Academic journal article Policy Review

The Monochrome Society

Academic journal article Policy Review

The Monochrome Society

Article excerpt

VARIOUS DEMOGRAPHERS and other social scientists have been predicting for years that the end of the white majority in the United States is near, and that there will be a majority of minorities. CNN broadcast a special program on the forthcoming majority of people of color in America. President Clinton called attention to this shift in an address at the University of California, San Diego on a renewed national dialogue about race relations. His argument was that such a dialogue is especially needed as a preparation for the forthcoming end of the white majority, to occur somewhere in the middle of the next century. In his 2000 state of the union address, Clinton claimed that "within 10 years there will be no majority race in our largest state, California. In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race in America. In a more interconnected world, this diversity can be our greatest strength." White House staffer Sylvia Mathews provided the figures as 53 percent white and 47 percent a mixture of oth er ethnic groups by 2050. Pointing to such figures, Clinton asked rhetorically if we should not act now to avoid America's division into "separate, unequal and isolated" camps.

Some have reacted to the expected demise of the white majority with alarm or distress. In The Disuniting of America (1992) Arthur Schlesinger Jr. decries the "cult of ethnicity" that has undermined the concept of Americans as "one people." He writes, "Watching ethnic conflict tear one nation after another apart, one cannot look with complacency at proposals to divide the United States into distinct and immutable ethnic and racial communities, each taught to cherish its own apartness from the rest." He also criticizes the "diversity" agenda and multiculturalism, arguing that "the United States has to set a monocultural example in a world rent by savage ethnic conflict; the United States must demonstrate 'how a highly differentiated society holds itself together.'"

Dale Maharidge, a professor and journalist who has conducted hundreds of interviews concerning race, class, and ethnicity in California, has devoted a book to The Coming White Minority: California's Eruptions and America's Future (1996). He reported that sometime between its publication and 2000, California's population would be less than 50 percent white. As he writes, "'Minorities' will be in the majority," a precursor to the 2050 state of racial composition nationwide, when "the nation will be almost half nonwhite."

Maharidge comments that his interviews, observations, and research have shown that, especially in California,

whites are scared. The depth of white fear is underestimated and misunderstood by progressive thinkers and the media. Whites dread the unknown and not-so-distant tomorrow when a statistical turning point will be reached that could have very bad consequences for them. They fear the change that seems to be transforming their state into something different from the rest of the United States. They fear losing not only their jobs but also their culture. Some feel that California will become a version of South Africa, in which whites will lose power when minorities are the majority.

Whites in California have demonstrated their fear of the "browning" of America by forming residential "'islands' that are surrounded by vast ethnic or transitional communities, as well as deserts, mountain wilderness, and the ocean," demonstrating, Maharidge predicts, "what the rest of America might become." Whites and nonwhites alike also passed the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which Maharidge links to these same fears about the end of the white majority. Maharidge warns,

California's electoral discord has emanated from whites. There is ample evidence that white tension could escalate. What will California be like in 2010, when nonwhites make up 60 percent of the population? . . . And how will California's actions influence the rest of the nation as non-Hispanic whites fall from 76 percent of the U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.