Assignment: Centrality of Racial Status
Because census practices have often mirrored the cen- trality of racial status in the country, by examining how the census has mea- sured race throughout its history we gain an enlightened perspective about the changing nature of America’s color line.
In chapter 4, we use analyses of census data to chart the recent growth of racial and ethnic groups in the United States and to assess the extent to which recent changes are due to contemporary immigration.
Looking at trends in immigration, we show how newcomers from Latin America and Asia are changing the racial and ethnic terrain of the country, making some cities and states extraordinarily diverse. By more “diverse” we mean areas where larger and greater numbers of racial and ethnic minority groups come to constitute larger proportions of state or metropolitan-area populations. We illustrate which parts of the country have been most affected by the rapidly expanding new racial and ethnic diversity, and also show how this diversity represents a departure from the traditional diversity of black and white.
In chapter 5 we attempt to assess cultural shifts by documenting recent trends in intermarriage and examining their significance by means of in-depth interview data from interracial couples. More specifically, we examine how inter- racial couples construct definitions of racial status, how their understanding of racial categories affects whom they consider suitable marriage partners, and whether they believe that intermarriage facilitates incorporation. Although social scientists agree that intermarriage is an indicator of incorporation, they
The Diversity Paradox
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have not fully examined whether the incorporative power of intermarriage works similarly across groups.
In chapter 6 we examine how interracial couples choose to identify their children and how their choices in turn affect patterns of incorporation. Historically, the legacy of the “one-drop rule” of hypodescent has determined the racial identification of children born to black-white unions.
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