Great article from Sunday’s frontpage. Yes, Sunday. We’ve been busier than you can possibly fathom. Excerpt below (along with embedded chart). Click photo or text linke for full piece. Enjoy…
From left: Shannon Palmer, Japanese/Irish; Vasco Mateus, Portuguese/African-American/Haitian; Laura Wood, black/white.More Photos »
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In another time or place, the game of “What Are You?” that was played one night last fall at the University of Maryland might have been mean, or menacing: Laura Wood’s peers were picking apart her every feature in an effort to guess her race.
“How many mixtures do you have?” one young man asked above the chatter of about 50 students. With her tan skin and curly brown hair, Ms. Wood’s ancestry could have spanned the globe.
“I’m mixed with two things,” she said politely.
“Are you mulatto?” asked Paul Skym, another student, using a word once tinged with shame that is enjoying a comeback in some young circles. When Ms. Wood confirmed that she is indeed black and white, Mr. Skym, who is Asian and white, boasted, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” in affirmation of their mutual mixed lineage.
Then the group of friends — formally, the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association — erupted into laughter and cheers, a routine show of their mixed-race pride.
The crop of students moving through college right now includes the largest group of mixed-race people ever to come of age in the United States, and they are only the vanguard: the country is in the midst of a demographic shift driven by immigration and intermarriage.
One in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to data from 2008 and 2009 that was analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Multiracial and multiethnic Americans (usually grouped together as “mixed race”) are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups. And experts expect the racial results of the 2010 census, which will start to be released next month, to show the trend continuing or accelerating.
Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity. Ask Michelle López-Mullins, a 20-year-old junior and the president of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, how she marks her race on forms like the census, and she says, “It depends on the day, and it depends on the options.”
They are also using the strength in their growing numbers to affirm roots that were once portrayed as tragic or pitiable.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said Ms. Wood, the 19-year-old vice president of the group. “If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.”
No one knows quite how the growth of the multiracial population will change the country. Optimists say the blending of the races is a step toward transcending race, to a place where America is free of bigotry, prejudice and programs like affirmative action.
Pessimists say that a more powerful multiracial movement will lead to more stratification and come at the expense of the number and influence of other minority groups, particularly African-Americans.
And some sociologists say that grouping all multiracial people together glosses over differences in circumstances between someone who is, say, black and Latino, and someone who is Asian and white. (Among interracial couples, white-Asian pairings tend to be better educated and have higher incomes, according to Reynolds Farley, a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan.)
Along those lines, it is telling that the rates of intermarriage are lowest between blacks and whites, indicative of the enduring economic and social distance between them.
Prof. Rainier Spencer, director of the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the author of “Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix,” says he believes that there is too much “emotional investment” in the notion of multiracialism as a panacea for the nation’s age-old divisions. “The mixed-race identity is not a transcendence of race, it’s a new tribe,” he said. “A new Balkanization of race.”
But for many of the University of Maryland students, that is not the point. They are asserting their freedom to identify as they choose.
“All society is trying to tear you apart and make you pick a side,” Ms. Wood said.
Who Is Marrying Whom
Nearly 9 percent of all marriages in the United States in 2009 were interracial or interethnic, more than double the percentage in 1980. The rates of intermarriage vary widely depending on gender, race or ethnicity. Gender differences are most pronounced among blacks and Asians. Black men marry someone from a different group twice as often as black women do, while among Asians, the gender pattern is reversed. Over all, black Hispanics and American Indians have the highest rates of intermarriage. For Asians and white Hispanics, the rates of intermarriage have remained static or decreased.
Great Piece/Chart Series from The Atlantic.
What a Difference 2 Years Makes.
Officially, the Great Recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. A mere 18 months- about average, as recessions go. Yet if the trauma this time feels deep and lasting, that may be because, as the figures on these pages show, so many disruptions have upened national life at once.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, nearly every state faces a budget shortfall, and hundreds of banks have shut their doors. The young are unemployed, living at home, and playing video games. The ranks of thrid party candidates have swolen, militias have proliferated, and national leaders of both parties have seen their support decline. Of course, times of flux are often times of anxiety and unrest. But as the economy begins its slow and stuttering recovery, the vast changes wrought by this recession will continue to reverberate for many years- in ways predictable and otherwise.