Richard Alba

Richard Alba is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the recent co-author of Strangers No More: Immigration and the Challenges of Integration in North America and Western Europe

 

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The Census Bureau needs to look at race in a more accurate and nuanced way. 

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
This is a contribution to Prospect Debate: The Illusion of a Minority-Majority America . I am grateful for these commentaries, which expand on critical aspects of my article . Frank Bean rightly observes that the Census Bureau’s statistical system imposes a foolhardy binary logic—an individual American must be a member of the non-Hispanic white majority or belong to the minority population. This logic is increasingly at odds with the complexity of family backgrounds and obscures a major new demographic phenomenon: the rapid rise in the number of children growing up in mixed (especially white and minority) families. Moreover, in appearing to posit a minority population as a counterweight to the current white majority, the Census also encourages many Americans to overlook fundamental differences in societal position and historical experience among those classified as minorities. As Bean notes, the singularity of the African-American experience is lost in a category so diverse as to...