Culture---Race and ancestry

Race and ethnicity in the United States is a complex topic because the United States of America has a racially and ethnically diverse population. At the federal level, race and ethnicity have been categorized separately.The most recent United States Census officially recognized five racial categories (White American, Black or African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander) as well as people of two or more races.The Census Bureau also classified respondents as "Hispanic or Latino" or "Not Hispanic or Latino", identifying Hispanic and Latino as an ethnicity (not a race), which comprises the largest minority group in the nation.The United States Supreme Court unanimously held that "race" is not limited to Census designations on the "race question" but extends to all ethnicities, and thus can include Jewish, Arab, Italian, Hungarian, Laotian, Zulu, etc.The Census also asked an "Ancestry Question," which covers the broader notion of ethnicity, in the 2000 Census long form and the American Community Survey; the question will return in the 2020 Census.


As of July 2016, White Americans are the racial majority. Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority, comprising an estimated 18% of the population. African Americans are the second largest racial minority, comprising an estimated 13.4% of the population.The White, non-Hispanic or Latino population make up 61% of the nation's total, with the total White population (including White Hispanics and Latinos) being 77%.White Americans are the majority in every census-defined region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West) and in every state except Hawaii, but contribute the highest proportion of the population in the Midwestern United States, at 85% per the Population Estimates Program (PEP)or 83% per the American Community Survey (ACS).verification needed] Non-Hispanic Whites make up 79% of the Midwest's population, the highest ratio of any region. However, 35% of White Americans (whether all White Americans or non-Hispanic/Latino only) live in the South, the most of any region.


Currently, 55% of the African American population lives in the South.[4] A plurality or majority of the other official groups reside in the West. The latter region is home to 42% of Hispanic and Latino Americans, 46% of Asian Americans, 48% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 68% of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, 37% of the "two or more races" population (Multiracial Americans), and 46% of those self-designated as "some other race".The five inhabited U.S. territories are ethnically diverse while each is fairly homogeneous – American Samoa has a high percentage of Pacific Islanders, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are mostly Asian and Pacific Islander, Puerto Rico is mostly Hispanic/Latino, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is mostly African-American.

In the United States since its early history, Native Americans, Africans and Europeans were considered to belong to different races. For nearly three centuries, the criteria for membership in these groups were similar, comprising a person's appearance, their social circle (how they lived), and known nonwhite ancestry (the single drop rule). History played a part, as persons with known slave ancestors were assumed to be African (or, in later usage, black), regardless of whether they also had European ancestry.


The differences between how Native American and Black identities are defined today (blood quantum versus one-drop and political assumptions) have been based on different historical circumstances. According to the anthropologist Gerald Sider, such racial designations were a means to concentrate power, wealth, privilege and land in the hands of Whites in a society of White hegemony and privilege (Sider 1996; see also Fields 1990). The differences had little to do with biology and more to do with the history of slavery and its racism, and specific forms of White supremacy (the social, geopolitical and economic agendas of dominant Whites vis-à-vis subordinate Blacks and Native Americans). They related especially to the different social places which Blacks and Amerindians occupied in White-dominated 19th-century America. Sider suggests that the blood quantum definition of Native American identity enabled mixed-race Whites to acquire Amerindian lands during the allotment process. The one-drop rule of Black identity, enforced legally in the early 20th century, enabled Whites to preserve their agricultural labor force in the South. The contrast emerged because, as peoples transported far from their land and kinship ties on another continent, they became reduced to valuable commodities as agricultural laborers. In contrast, Amerindian labor was more difficult to control; moreover, Amerindians occupied large territories that became valuable as agricultural lands, especially with the invention of new technologies such as railroads. Sider thinks the blood quantum definition enhanced White acquisition of Amerindian lands in a doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which subjected Native Americans to marginalization and resulted in numerous conflicts related to American expansionism.

The United States is a racially diverse country. The growth of the Hispanic population through immigration and high birth rates is noted as a partial factor for the US' population gains in the last quarter-century. The 2000 census revealed that Native Americans had reached their highest documented population, 4.5 million, since the US was founded in 1776. 

The immigrants to the New World came largely from widely separated regions of the Old World. In the Americas, the immigrant populations began to mix among themselves and with the indigenous inhabitants of the continents. In the United States, for example, most people who identify as African American have some European ancestors, as revealed by genetic studies. In one analysis of those genetic markers that have differing frequencies between continents, European ancestry ranged from an estimated 7% for a sample of Jamaicans to ~ 23 % for a sample of African Americans from New Orleans, where there was historically a large class of mixed-race people (Parra et al. 1998).In the United States since its early history, Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans were classified as belonging to different races. For nearly three centuries, the criteria among whites for membership in these groups were similar, comprising physical appearance, assumption of non-European ancestry, and social circle. The criteria for membership in these races diverged in the late 19th century. During and after Reconstruction, after the emancipation of slaves after the Civil War, in the effort to restore white supremacy in the South, whites began to classify anyone with "one drop" of "black blood", or known African ancestry, to be black. Such a legal definition was not put into law until the early 20th century in most southern states, but many established racial segregation of facilities during the Jim Crow era, after white Democrats regained control of state legislatures in the South. Efforts to track mixing between groups led to an earlier proliferation of historical categories (such as "mulatto" and "octaroon" among persons with partial African descent) and "blood quantum" distinctions, which became increasingly untethered from self-reported ancestry. In the 20th century, efforts to classify the increasingly mixed population of the United States into discrete categories generated many difficulties (Spickard 1992). By the standards used in past censuses, many mixed-race children born in the United States were classified as of a different race than one of their biological parents. In addition, a person may change personal racial identification over time because of cultural aspects, and self-ascribed race can differ from the assigned race (Kressin et al. 2003).Until the 2000 census, Latinos were required to identify as one race, and none was Latino. Partly as a result of the confusion generated by the distinction, 33% (U.S. census records) of Latino respondents in the 2000 census ignored the specified racial categories and checked "some other race". (Mays et al. 2003 claim a figure of 42%.)

White and European Americans are the majority of people living in the United States. White people are defined by the United States Census Bureau as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa."[33] Like all official U.S. racial categories, "White" has a "not Hispanic or Latino" and a "Hispanic or Latino" component, the latter consisting mostly of White Mexican Americans and White Cuban Americans.As of 2019, White Americans are the majority in 49 of the 50 states (plus Puerto Rico) — White Americans are not a majority in Hawaii, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.As of 2019, non-Hispanic whites are a majority in 44 states — they are not a majority in California, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.(See Majority minority).In 2017, Demographer Dudley L. Poston Jr. argued that "Whites are now the numerical minority in a half dozen states, and they will be the nation's numerical minority in a little more than 25 years (referring to non-Hispanic whites only). And now, for the first time ever, there are fewer white than nonwhite children under 10 years of age.