Friday, June 19, 2015

It's not good to be king

A naif might think that the putative benefits provided by white privilege and membership in the patriarchy, combined with the Potato Heading of the West, would see non-whites and women running from their oppressed statuses to enjoy the benefits that naturally accrue to white men.

Curiously, the contemporary high profile cases of race and sex changes involve whites 'becoming' non-whites (Dolezal) and men 'becoming' women (FauxcahontasJenner). These don't appear to be exceptions to prove the rule, either. There has been a pronounced flight from white evident in the US Census over the last several decades, and people from ancestries conventionally considered to be white, such as Middle Easterners and North Africans, are pushing for the creation of non-white categories to self-identify themselves as.

In 2004, the GSS asked respondents to choose from ten descriptors to answer the question "which is most important to you in describing who you are?" Respondents were also asked to select the second and third most important descriptors from the same list. Race/ethnicity was one of the options. The following table shows the percentages of respondents, by race, who identified race/ethnicity as the most important, second most important, or third most important aspects of how they identify themselves (n = 1,185):

RespondentR/E important
Hispanic42.1%
Black38.8%
Asian35.5%
White10.4%

Another option among the ten provided was gender. The percentages of respondents, by sex, who identified gender as the most important, second most important, or third most important aspects of how they identify themselves (n = 1,201):

RespondentGender important
Female32.1%
Male23.9%

Quite the conundrum. It's almost as if being white and being male, rather than conferring tacit benefits upon a person, actually has a deleterious effect on one's social status and perceived moral worth.

Parenthetically, these data are over a decade old. I suspect the white and male identification deficits are even greater now than they were then.

GSS variables used: SOCID1(2)(3), SOCID2(2)(3), SOCID3(2)(3), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), SEX

2 comments:

silly girl said...



"people from ancestries conventionally considered to be white, such as Middle Easterners and North Africans, are pushing for the creation of non-white categories to self-identify themselves as."

Yeah, they are just following the money.

ironrailsironweights said...

As much as I deplore the Flight from White, I have to admit there is some logic behind the creation of the new MENA category. Not that I support it, to be sure. Islam is a complicating factor when it comes to racially classifying people from that part of the world. While it's not a race, there's a popular perception (the "browning effect of Islam") that Muslims aren't white.

Traditionally, most people from the Middle East in the United States were non-Muslim, especially Armenians and Lebanese Christians. Today there are more Muslims, and to further complicate matters they usually are darker than the Lebanese or Armenians. Adding the MENA category, which of course is not a done deal, would to some extent be giving official acknowledgment to what's already a common perception, namely that Arabs aren't white.

Peter