Monday, March 21, 2011

Multiracial Growth and the Deep South

Mixed-Race Growth in Mississippi Signals Shift in Attitudes:

In the first comprehensive accounting of multiracial Americans since statistics were first collected about them in 2000, reporting from the 2010 census, made public in recent days, shows that the nation’s mixed-race population is growing far more quickly than many demographers had estimated, particularly in the South and parts of the Midwest. That conclusion is based on the bureau’s analysis of 42 states; the data from the remaining eight states will be released this week.

In North Carolina, the mixed-race population doubled. In Georgia, it expanded by more than 80 percent, and by nearly as much in Kentucky and Tennessee. In Indiana, Iowa and South Dakota, the multiracial population increased by about 70 percent.

“Anything over 50 percent is impressive,” said William H. Frey, a sociologist and demographer at the Brookings Institution. “The fact that even states like Mississippi were able to see a large explosion of residents identifying as both black and white tells us something that people would not have predicted 10 or 20 years ago.”

Particularly in the south. But one wonders, how much of the multiracial numbers are children and how much is self-identification among older persons?

The share of the multiracial population under the age of 18 in Mississippi is higher than its share of youth in the general population, suggesting that much of the growth in the mixed-race group can be explained by recent births. But in Mississippi and in other states, some growth may also be a result of older Americans who once identified themselves as black or some other single race expanding the way they think about their identity.

“The reality is that there has been a long history of black and white relationships — they just weren’t public,” said Prof. Matthew Snipp, a demographer in the sociology department at Stanford University. Speaking about the mixed-race offspring of some of those relationships, he added: “People have had an entire decade to think about this since it was first a choice in 2000. Some of these figures are not so much changes as corrections. In a sense, they’re rendering a more accurate portrait of their racial heritage that in the past would have been suppressed.”

And while the number of persons self-identifying mixed racial or ethnic heritage has been increasing, interracial marriage still seems a rarity.
About 8 percent of U.S. marriages are mixed-race, up from 7 percent in 2000.
Meaning, there is still a societal stubbornness towards sanctioning an interracial or inter-ethnic relationship via matrimony, whether a child is part of the picture or not. While it's true that marriage rates among all segments have been declining, there still seems to be resistance to interracial marriage in many sectors of society.

Overall, it seems as if the importance of race and ethnicity continues to decline among younger generations, but we are nowhere near the "post-racial" world vaunted by members of Big Media following Obama's election two years ago.

If you don't believe me, just read this post: "In post racial America, Prisons Feast on Young Black Girls."

The notion that we are "past race mattering" is ludicrous.


Rachel said...

What you wrote only talked about people identifying as both black & white. Were there stats mentioned on multiracial people identifying as races other than black & white or as 3+ races?

Todd Krohn said...

Rachel, that's a good question. The American Community Survey they link only seems to have the black and white data. Not sure if the Census has released data regarding other races, but I would check there first.