way where people described it like their hometown. Like, whenever I played football in park people would ask me where I'm from in a similar way I think to the way people ask what one's hobbies are. (For reference I look white if you're expecting me to white and middle eastern if you're expecting me to be not white.)

I live in Brent which is a part of London where the majority of people aren't from the UK but a plurality are.

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In Hawaii, after the pro-Hawaiian state constitution of the 70s, self-identification as Hawaiian famously went up.

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> But in fact, there’s another, even stranger alternative racial future for America — and for the world — the possibility that people will begin to organize their racial identities and affiliations not according to who they live near, but who they affiliate with online.

I’m sorry(?) to report this is the plot of a Cory Doctorow story (Eastern Standard Tribe).

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There have always been, and likely will always be, groups of "Americans" who aren't part of the "mainstream", either by choice or by proscription, often both. Consider the Amish and Mennonites, native Americans, more recently the Haradim. 60 years ago a government professor mentioned the "melting pot", then the "tossed salad". That was back in the day when a best selling book could be titled: "Protestant, Catholic, Jew" (Will Herberg).

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I have always I had my suspicions of the demographics that I see on google when I look at places I know well. Other things not mentioned are Illegal immigration.

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Seems as good a place as any to bring some historical context here around how the concept of "White" even got invented in the first place, since it's covering up as many diverse backgrounds as "Asian":

https://medium.com/message/how-white-people-got-made-6eeb076ade42

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