The Simple Question Raised By A More Diverse America

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his food writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast. Subscribe to Andrew's Heard Tell SubStack for free here:

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80 Responses

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    The changes in racial and ethnic distribution appear to be driven more by changes in self-identification than by real demographic changes.

    If you look here, you can see that there’s been a huge increase in the number of people identifying as multiracial or “some other race.” Hispanics, in particular, were 53% less likely to identify as “white alone” in 2020 than in 2010 and several times more likely to identify as multiracial.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      To be clear, real demographic change is still happening, but far more slowly than is implied by a naive interpretation of the statistics.Report

    • Motoconomist in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      This would imply that folks, particularly Hispanic, are now identifying more consistent with the definitions used by Census. So better data, we were more pluralistic in the past than data showed.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Motoconomist says:

        It also shows how much of that diversification comes from (for lack of a better term) interbreeding. Kids care less what race their partner is, and the shrinking of the world, and concentration of the population into urban and suburban areas means kids are not in racially homogeneous areas.
        So that melting pot isn’t just getting stirred, it’s gone into the blender.Report

  2. Jennifer Worrel says:

    People also need to consider their desire for a robust economy or future ability to draw from government programs like Social Security when they think about this question.

    The US economy depends on a large and growing labor pool.

    People not comfortable with diversity (and immigration), better get comfortable with the idea that their prejudices are economically harmful.Report

    • The US economy depends on a large and growing labor pool.

      Or steadily increasing productivity increases on labor’s part, with the wage gains reflecting that subject to SS payroll taxes. Statistically, the only numbers the actuaries/economists got wrong in 1983 when SS financing was last redone was their assumption that productivity gains would be spread across all income classes — as had been the case since WWII — rather than mostly being captured by high-income workers.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Recently I toured a factory that produces modular buildings. It was a marvel of technology, with a heavily automated process using robotics and sosftware driven CAD/CAM machines, which ultimately produced a prodigious amount of stuff, but used hardly any people.

        The tour organizer was very proudly telling us about how the head of the company used his billion dollar fortune (raised from a family business) to purchase whatever machinery he needed to build the enterprise.

        All well and good but an example of how automation is, not the future, but the present of our economy and how automation returns its rewards to the owners of capital rather than labor.Report

      • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Michael Cain says:

        The world still needs people to make sandwiches, or clean hotel rooms, or harvest vegetables. I don’t know how we can (could?) assume that productivity gains should have happened at the lower-valued skill level without also expecting inflation to occur.

        I’m very much a free market for all things including labor type person. That is coupled with an understanding that diversity through immigration and higher birth rates among the populations that contribute skills at a lower value is going to happen.

        I just think it’s interesting to ask people who are lamenting immigrants or negatively comment on how the racial makeup of their communities is changing how they feel about social security.

        (And please don’t misunderstand this as wholesale support for social security. I just think coupling the topics in conversation yields interesting responses).Report

        • An alternative approach… In 1983, the salary cap for SS payroll taxes was set so that on the near order of 90% of earned income was subject to the tax. That has slowly but steadily declined in the almost 40 years since then. We could adjust the salary cap so that 90% of earned income was subject to the tax again. Myself, I think that would have been a whole lot safer and smarter decision in 1983, but Congress took the Greenspan Commission’s (yes, that Greenspan) word that productivity gains would be shared.

          Chip’s point also stands, that the rich will tend to find ways to make their income look like returns to capital. Look at the carried interest scam hedge fund managers have set up.Report

          • Slade the Leveller in reply to Michael Cain says:

            Just eliminate the cap.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

              And increase the payout formulas.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

              “Just eliminate the cap” is not a reasonable proposal. This is an enormous tax increase, and the current income tax rates are set with the payroll tax cap in mind.

              I’m all for eliminating the cap, if only to get people who don’t understand how taxes work to stop chanting “regressive” as if it were a coherent argument, but income tax rates would have to be adjusted to bring the total tax wedge down to a reasonable level.

              Maybe we should just drop the pretense and fold payroll taxes into the income tax, but I haven’t thought through all the effects this would have.Report

  3. Motoconomist says:

    To add, immigrants are 80% more likely than native born to start a business.

    That’s… really important for economic growthReport

  4. Michael Cain says:

    Regular readers know my fascination with the Great Plains region, half a million square miles spread over 362 counties in ten states. In the 2020 census the population increased somewhat, for the first time since 1930. Excluding Texas, the total population continued to shrink. Growth in Texas was due to the DFW suburbs spilling farther out, West Texas and Panhandle counties with energy industries (wind, oil and gas), and Lubbock. Average population density over the entire region increased to 10.3 people per square mile. Nine additional counties had their population density fall below the 7.0 people per square mile that is the traditional definition of “frontier”, increasing the total number of frontier counties to 231.

    Somewhere here I have a paper that predicts a substantial number of refugees from sea level rise along US coasts are going to settle in the Great Plains hinterlands. One of these days I have to dig into that to see why anyone thinks an increasingly arid Great Plains is going to attract population.Report

  5. Chip Daniels says:

    It has occurred to me how much the success of an enterprise- a family, a business, a social group, or a nation- depends on its participants getting along and being able to cooperate in mutual trust and goodwill.

    And how much of this requires a continuing process of self-reflection and difficult listening and criticism which almost always spurs a defensive reaction.Report

  6. Marchmaine says:

    Heh, diversity is culturally constructed. Which is to say, we’ve done an interesting philological-pas-de-deux: 1) We created a new American Narrative in which being ‘American’ was White; 2) Being White is to be a White-Supremacist; 3) We’ve added a Narrative where things that aren’t races count as Diversity and give you cover for Not-being-a-White-Supremacist; 4) We’ve freighted things that have nothing to do with Diversity into ‘not-being-a-White-Supremacist’ 6) We’ve organized this into political factions.

    We’ve seen worse/dumber Political Ideologies, so I won’t say it won’t work… but I strongly suspect it won’t last.

    We’re not really embracing “Diversity” we’re embracing a new narrative of what being American is … it’s a pretty radical form of conformity… it might be better in some ways, it’s definitely worse in many. But diverse it isn’t.

    So, to participate in the new scare-quotes-diversity we dust off family lore and classify ourselves in the most advantageous way in the new Narrative. If you’re still ‘white’ there’s always 23-and-me; if tragically white, there’s immigrant roots; after that, there’s nothing left but becoming a facilitator. Unless you’re Asian.

    NYT: Behind the Surprising Jump in Multiracial Americans, Several Theories
    Economist: Why more Americans are self-identifying as multiracial
    538: What Makes Someone Identify As Multiracial?

    We’re really grinding up these identities into a new Narrative that some think is ‘inclusive’ but my above-the-fray observation is that it is purely instrumental and not in any way diverse. A diversity of fear. It’s not legitimate and it won’t tolerate actual diversity. It will end badly.

    Happy MLK day:
    “If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”

    “The Purpose of Education” from Morehouse College student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, 1947Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

      Good news! According to the last census, the Native American population increased by 86.5%!

      As a white-passing Native American, I think that it’s great that more of us are coming out of the proverbial closet.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

        The “I’m part Cherokee” story that has always existed in American literature and self-imaging is interesting for the various ways in which it has been interpreted. There’s nothing new in the phenomenon, just in the way in which we allocate cache and to what we attach the value. And hey, lots of people are part Cherokee.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird says:

        Not enrolled members, if I read correctlyReport

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

      1) We created a new American Narrative in which being ‘American’ was White;
      Hasn’t this always been so? Like, since 1619?

      2) Being White is to be a White-Supremacist;
      Again, this is a simple historical fact, that non-whites were only grudgingly accepted and even then conditionally and with provisions.

      3) We’ve added a Narrative where things that aren’t races count as Diversity and give you cover for Not-being-a-White-Supremacist;
      Assuming you’re talking about gender or orientation, this seems to be a requirement of the very word, “diversity”. Otherwise the word would be “Racial Inclusion” or somesuch.

      4) We’ve freighted things that have nothing to do with Diversity into ‘not-being-a-White-Supremacist’
      Its not clear to me what this means.

      5) We’ve organized this into political factions.

      Who is the “we” in this sentence?
      When this statement gets analyzed in the context of American history, it becomes clear that the statement sweeps up both MLK and the KKK, both the advocates for equality and its opponents into mere political factions. Not advocates for justice versus advocates for injustice, but merely players in a game, morally indistinguishable.

      To exaggerate only slightly, it reads like “I, with my above-the-fray viewpoint, criticize both MLK and the man who murdered him as political actors advancing a Narrative.”Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        As soon as I see something that looks like Justice, I might be interested.

        But do continue to build your false narrative of justice by side-swiping people with the KKK.Report

        • JS in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Is there any reason you felt unable to respond to his points? 1 and 2 are, bluntly, pretty obviously correct from basically any perspective on America’s past that is more in-depth than “The Native Americans taught the Pilgrims to grow corn”.

          Instead of answering you just insulted him and played the victim. That’s…telling.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to JS says:

            Being White is to be a White Supremacist is pretty obviously correct?

            As a white-passing Native American, I don’t think that that’s true at all.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to JS says:

            “We created a new American Narrative in which being ‘American’ was White;
            Hasn’t this always been so? Like, since 1619?”

            If that has been the case since 1619, it’s not a new Narrative, it’s the old one.

            “Being White is to be a White-Supremacist;”

            Change that to “Being White was to be a White-Supremacist”, and you’d have a better leg to stand on, depending on how far back you went, but you can no longer make that general of a statement without redefining what it means to be a white supremacist to a point of meaninglessness.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Marchmaine says:

      I think your analysis is fairly accurate, but isn’t this kind of thinking largely done? We’re at least past the high-water mark. I think the covid years have greatly reduced people’s inclination to do stupid things because they’re expected, or at least to clearly announce that they’re going along with something but it’s stupid. Celebrities, comedians, politicians, and content producers have all been more willing to call out the nonsense, and seem to be able to weather the storm. You still have an occasional Patton Oswalt, but there’s minimal cost in pointing out that he’s on the wrong side. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I just don’t see the coercion working much longer. The late adopters (large companies, teachers’ unions, dinosaur media, et cetera) aren’t there yet, but that’s to be expected.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Pinky says:

        I don’t think anything in ‘thinking’ or ‘politics’ is ever done… setbacks release new lines of thinking and politics. We’re seeing some of this with increasing Latino Multi-racial identification nudging towards the R’s – which is very counter-intuitive, but illustrative of the fact that ideas like ‘Diversity’ aren’t constrained by gate-keepers, no matter how they try.

        The ‘Diversity’ story could be adapted in many ways by different factions… some of which I think will be compelling rather than coercive… but also possibly not.Report

    • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

      All of this. If I had to sum up the philosophy it would be ‘what if we really leaned in to the one-drop rule, but this time we did it for righteous reasons?’

      Nevermind questions of if there is ever a righteous reason much less whether the facts of ancestry, especially in the new world, align. We can just make it up as we go along. Now excuse me, I have an appointment at the MVA to change my last name to El Bombero.Report

    • The alt-right drove diversity as well. It’s now canon that I and my fellow (((globalists))) are no longer white.Report

  7. Chip Daniels says:

    I think it is telling how the idea that we are all guilty of sinfullness like greed and selfishness and cruelty is just accepted without question, but the idea that we all, as individuals and as a nation, are guilty of racism and bigotry is what gets the loudest yelps of protest, even from those who are ostensibly liberal.Report

    • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      And in the absence of priests to whom they could confess their sins they retained a DEI contractor.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “We as individuals and as a nation have been racist.”
      “Okay. Sure.”
      “Therefore we should follow my policy preferences.”
      “Your yelps of protest have been noted.”Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird says:

        I would ask both Jaybird and InMD where should we begin? Is saying never again enough, or do we go further?Report

        • InMD in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

          I would submit the following:

          -de jure racial discrimination has been illegal for almost 70 years.

          -nearly all private sector racial discrimination has been illegal for almost 60 years.

          -huge swathes of public sector, NPO, and fortune 500 level corporations engage in varying levels of de facto wink wink, nudge nudge race-based affirmative action.

          -Measurable attitudes towards race (things like intermarriage for example) have never been better. Our creators of arts and culture are champions in this regard and have been for decades.

          -Most disparate impact and and racial group inequality statistical analysis paint a pretty complex picture, certainly way too complex to support the reductive conclusions put forth by the particular form of politics under discussion.

          All of this is to say, I reject in whole the idea that all we have done is say ‘never again.’ We have done a lot more. I now say we should be focused on the socio-economic. Use existing laws to redress racism where appropriate and as needed. Otherwise as long as the floor and quality of life is getting better and better for regular people of whatever race I don’t think the rest is particularly material.Report

        • Where should we begin?

          If the implication is that we haven’t even started, I’m not sure we’re looking at the same stuff.

          Now, I *DO* think that there is more ground that needs to be covered, but it’s mostly class-based rather than race-based. Tackling class stuff will help the lower classes and the races that compose them a heck of a lot better than performative anti-racism.Report

          • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird says:

            Perhaps class based solutions are the way to go, but I’m getting a strong Pontius Pilate vibe coming off both of these comments. It can be true at the same time that you, or I, or InMD are not racists, and that there are racist policies and practices (widespread) in this country. Declaring they don’t exist doesn’t make the problem go away. If someone tells me there is a problem, and then outlines how that problem impacts his/her life, I’m going to grant the benefit of the doubt.Report

            • I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist and that there aren’t racist policies.

              But let’s say that we wanted to fix, oh, racist policing. I would recommend revamping QI rather than, say, defunding the police.

              If I wanted to fix, oh, racist education policies, I would probably put more emphasis on stuff like trade schools than college debt forgiveness.

              I am more than happy enough to agree that we as individuals and as a nation have been racist.

              But that doesn’t mean that I need to agree with your policies.Report

            • InMD in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

              Maybe I misread you. Your question implied that you believe nothing has been done about racism in this country. I then responded with a list of things that have been done in the post war era. These are not made up things, nor are they small things, and I would say are pretty evident, well documented changes in law and culture. Like, do you believe Brown v. Board (and many other decisions), the Civil Rights Act, the huge federal and state bureaucracies that enforce laws against illegal discrimination, etc. don’t exist? Do you believe that cultural attitudes are the same as they were when there were anti-miscegenation laws and interactions of any kind between the races were taboo? And that’s really just the beginning.

              You’re now saying I’m washing my hands and/or pretending racism doesn’t exist. I have no idea how you could reach that conclusion from what I wrote.

              Now I’m not telling you how to respond to someone who tells you racism has impacted his or her life. That’s a personal thing, and I’m all for empathy.
              But I will say that the premise of the question I replied to, i.e. nothing has been done to address racism in this country, is so false that it cannot possibly inform a useful conversation about the world we live in today. There’s also no benefit to pretending a bunch of obviously wrong things are true, and I see no reason why anyone should. If anything I’d say it’s profoundly unserious and shows an infinitely greater disregard for the issues of race in America than anything I’ve said. Because that’s what I hear when people say that everyone needs to mouth broad pieties about but won’t get into the details.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to InMD says:

                No, I never meant that nothing has been done. No one who’s paid attention to current affairs for the past 70 years could think that, as you rightly point out. My question remains is it enough? To me, at least, the answer is quite obvious.Report

              • InMD in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

                Fair enough. I try to be an open minded person and readily concede that reasonable people can disagree on this stuff. I just don’t really buy the ‘if only we all felt a little more guilty’ thing as a useful approach.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to InMD says:

                Definitely not! I suspect we agree on whole lot more than we disagree about here.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      You shifted something between the first idea and the second. There’s a difference between all being guilty and being guilty as individuals and a nation, it seems to me. If I said that all humans are racist and everyone who belongs to my country club is human, that has a different implication than saying that everyone in my country club as individuals and as a country club is guilty of racism.

      I’m also not confident that the majority of black liberals would say that they’re guilty of racism.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

        How is it possible to have flawed individuals construct a flawless structure?

        Half of the Old Testament prophets and Gospels is the idea that thru individual sinfullness, the entire nation of Israel was behaving in an unjust manner.

        Its not a coincidence that MLK used the vocabulary and rhetorical style of an Old Testament prophet in calling America to account for failing to live out its mission.

        In a sense, we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

        This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

        It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          All we have to do is put the perfect people in charge of things and then we’re golden.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            This is an all-purpose, and therefore meaningless objection.

            “Crime is up!”
            “All we have to do is put the perfect people in charge of things and then we’re golden.”

            “Inflation is rising!”
            “All we have to do is put the perfect people in charge of things and then we’re golden.”


        • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Are you asking whether flawed people can create perfect blueprints for a house or whether we can build a perfect house? I’m willing to concede that you and I, if we were building a house, would make some mistakes. Frames wouldn’t be at exactly 90 degrees. It could be sturdy enough to keep from falling over, even if we ourselves are flawed and sometimes prone to falling over. But it could topple, sure, because we’re flawed.

          But we could design something that wouldn’t be biased toward falling over in any particular direction.

          When you say that our nation is racist, do you mean that our blueprints are racist or our realization of those designs is racist? I hardly think either is true, but I could grant that the latter can happen. Maybe some government statistician is so overwhelmed by his hatred of black people that he changes some numbers. But my initial point was that a statement “we’re all racist” has a different implication than the statement “we all and our nation are racist”. It seems to me that our nation was designed to be race-neutral and we’ve been moving piece by piece toward achieving that. Some of those pieces were hard-fought, and some took longer than they should have. But the blueprint is good.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          That the status quo cannot possibly be flawless is not evidence that it’s currently flawed in a way that would be improved by implementing policy changes inspired by your personal ideology.

          Note that “How is it possible to have flawed individuals construct a flawless structure?” is a fully general argument. It makes just as strong an argument for socialism as it does for laissez-faire capitalism, just as strong an argument for theocracy as for secular humanism, and just as strong an argument for a return to Jim Crow as for implementing the ideas of Ibram X. Kendi.Report

  8. Douglas Hayden says:

    Ah yes, our national holiday where we take the words of a dead man to turn him into everything from Cliff Huxtable to Bobby Rush.

    But to answer Andrew’s question, yes, yes, I certainly am.Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    I think Michael Cain is onto something with his comment. The history of the United States in many ways or all ways still revolves around the badges and incidents of slavery and its aftermath. This includes a lot of “model minority” stuff that you see hoisted on various groups. Jews were the model minority for a time and now it seems to be Asian-Americans. Hell, I have even seen recent immigrants from Africa get it compared to native-born black Americans who might have been here longer than some current right-wingers families. A lot of discussion in America on race and ethnicity seems to involve taking not white people and then eventually putting them into the white or white enough category. Anything to still have a category of other largely for black people who are the descendants of former slaves.

    It is also increasingly clear that a good chunk of Americans do not want to live in an increasingly diverse United States and have no interest in multiracial democracy. Something snapped with the election of Obama twice where a lot of people just stated “okay enough is enough.” I still think the Trump decided to run for President when Obama burned him at the White House Correspondence Dinner. Even if the worst case scenarios for 2022 and 2024 do not pan out, I think we will be living with Trump’s first term for a long long time.Report

    • Heresy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      You are missing the point.
      White people put black folks into a “white guilt” category.
      Hispanics put black folks into a “murder” category.
      (See the streets of California. Extermination is the game).
      This is borne out by empirical polling.
      Diversity is our strength? Well, fine.
      But own that genocide you vote for.Report

  10. Cleveland says:

    Diversity is our strength.
    Shut up, if you think otherwise.
    Shut up, if you want to talk about the predictable consequences of diversity.
    Shut up, if you want to talk about polls, or beliefs, or the changing situation of people.
    Shut up, if you think that a black citizen has more right to a good living than a hispanic non-citizen smuggling drugs across the border.

    Seriously, folks. if you’re in favor of diversity, you are in favor of the increasing impoverishment of African Americans (yes, you can also be in favor of things to counteract this. Obviously). You are also in favor of quite a few other things, that are predictable consequences of “diversity.”Report

  11. Chip Daniels says:

    Judging from the new comments showing up, we must have got a hit on Gab or Gettr or Grindr or whatever the kids like Ben Shapiro are using nowadays.Report