It’s not due to a sudden surge of non-white births, or increasing immigration. In fact, Mexican-Americans are starting to move back home to Mexico in larger numbers.
The drop in white Americans will be due to what the Census considers “white.”
In the past, “white” was the only racial option available to Arab-American respondents, a classification that didn’t truly reflect their social standing and hurt efforts for their political empowerment in post-Sept. 11 America, said Samer Khalaf, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
“If you are going to classify me as white, then treat (me) as white,” Khalaf said. “Especially when I go to the airport. So yeah, it’s inaccurate.”
For years, many U.S. Latinos also checked the “white” box because options were limited, said Lorenzo Cano, associate director of the Center of Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. But many Latinos are now opting to check “American Indian” to identify with their links to indigenous populations in Latin America.
Overall, “these changes could reduce the number of people who identify as white,” Cano said.
The proposed changes are not set in stone, though. We hope the changes do happen.
A substantial number of American Latinos have long been flummoxed by the mandate that they identify as white on the Census forms. Adding some granularity, if that is the right word, to Census race identification, could give a clearer view of who makes up America, and allow Americans to more accurately say who they identify as.