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I came across the term, “majority_minority nation” and as a mathematician was confused.  You can’t be both a majority and a minority at the same time!  Joel Best drives home that definitions matter in the social construction of statistics, but the definition of majority and minority seems beyond ambiguity, the majority is the largest group and smaller groups are minorities.  The featured graphic from the Census Bureau offers a more nuanced definition of “majority-minority” as the point when over 50% of Americans are minorities.  The title offers another twist: “Non-Hispanic Whites May No Longer Comprise Over 50% of the U.S. Population,” with the note stating that “minority” is defined as any group other than non-Hispanic whites.  The implication being that non-Hispanic Whites are the majority by definition!

The article, Overhyped Media Narratives About America’s Fading White Majority Fuel Anxiety, does a nice job tackling the implications of divisive rhetoric surrounding this issue.  In particular, if we allow more flexible multi-racial identities in defining “white” then we see the majority_minority point disappearing into the distant future.

maj_min exclusive_vs_inc

A study that randomly assigned stories on this issue to be read by white people had startling differences in generating hopefulness or anxiety, depending on on whether the story emphasized diversity, the inclusive definition, or the exclusive definition.

maj_min emotion

Diversity had a polarizing effect, making Republicans anxious and Democrats hopeful; whereas the inclusive definition made both groups more hopeful.  This gives me hope.

Q4 Majority-Minority

  1. In the article, Overhyped Media Anxiety About America’s Fading White Majority Fuels Anxiety, they reference the “Majority-Minority” and include a link to this graphic.
    1. How is “minority” defined?
    2. What is meant by the term “majority-minority”?
  2. Joel Best talks about problematic definitions.
    1. Using an exclusive definition of “white” what would be a false negative?
    2. Which is a narrow definition of white: inclusive or exclusive?
  3. In Table 1 which group sees the largest percentage change (not total change in ppts) from exclusive to inclusive?
  4. Joel Best talks about the “dark figure” associated to every social problem and statistic.  What is a dark figure associated to the Census population count.


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