Abstract

Contemporary nonwhite immigration from Latin America and Asia, increasing racial/ethnic intermarriage, and the growing number of multiracial individuals has made the black-white color line now seem anachronistic in America, consequently raising the question of whether today's color line is evolving in new directions toward either a white-nonwhite divide, a black-nonblack divide, or a new tri-racial hierarchy. In order to gauge the placement of today's color line, we examine patterns of multiracial identification, using both quantitative data on multiracial reporting in the 2000 U.S. Census and in-depth interview data from multiracial individuals with Asian, Latino or black backgrounds. These bodies of evidence suggest that the multiracial identifications of Asians and Latinos (behaviorally and self-perceptually) show much less social distance from whites than from blacks, signaling the likely emergence of a black-nonblack divide that continues to separate blacks from other groups, including new nonwhite immigrants. However, given that the construction of whiteness as a category has been fluid in the past and appears to be stretching yet again, it is also possible that the color line will change still further to even more fully incorporate Asians and Latinos as white, which would mean that the historical black-white divide could again re-emerge.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-7605
Print ISSN
0037-7732
Pages
pp. 561-586
Launched on MUSE
2008-02-11
Open Access
No
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