The Source - June 10, 2014
11:41 am
Tue June 10, 2014

The Source: What Is White?

Irish people along with Italians were once thought of as inferior whites. This Thomas Nast image, entitled The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things and published in Harpers in 1871, depicts anti-Irish sentiments that were common at that time.

According to a presentation at the Population Association of America, and reported by the Pew Research Center, 1.2 million Latinos who identified as some other race in 2000 identified as white in 2010.

The finding came with an update on how millions of Americans changed how they identified their race and identity in the newest census and the Latino figure is raising some eyebrows, but should it?

The history of white in America is undoubtedly about more than the color of a persons skin. Seen as a white or black issue at the census, the racial make up and social constructs are more fluid -- or grey -- than most people believe.

The New York Times and Slate both published articles looking at how Hispanics may be joining the white mainstream, expanding the definition to include them as it did Irish and Italian peoples generations ago. But as Nate Cohn at The New York Times wrote, had "Hispanic" been available as a racial option, rather than White, Black or Some Other Race on the census, they may have picked that. 

Guests:

  • Nell Irvin Painter, historian, professor emeritus at Princeton and author of "The History of White People"
  • Harriet Romo, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and director of the UTSA Mexico Center, co-author of the textbook "Racial and Ethnic Relations in America"

*This is the first segment in the June 10 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM. Audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

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