According to Census data, about 50% of Latinos identify themselves as white. How one identifies themselves is shaped by tons of factors both personal and social. This is why some first generation, de-indianized immigrants check off 'white' in the Census when they get the chance. Claiming white was a step closer to being a real American, even if in reality your brown skin and almond eyes signaled non-white and thus non "American."
This is all changing according to The Atlantic's "The End of White America?" by Hua Hsu. In the article Hsu looks at how white is and will be perceived in this new era of Obama-landia. He is very good at identifing the 'real' America of McCain/Palin, who love their NASCAR and how they are a shrinking population; the white America that is reacting in blogs such as Stuff White People Like and how they suffer for being white and need to beat us to the punch line about their idiosyncracies; and mentions how studying whitness in universities is signaling a fear of what it really means to be white in a world that is more and more non-white and the result is whites hating being white. Hip Hop is given a lot of credit for helping to create this world where non-whites can move on up. Diversity and multi-culturalism is examined as well in the usual form of how will we sell junk to people who are not white.
My initial reaction to the article was that it was good, but ofcourse typical in maintaining the black / white paradgimn of looking at the world. Hsu does good research but misses the fact that Latinos have been the majority in 7 of the 10 biggest US cities since the last Census. Those numbers will have increased and will continue to change the US more than hip hop and a black looking but white by culture president. The fear, debates, distribution of resources and legislation that often punishes Latinos are at the center of what is America today. Since 9/11 Brown has been the new Black.
Perceptions of what an American is will change. Hsu wrote how advertising companies herded consumers to the middle, which was white. And that was as we know wrong. What are they now proposing? Will the new center be some 'beige' non identifiable, mestizo, with more whiter features than blacker or browner features? Will that be accurate? As manufactured as the fading white mainstream, will the new multi culti mainstream be as manufactured and false? Will it leave out the jalape~o, the chicharones and banda music? Will Latinos still check off 'white' when white is a minority?
I have little hope. Just turn your t.v. to a Spanish language station. The faces are all white despite having vast Indian and mestizo majorities in all those countries. Obama may be the first step, but we got hundreds of years of slavery and mind f*&^s to get over bending over for whitey.
(for another review of this article go here, thanks Roker)