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

1
Destabilizing the American Racial Order

There are many … variables that are not matters of degree. And it is these
variables that define what it means to be black in America…. Police do not
stop whites for “driving while black,” but police do stop blacks, particularly
wealthy blacks, for this offense…. Thus, it would be wiser to regard “driving
while black” and being black not as two variables but, instead, as part of the
same condition. It is this second type of variable that forces one to conclude
that by definition blacks and whites do not occupy the same social space.
—Samuel Lucas

Does race exist? Of course it does. We see it every day. Guy steals a purse, the
cop asks, What did he look like? You say, He was a six-foot-tall black guy, or
a five-and-a-half-foot-tall Asian man, or a white guy with long red hair….
We hold these vague blueprints of race in our heads because, as primates, one
of the great tools of consciousness we possess is the ability to observe
patterns in nature. It’s no surprise that we’d train this talent on ourselves.
—Jack Hitt

It is possible that, by 2050, today’s racial and ethnic categories will no longer
be in use.

Migration News, 2004

MANY AMERICANS, LIKE the first two people quoted above, believe that we must recognize, and should perhaps celebrate, clear differences among racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Even if race is “merely” a social construct with no biological basis, it has a huge impact on the quality and trajectory of individual lives and on American society and politics more generally. Whether group boundaries are intended to include or exclude, everyone apparently knows where to draw the lines and what the lines imply.

But group boundaries that seem fixed, even self-evident, at a given moment are surprisingly unstable across a period of years. A Harvard anthropologist’s 1939 textbook titled The Races of Europe showed eighteen races spread across the continent. In an elaborately overlapping swarm of lines and hashmarks, Carleton Coon showed how the “Partially Mongoloid,” “Lappish,” “Brünn strain, Tronder etc., unreduced, only partly brachycephalized,” “Pleistocene Mediterranean Survivor,” “Neo-Danubian,” Nordic, and (separately) Noric, and a dozen other groups were distributed among those whom we now designate as “White.”1

-3-

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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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