Via PostBourgie is U.C. Irvine professor Jennifer Lee discussing the "color line" as it moves and shifts in response to the demographic changes of the last few decades:
Traditionally, the "color line" has been a simple divide between black and white, with Latinos falling on the side of "black" in most cases. But as Lee points out, this is shifting to black/non-black, as the U.S. sees a growing population of Asians and Latinos and higher rates of interracial marriage.
Of course, this doesn't apply to all Asians and all Latinos; because of their skin color, Afro-Brazillians -- for instance -- are most likely to be thought of as black, despite the fact that they might identify differently. What's more, as Lee notes, where you fall on the continuum will have a lot to do with your socioeconomic status, so that less prosperous Asian groups -- like Cambodians and Vietnamese -- might be lumped in on the black side of the divide. Still, as I've noted before, "whiteness" is a very fluid category, with Latinos and Asians gradually entering the category of "potential white people."
-- Jamelle Bouie