Will We Ever Be “Majority-Minority”?

Despite the fact that the Census predicts that the white majority in the US will be gone by 2043, Jamelle Bouie expresses skepticism that we’ll ever really be “a country where most Americans have nonwhite heritage”:

The fastest growing group of Americans—by far—fall under the “multiracial category.” If past research is any indication, these Americans are likely the product of intermarriage betweens whites and Hispanics (the most common interracial pairing) or whites and Asians (the next most common one). While we identify them as nonwhite, we don’t know how they’ll identify themselves in the future. My hunch is that—as (certain groups of) Latinos and Asians integrate themselves into American life—a good number will identify themselves as white, with Hispanic or Asian heritage, in the same way that many white Americans point to their Irish or Italian backgrounds. …

While there’s no doubt the United States will become a place where people of Asian and Hispanic heritage are common, that’s not the same as saying it will become a “majority-minority” country. Given our history, and continued assimilation, intermarriage, and upward mobility among Latino and Asian Americans as a whole, there’s a good chance the United States will remain a “white” country, where “white” includes people of Hispanic and Asian heritage.

However, Josh Marshall argues that, with the white vote getting smaller, inciting racial panic has become less and less politically effective:

Let’s just talk about the 1990s or really any other time up to the last few years. It’s not that any of this stuff is new. It’s that until pretty recently we had this stuff and on balance it was successful. That’s the key. And now, though it’s a very close run thing, it tends not to be successful. And by successful I mean in a purely electoral sense. Does it get you more votes than it loses you. And at a certain level that’s all that matters.

Republicans invested heavily in voter suppression for the 2012 cycle. And while it is very important to note that a big reason why it didn’t ‘work’ was that courts struck down a lot of the most egregious laws (and huge kudos to the myriad civil rights and voting rights lawyers who made that possible), it also didn’t work because the attempt itself massively energized the growing non-white electorate. So every time a little Mexican-American kid dares to sing the national anthem at a basketball game wearing a mariachi suit and freaks start telling him on Twitter to go back to Mexico, it’s gross and it’s a bummer, but you also realize that it’s probably marginalizing the white racist freakshow vote more than it’s empowering it.