The news that white people will no longer be the majority in America by the year 2050 has been out for some time now. But as we inch closer to the day when people of color will be the physical majority (I'm not too optimistic about institutional power), and the inevitable CNN scare graphics and Fox News on-air aneurisms that are sure to occur, the question that some are asking is: How are white people going to handle this?
(Not me because lol I don't care and the majority of people on Earth are non-white.)
In a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers at UCLA found that the more aware white people are of this imminent flip in the script, the more they start sounding like Sarah Palin pullstring dolls.
Researchers Felix Danbold and Yuen J. Huo showed their subjects two graphs. One graph projected that the US population of white and nonwhite citizens will rise at equal rates between now and 2050, meaning that white people would remain the majority. The other graph, which better reflects what is actually going to happen, showed the non-white population surpassing the white population.
They then asked the participates questions about diversity and American values. Via New York magazine:
The respondents were then asked how much they agreed with a series of statements about diversity — stuff like "One of the goals of our country should be to teach people from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds how to live and work together." Sure enough, white people who were shown the more realistic graph were less likely to agree with these statements, as well as more likely to agree with statements along the lines of "Compared to today, 50 years from now the values and beliefs of the typical American will be different from the values and beliefs of people like me" (researchers call this a "prototypicality threat" — the notion that your version of what it means to be an American is being threatened).
So, basically they all sounded like the average Fox News viewer.
As NY Mag notes, of course this is in no way representative of any huge percentage of white Americans. However, it is very similar to the rhetoric we hear, mostly from entitled white men who have no clue how to function without being afforded privilege in almost every possible way, when a person of color or woman gains some sort of advantage or power.
I particularly love when people worry about a change in "American values" like all of our values are so damn peachy in the first place. We are a nation that was founded on theft, murder and slavery. We value the ability to purchase guns at Wal-Mart more than protecting first graders from being gunned down at schools. Women, in the year 2014, earn less than men for doing the same work. We actively look for ways to justify the murders of unarmed black people and women continue to be kept from making medical decisions about their own bodies. We would probably do well to rethink some of those values in the future.
Image via Universal Studios.