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Immigration & the Color Line at the Beginning of the 21st Century

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Abstract

The "color line" has long served as a metaphor fo r the starkness of black/white relations in the United States. Yet post-1965 increases in U.S. immigration have brought millions whose ethnoracial status seems neither black nor white, boosting ethnoracial diversity and potentially changing the color line. After reviewing past and current conceptualizations of America's racial divide(s), we ask what recent trends in intermarriage and multiracial identi1/2cation-both indicators of ethnoracial boundary dissolution-reveal about ethnoracial color lines in today's immigrant America. We note that rises in intermarriage and multiracial identi1/2cation have emerged more strongly among Asians and Latinos than blacks and in more diverse metropolitan areas. Moreover, these tendencies are larger than would be expected based solely on shifts in the relative sizes of ethnoracial groups, suggesting that immigration-generated diversity is associated with cultural change that is dissolving ethnoracial barriers-but more so fo r immigrant groups than blacks.

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... research showing a link between this kind of ethnoracial diversity and improvements in majority attitudes toward minorities would suggest an improving climate in the country for nonwhites. In fact, studies do observe rising numbers of intermarriages (between spouses from different ethnoracial categories as defined above) and growing numbers of offspring from such marriages, which increase the number of people with multiracial parentage (Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013). The degree to which people from such backgrounds see themselves in multiracial terms, of course, is a matter of self-perception and, thus, one that may vary substantially by ethnoracial category. ...
... But this tendency went away when studies took into account the impact of prejudicial attitudes toward blacks on social cohesion. Because white Americans perceive a greater threat from and exhibit more prejudice toward blacks than toward other ethnoracial groups, whites living in areas with both large and immigrant and large black populations often report less social cohesion, thereby diminishing the boost in social cohesion that accompanies the diversity resulting from immigration (Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013;Abascal and Baldassarri 2015). ...
... Higher levels of intermarriage have also occurred in tandem with growing multiracial populations. For instance, 5.3 percent of all children aged 0 to 17 were identified as multiracial in 2010, compared to only 1.1 percent of persons aged 55 or older (Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013). For whites, this figure was 6.4 percent, for blacks 14.6 percent, and for Asians 27.9 percent (comparable figures for Latinos are impossible to derive because census data do not recognize mixed Latino/non-Latino origins). ...
Article
Solving problems of race relations in the United States requires avoiding binary ethnoracial classifications and understanding the nature, extent, and consequences of today’s diversity resulting from immigration. Recent demographic change has involved not only growth in the size of the nonwhite U.S. population but also increases in the number of new ethnoracial groups. Modest socioeconomic improvements have recently occurred among most nonwhite groups, and the rise in the number of different groups has led to some positive changes (i.e., boosting intermarriage and multiracial identification, blurring color lines among ethnoracial groups, and fostering creativity and economic growth) without diminishing social cohesion and solidarity. However, the benefits of multigroup diversity appear not to have reached many Americans who have less felt the social and economic benefits of free trade, globalization, and immigration. This underscores the need for universal policies that transcend identity- and grievance-based politics and provide security and benefits for all Americans.
... Higher levels of intermarriage have also occurred in tandem with growing multiracial populations. For instance, 5.3 percent of all children aged 0-17 were identified as multi-racial in 2010, compared to only 1.1 percent of persons aged 55 or more (Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013). For whites, this figure was 6.4 percent, for blacks 14.6 percent, and for Asians 27.9 percent (comparable figures for Latinos are impossible to derive because Latinos report various racial origins [Ruggles et al. 2010]). ...
... The dataset comparison may also be affected by differences in data quality. In a series of studies, Angel de la Fuente and Rafael Doménech (2006, 2013, 2015 have examined the quality of different global reconstructions of educational attainment in the context of cross-country growth regressions. They evaluated the information content of educational attainment data using reliability ratios (the ratio of signal to signal plus noise), finding in a subsample of OECD economies that the older version of the Barro-Lee dataset performed worse than alternative sources of educational attainment data. ...
... Central to developing answers will be whether trends in intermarriage, cultural assimilation to whiteness, new identity malleabilities, and potential status uplift signal certain mixed minority-whites-or even members of now-conventional categories altogether (e.g. Asians, Hispanics)-stand to become encompassed within a redistricted whiteness (Alba, 2020;Bean et al., 2013;Gallagher, 2004;Gans ,2012;Lee & Bean, 2004Warren and Twine, 1997;Zhou, 2004) in the same vein as Euro-ethnics (e.g. Jews, Italians, Irish) were in the post-World War II period (Alba, 1985;Barrett & Roediger, 1997;Brodkin, 1998;Ignatiev, 1995). ...
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From the nation's first non‐white President, to prevalent narratives of demographic change, a surging reactionary Right and emerging social awareness of white identity, the social context in which white Americans relate to whiteness and white privilege has changed since the early 1990s foundations of whiteness studies. In this article we review work on white Americans and whiteness generally to grapple with their (dis)positions within, and provide a roadmap for sense‐making through, recent cultural and racial‐political developments. We begin with an overview of now canonical critical‐theoretical scholarship, set in the context of other (more limited) empirical work about specific white American subgroups. We highlight how these related, frequently overlapping, though certainly non‐synonymous tracks of inquiry into whiteness and white Americans have since evolved, emphasizing that iterative exchange between them may best situate potentially different, cross‐cutting orientations toward whiteness and privilege held by various contemporary American whites. We then focus our discussion on several socio‐historical developments that will have significant, if somewhat uncertain implications for the reproduction, possible transformation, and study of white America in coming years. Specifically, we detail literatures surrounding recent questions upon the shapes of the white color line, contemporary white nationalisms, and prospects for white antiracism.
... This study is not intended to be representative of the broader U.S. population, but it does speak to possible patterns in the future of U.S. ethnoracial relations. According to the literature on theories that predict the trajectory of U.S. ethnoracial relations, three wellknown theories are the "White versus non-White divide", the "Black versus non-Black divide", and the Latin Americanization thesis (Bean et al., 2013;Bonilla-Silva 2004). The results from the full models speak the most to the Latin Americanization thesis, which theorizes that the future of U.S. ethnoracial relations will follow a triracial system comprised of "White", "Honorary White", and "Collective Black" (Bonilla-Silva 2004). ...
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Friendships between members of different ethnoracial groups can help to reduce prejudice and ease tensions across ethnoracial groups. A large body of literature has explored possible determinants for the formation of these friendships. One unexplored factor is the role of an individual’s skin color in influencing their opportunities to befriend members of other ethnoracial groups. This study seeks to answer two questions: For ethnoracial minorities, how is an individual’s skin color associated with the likelihood that they will engage in a cross-ethnoracial friendship? Does the role of skin color depend on the ethnoracial combination of the two groups that befriend one another? Using waves 1, 2, and 3 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen and a series of multinomial logit models, the results suggest that the role of skin color is a function of the relative levels of social status of the two ethnoracial groups that befriend one another. I argue that lighter-skinned members of lower status ethnoracial groups have a greater likelihood of having close friendships with members of higher status ethnoracial groups. There is also limited evidence that darker-skinned members of a higher status group, specifically Asians, have a greater likelihood of having close friends from a lower status group.
... This widening of African American versus White and other non-White inequality provides a sobering corrective to the widely heralded crime decline. It also is strikingly consistent with claims that a Black-non-Black divide structures the contemporary United States (e.g., Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013). ...
Article
Stark ethno-racial differences in reported neighborhood crime are a major facet of contemporary U.S. inequality. However, the most generalizable research on neighborhood inequality in crime across cities is only for 2000. Many of the underpinnings of crime have changed since 2000—increases in socioeconomic segregation, the Great Recession and attendant housing crisis, the continuation of the crime decline, shifting trends in incarceration and other types of social control, and small decreases in racial residential segregation. We provide a much-needed assessment of whether ethno-racial reported neighborhood crime disparities have increased, remained stable, or decreased in the contemporary period. We invoke a racial structural perspective that traces ethno-racial disparities in neighborhood crime to the divergent community conditions emblematic of the U.S. racial hierarchy. Using newly collected data for 8,557 neighborhoods in 71 large U.S. cities for 2010–2013, we demonstrate that violent and property crime is lower in White, African American, Latino, minority, and multiethnic neighborhoods than in 2000. However, smaller relative decreases in African American neighborhoods widened the relative crime gap from other ethno-racial communities. Supporting the racial structural perspective, large ethno-racial inequalities in neighborhood well-being account for most of the crime gaps, with disadvantage and residential lending being most important. This suggests that non-White neighborhoods need economic investments to reduce the harmful and inequitable consequences of neighborhood crime.
... Many discussions of immigrant political incorporation begin by focusing on race and ethnicity (Hochschild et al. 2013). In the U.S. case, this seems appropriate, given that most of the migration to the United States in the last halfcentury has been non-European (Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013). Such discussions tend to veer toward either the optimistic or pessimistic, depending on whether they take as their model the successful integration of the descen-dants of European immigrants of the early twentieth century or the lingering socioeconomic disadvantage of African Americans in the long wake of slavery and in the subsequent injustices of Jim Crow laws (Warner and Srole 1945;Gordon 1964;Jaynes and Williams 1989;Bean and Bell-Rose 1999;Alba and Nee 2003;Holzer 2009). ...
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This paper invokes a membership-exclusion theoretical model of immigrant integration to investigate political incorporation. Specifically, we examine the extent to which unauthorized migration status is associated with general and particular political knowledge and with other kinds of structural incorporation. In the analyses, we use data from the initial wave of the 2012 Latino Immigrant National Election Study (LINES) targeting adult immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. Consistent with theoretical expectations, we find that unauthorized Latino immigrants have significantly lower levels of general political knowledge than green card holders, those with other government IDs, or naturalized citizens, and that the difference between the unauthorized and the legal groups holds up when controls are introduced for exposure (quantity and quality of time in the country) and various kinds of structural incorporation, although differences among the legal groups do not. Thus, forms of structural integration mediate the effects of exposure on acquisition of general political knowledge by legal immigrants, but they do not for unauthorized immigrants, providing evidence that membership exclusion severely restricts political incorporation. At the same time, unauthorized immigrants show more awareness about changes in the unemployment rate than legal immigrants do, a result consistent both with their main reason for migration (to work) and with their having recourse only to collective action as a form of political expression.
... 4. Racialized populations are racial/ethnic populations perceived as nonwhite in the United States. As concerns immigrant groups viewed as racialized, this primarily refers to Hispanic/Latinos and Asians (Bean, Lee, and Bachmeier 2013;Martin and Duignan 2003;Massey and Pren 2012;Ngai 2004;Rumbaut 2009;Tichenor 2002). 5. Throughout the rest of this article, the term "white population" indicates non-Hispanic whites. 6. ...
Article
The Great Recession of late 2007 through 2009 had profound negative economic impacts on the U.S. states, with 49 states experiencing revenue decreases in their 2009 budgets representing more than $67.2 billion USD. Also during this period, states enacted a record number of laws related to immigrants residing in their states. We make use of data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to examine punitive immigration policy enactment from 2005 to 2012 and conduct a state comparative study using cross-sectional time-series analysis to examine the potential ways in which the economic recession and changing demographics in the states have impacted punitive state immigration policy making. We hypothesize that although anti-immigrant anxieties are driven in part by economic insecurity, they are also impacted by the presence of a large or growing proportion of racialized immigrants. We find that increases in state Hispanic populations and state economic stressors associated with the recession have both led to a greater number of enacted punitive state immigration policies. In addition, we find that changes in the non-Hispanic white populations in the states are also impacting the expression of anti-immigrant attitudes in state policy during this period.
... Rapidly increasing patterns of migration have caused a growth in the number of immigrants worldwide [1][2]. In Spain, almost 12% of the population is made up of foreigners from outside the European Union [3]. ...
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Background This study compares the health-related quality of life of Spanish-born and Latin American-born individuals settled in Spain. Socio-demographic and psychosocial factors associated with health-related quality of life are analyzed. Methods A cross-sectional Primary Health Care multi center-based study of Latin American-born (n = 691) and Spanish-born (n = 903) outpatients from 15 Primary Health Care Centers (Madrid, Spain). The Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) was used to assess health-related quality of life. Socio-demographic, psychosocial, and specific migration data were also collected. Results Compared to Spanish-born participants, Latin American-born participants reported higher health-related quality of life in the physical functioning and vitality dimensions. Across the entire sample, Latin American-born participants, younger participants, men and those with high social support reported significantly higher levels of physical health. Men with higher social support and a higher income reported significantly higher mental health. When stratified by gender, data show that for men physical health was only positively associated with younger age. For women, in addition to age, social support and marital status were significantly related. Both men and women with higher social support and income had significantly better mental health. Finally, for immigrants, the physical and mental health components of health-related quality of life were not found to be significantly associated with any of the pre-migration factors or conditions of migration. Only the variable “exposure to political violence” was significantly associated with the mental health component (p =0.014). Conclusions The key factors to understanding HRQoL among Latin American-born immigrants settled in Spain are age, sex and social support. Therefore, strategies to maintain optimal health outcomes in these immigrant communities should include public policies on social inclusion in the host society and focus on improving social support networks in order to foster and maintain the health and HRQoL of this group.
... In Spain, immigration has doubled since the second half of the nineties, resulting in a new socio-political reality with consequent associated social and health challenges [1,2]. Currently, Spain's population has grown to more than 46 million people, and almost 12% (17% in Madrid) of this growth is accounted for by immigration, not including illegal immigration by foreign-born residents [3]. ...
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Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has painted with broad strokes a portrait of the future of racial relations in the United States in his paper entitled, “We are all Americans: Toward a New System of Racial Stratification in the U.S.A.” [Race and Society (forthcoming)]. In essence, he sees the United States moving from a two-tier, black-white racial system toward a three-tier racial system where persons will be categorized as “white”, “honorary white”, or “collective black”. Additionally, Bonilla-Silva believes that we are moving from a system in which race is commonly taken into account, toward a system of “color-blind” racism. In this article, we closely examine Bonilla-Silva’s ideas, and although we appreciate the broad scale of his work and its challenge to traditional race relations, we make adjustments to his work, particularly concerning the location of Latinos in the U.S. racial hierarchy, which lead both to a better understanding of the current and future racial situation in the United States, and toward policy recommendations which could ameliorate the bleak situation in which we find ourselves concerning life chances of people of color.
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The focus of media depictions of Barack Obama as a “post-racial,” “post-black” or “postethnic” candidate is usually limited to two aspects of his presidential campaign. First is his self-presentation with minimal references to his color. Unlike Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, whose presidential candidacies were more directed at the significance of the color line, Obama has never offered himself as the candidate of a particular ethnoracial group. Second, the press calls attention to the willingness of millions of white voters to respond to Obama. Some of his greatest margins in primary elections and caucuses were in heavily white states like Idaho and Montana. He even won huge numbers of white voters in some states of the old Confederacy, and in the November election carried Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. But there is much more to it. The Obama candidacy was a far-reaching challenge to identity politics, and that challenge will only deepen now that Obama will be President. At the center of that challenge is a gradually spreading uncertainty about the significance of color lines, especially the significance of blackness itself. Blackness is the pivotal concept in the intellectual and administrative apparatus used in the United States for dealing with ethnoracial distinctions. Doubts about its basic meaning, boundaries, and social role affected ideas about whiteness, and all other color-coded identities. These uncertainties make it easier to contemplate a possible future in which the ethnoracial categories central to identity politics would be more matters of choice than ascription; in which mobilization by ethnoracial groups would be more a strategic option than a presumed destiny attendant upon mere membership in a group; and in which economic inequalities would be confronted head-on, instead of through the medium of ethnorace. To denote that possible future, I prefer the term “postethnic” to “post-racial.” The former recognizes that at issue is all identity by natal community, including as experienced by, or ascribed to, population groups to whom the problematic term “race” is rarely applied. The reconceptualization affects the status of Latinos and other immigrant-based populations not generally counted as “races.” A postethnic social order would encourage individuals to devote as much—or as little—of their energies as they wished to their community of descent, and would discourage public and private agencies from implicitly telling citizens that the most important thing about them was their descent community. Hence to be postethnic is not to be anti-ethnic, or even colorblind, but to reject the idea that descent is destiny. Obama’s mixed ancestry generates some of the new uncertainty about blackness. The white part of his genetic inheritance is not socially hidden, as it often is for “light-skinned blacks” who descend from black women sexually exploited by white slaveholders and other white males. Rather, Obama’s white ancestry is right there in the open, visible in the form of the white woman who, as a single mother, raised Obama after his black father left the family to return to his native Kenya. Press accounts of Obama’s life, as well as Obama’s own autobiographical writings, render Obama’s whiteness hard to miss. No public figure, not even Tiger Woods, has done as much as Obama to make Americans of every education level and social surrounding aware of color-mixing in general and that most of the “black” population of the United States, in particular, are partially white. The “one-drop rule” which denies that color is a two-way street is far from dead, but not since the era of its legal and social consolidation in the early 1920s has the ordinance of this rule been so subject to challenge. But even more important to the new instability in the meaning of blackness in American life is the fact that Obama’s black ancestry is immigrant rather than U.S.-born. The knowledge that Obama’s black father came to the United States from Kenya may have done more than anything else to make Americans in general aware of the distinction within the black population of the United States between those who, like Obama’s wife, Michelle, are the descendants of men and women who were...
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In this article, we examine how immigrants from eastern Africa to the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area understand and navigate the U.S. color line and its implications for nonwhites. Although these immigrants are subject to constraints based on their racial status as black, they mobilize other intersecting aspects of their identities to manipulate racial classifications in the hopes of attaining upward mobility in the United States, even when doing so creates other social costs for them. Eastern African immigrants draw on their ethnicity and, among Muslim immigrants, their religion to differentiate themselves from African Americans, who occupy the lowest position in the U.S. racial hierarchy. In challenging their categorization as racially black and seeking to move up the racial hierarchy, Eastern African immigrants refine the color line to distinguish between African-American blacks and non-African-American blacks.
Article
"Is the contemporary second generation on the road to the upward mobility and assimilation that in retrospect characterized the second generation of earlier immigrations? Or are the American economic context and the racial origins of today's immigration likely to result in a much less favorable future for the contemporary second generation? While several recent papers have argued for the latter position, we suspect they are too pessimistic. We briefly review the second generation upward mobility in the past and then turn to the crucial comparisons between past and present."