Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics, and the Young Can Remake Race in America

By Jennifer Hochschild; Vesla Weaver et al. | Go to book overview

able as a consequence of new multiracial identities, immigrants’ rejection of conventional American categories, and genomic science. Social relations, particularly among young Americans, are less driven by stereotypes, more fluid and fragmented, and more susceptible to creation rather than acquiescence. Even deeply seated hierarchies of income, educational attainment and achievement, prestige, and political power are easing for some groups and in some dimensions of life. Race or ethnicity, though still important, is less likely to predict a young person’s life chances than at any previous point in American history; today’s young adults will move through adulthood with the knowledge that one need not be White in order to become the most powerful person in the world.

These and other changes are best organized and understood through analysis of four powerful transformative forces. Immigration, as it has done throughout American history, is changing the raw materials of the racial order as well as the mixture and positioning of those materials. Multiracialism is changing our almost century-long convictions that a person belongs to one and only one race and that one’s race is fixed at birth and remains static. Genomic science is reopening the old question of whether race has a biological component at the same time that it offers the possibility of dissolving race into individual profiles and transforming the criminal justice system. For young adults, marches, riots, and grape boycotts are what they study in history books; their collective memories include the New Orleans’ Superdome in 2005, the immigrant rights march in 2006, and Barack Obama’s Grant Park speech in 2008. Because, we predict, the cohort of young adults will retain this new set of views and perspectives, young adults are the preeminent transformative force. They disproportionately comprise and engage with immigrants, they are most likely to identify as multiracial, they will be most affected by genomic innovations, and they have the broadest set of life chances. They may create a new American racial order.

Thus the late twentieth-century racial order captures less and less of the way in which race and ethnicity are practiced in the United States today and may be practiced in the foreseeable future. If transformative forces persist and prevail, the United States can finally move toward becoming the society that James Madison envisioned in Federalist #10, one in which no majority faction, not even native-born European Americans, dominates the political, economic, or social arena.

The Madisonian vision must not blind us to two concerns. If it persists, creation of a new racial order will not have only beneficial results. Some Americans are likely to be harmed by these changes and will thereby suffer relative or even absolute losses. Continuing the venerable American pattern, they will be disproportionately African American or Native American, supplemented by undocumented immigrants. All Americans

-xiv-

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Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics, and the Young Can Remake Race in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures and Tables xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - The Argument 1
  • 1 - Destabilizing the American Racial Order 3
  • Part II - Creating a New Order 19
  • 2 - Immigration 21
  • 3 - Multiracialism 56
  • 4 - Genomics 83
  • 5 - Cohort Change 113
  • 6 - Blockages to Racial Transformation 139
  • Part III - Possibilities 165
  • 7 - The Future of the American Racial Order 167
  • Notes 183
  • References 213
  • Index 255
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