Thursday, January 22, 2009

The End of White America (?)

“The End of White America” by Hua Hsu
The Atlantic

(This is my personal Cliff’s Notes version in which I summarize Hsu's excellent article. My personal comments or material I add will be indicated by a double bracket [[ ]].)

Sometime between 2040 and 2060 “white” will no longer be the majority racial group in the US. No one racial group will dominate.

What does this mean?

Pres. Bill Clinton, speaking at Portland State University in 1998, said that, “In a little more than 50, years, there will be no majority race in the United States. No other nation has gone through demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time…[these immigrants] are energizing out culture and broadening our vision of the world.”

Pat Buchanan has said, “Well, those students [at Portland State] are going to find out, for they will spend their golden years in a Third World America.”

[[These two comments pretty much bookend the discussions of the future of racial politics/attitudes in America. You either agree with one of the positions, or fall somewhere in between.]]

In any event, one thing is certain: White America is losing its control of affairs.

In response to the “loss of control” by white America, we see two responses. The first is more-educated, liberal youth moving to establish an identity other than whiteness. They are, in essence, trying hard to not be white. We also have seen the rise of Larry the Plumber Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, NASCAR, and a Vice-President choice of Sarah Palin. (The choice of Palin was a vain attempt to draw upon a class that is increasingly becoming isolated as it becomes smaller.)

In the 1993 movie “Falling Down” Michael Douglas played a typical “white guy” stereotype who raged against racial stereotypes and the fading of white America as he knew it. He says, when confronted by the police, “I’m the bad guy?” His is a frustration we can all identify with. [[A new take on this theme is “Gran Torino,” in which racial stereotypes are depicted and then thrashed.]]

[[Interestingly, in the movie “8 Mile” we see a white rapper, Eminen, working against the stereotype that only a black can be a rapper. Eminen finally shows how hip-hop/rap is not really about race, but about culture. Yes, the two can be separately identified.]]

[[In doing so, Eminen points toward a new direction that America is taking, which is many young people cutting across racial lines to establish social connections. Marketers less and less try to market to their “core group” (read that as “white consumers”) and try to market to specific cultural groups: skateboarders, cyclists, “green” consumers, and the like.]]

[[Barack Obama knew that he needed to overcome the objections of white people who, other than for their oft-submerged animus against blacks, would support him. The poor economy gave him a lever to use to pry these voters from their racially fixed position and to move them to consider their economic, best interests.]]

Having said that, we do see a segment of white people who are circling their wagons in an attempt to preserve all that they feel is good, right, and “white” about America. This group has its home in a belt from Arkansas, through the south, and into West Virginia and southern Virginia. Clearly, the last election shows that this group is becoming smaller.

[[The numbers show what is going on…how you feel about it and what you do about it is your choice.]]

Mike Sledge

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