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White people

White people (also the Caucasian race) is a term usually referring to human beings characterized (at least in part) by the light pigmentation of their skin. Rather than being a straightforward description of skin color, the term white denotes a specific set of ethnic groups and functions as a color metaphor for race.

The most commonly-used definition of "white person" is "a person with a visible degree of European ancestry".[1] However, the definition of "white person" differs according to geographical and historical context. Various social constructions of whiteness have had implications in terms of national identity, consanguinity, public policy, religion, population statistics, racial segregation, affirmative action, eugenics, racial marginalization and racial quotas. The concept has been applied with varying degrees of formality and internal consistency in disciplines including sociology, politics, genetics, biology, medicine, biomedicine, language, culture and law.

Contents


History of the term

The notion of "white people" or a "white race" as a large group of populations contrasting with non-white or "colored" originates in the 17th century. Pragmatic description of populations as "white" in reference to their skin color predates this notion and is found in Greco-Roman ethnography and other ancient sources.

Antiquity and Middle Ages: Occasional physical description

Cushites]], and the THEMEHU are the fair-skinned Libyans" (chapter VI, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1905).

In the literature of the Ancient Near East and Classical Antiquity, descriptions of the physical aspect of various nations in terms of color is commonplace.

The Sumerians referred to themselves as , meaning "the black-headed people".[2]Vicki Leone contrasts this in her book Uppity Women of Ancient Times, noting that the Sumerians paintings and mosaics depict a people possessing dark blue eyes.[3] The Ancient Egyptian (New Kingdom) funerary text known as the Book of Gates distinguishes "four races of men". These are the Egyptians, the Levantine peoples or "Asiatics", the "Nubians" and the "fair-skinned Libyans".[4]

Xenophon describes the Ethiopians as black, and the Persian troops as white compared to the sun-tanned skin of Greek troops.[5] Herodotus similarly used Melanchroes "dark-skinned" for the Egyptians and he compared them to the Aithiopsi "burned-faced" for the Ethiopians. Herodotus also describes the Scythian Budini as having deep blue eyes and bright red hair.[6]

These color adjectives are typically found in contrast to the "standard" set by the own group, not as a self-description. Classicist James Dee found that, "the Greeks do not describe themselves as "white people" or as anything else because they had no regular word in their color vocabulary for themselves and we can see that the concept of a distinct 'white race' was not present in the ancient world."[7]

Assignment of positive and negative connotations of white and black date to the classical period in a number of Indo-European languages, but these differences were not applied to skin color per se. Religious conversion was described figuratively as a change in skin color.[7] Similarly, the Rigveda uses krsna tvac "black skin" as a metaphor for irreligiosity.[8]

The pseudo-Aristotelian Physiognomica (2nd century BC) in keeping with the Aristotelian doctrine of the golden mean postulates that the ideal skin tone was to be found somewhere between very dark and very light:

"Those who are too black are cowards, like for instance, the Egyptians and Ethiopians. But those who are excessively white are also cowards as we can see from the example of women and Europeans, the complexion of courage is between the two."[9]

Similar views were held by a number of Arabic writers during the time of the medieval Caliphate period. Some Arabs at the time viewed their "swarthy" skin as the ideal skin tone, in comparison to the darker Sub-Saharan Africans and the fairer "ruddy people" (which included Levantines, Persians, Turks, North Caucasians, South Caucasian and Europeans).[10]

"White people" and modern racial hierarchies

The term "white race" or "white people" entered the major European languages in the later 17th century, originating with the racialization of slavery at the time, in the context of the Atlantic slave trade and enslavement of native peoples in the Spanish Empire. While first a social category, it has repeatedly been ascribed to strains of blood, ancestry, and physical traits, and was eventually made into a subject of scientific research, which culminated in scientific racism, before being widely repudiated by the scientific community. According to historian Irene Silverblatt, "Race thinking made social categories into racial truths."[11] Bruce David Baum, citing the work of Ruth Frankenberg, states, "the history of modern racist domination has been bound up with the history of how European peoples defined themselves (and sometimes some other peoples) as members of a superior 'white race.'"[12]

According to Gregory Jay, a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee,

White people as a social category

A three-part racial schema in color terms was used in seventeenth century Latin America under Spanish rule.[13] Irene Silverblatt traces "race thinking" in South America to the social categories of colonialism and state formation: "White, black, and brown are abridged, abstracted versions of colonizer, slave, and colonized.[14] "The term white came into wide use in the British colonies in America from the 1680s.[7][15]

White people in the science of race

18th century beginnings

In 1758, Carolus Linnaeus proposed what he considered to be natural taxonomic categories of the human species. He distinguished between Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens europaeus, and he later added four geographical subdivisions of humans: white Europeans, red Americans, yellow Asians and black Africans. Although Linnaeus intended them as objective classifications, he used both taxonomical and cultural data in his subdivision descriptions.[16]

In 1775, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach described the white race as "the white color holds the first place, such as it is that most Europeans. The redness of cheeks in this variety is almost peculiar to it: at all events it is but seldom seen in the rest... Color white, Cheeks rosy".[17] He categorized humans into five races, which largely corresponded with Linnaeus' classifications, except for the addition of Oceanians (whom he called Malay).[16] He characterized the racial classification scheme of Metzger as making "two principal varieties as extremes:(1) the white man native of Europe, of the northern parts of Asia, America and Africa.."[18], and the racial classification scheme of John Hunter as having, "seven varieties:... (6) brownish as the southern Europeans, Turks, Abyssinians, Samoiedes and Lapps; (7) white, as the remaining Europeans, the Mingrelians and Kabardinski"[18]. Blumenbach is known for arguing that physical characteristics like skin color, cranial profile, etc., were correlated with group character and aptitude. Craniometry and phrenology would attempt to make physical appearance correspond with racial categories. The fairness and relatively high brows of Caucasians were held to be apt physical expressions of a loftier mentality and a more generous spirit. The epicanthic folds around the eyes of Mongolians and their slightly sallow outer epidermal layer bespoke their supposedly crafty, literal-minded nature.

Later in life, Blumenbach encountered in Switzerland "eine zum Verlieben sch ne N gresse" ("a Negress so beautiful to fall in love with"). Further anatomical study led him to the conclusion that 'individual Africans differ as much, or even more, from other individual Africans as Europeans differ from Europeans'. Furthermore he concluded that Africans were not inferior to the rest of mankind 'concerning healthy faculties of understanding, excellent natural talents and mental capacities'.[19] These later ideas were far less influential than his earlier assertions with regard to the perceived relative qualities of the different races, which opened the way to secular and scientific racism.[20]

In a 1775 work, Von den verschiedenen Rassen der Menschen ("Of [About] The Different Races of Humans"), German philosopher Immanuel Kant used the term wei (white) to refer to "the white one [race] of northern Europe" (p. 267).[18]

19th and 20th century: the "Caucasian race"

Mongoloids B]] category () in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Blending of all three types mentioned is indicated for the Balkans, Anatolia, the Levant, Persia and Northern India.

The study into race and ethnicity in the 18th and 19th centuries developed into what would later be termed scientific racism. During the period of the mid-19th to mid-20th century,[21] race scientists, including most physical anthropologists classified the world's populations into three, four, or five races, which, depending on the authority consulted, were further divided into various sub-races. During this period the Caucasian race, named after people of the North Caucasus (Caucasus Mountains) but extending to all Europeans, figured as one of these races, and was incorporated as a formal category of both scientific research and, in countries including the United States, social classification.

Meyers Blitz-Lexikon (Leipzig, 1932) divides
Meyers Blitz-Lexikon (Leipzig, 1932) divides "Europ id" into various types. Heinrich Kiepert is shown.

There was never any scholarly consensus on the delineation between the Caucasian race, including the populations of Europe, and the Mongoloid one, including the populations of East Asia. Thus, Carleton S. Coon (1939) included the populations native to all of Central and Northern Asia under the Caucasian label, while Thomas Henry Huxley (1870) classified the same populations as Mongoloid, and Lothrop Stoddard (1920) excluded the populations of the Middle East and North Africa as well as those of Central Asia, classifying them as "brown", and counted as "white" only the European peoples.

Some authorities, following Huxley (1870), distinguished the Xanthochroi or "light whites" of Northern Europe with the Melanochroi or "dark whites" of the Mediterranean.

21st century

Alastair Bonnett has stated that, a strong "current of scientific research supports the theory that Europeans were but one expression of a wider racial group (termed sometimes Caucasian), a group that included peoples from Asia and North Africa".[1][22] Bonnett, does, however, note that this is not a commonplace definition: in Europe and North America the inclusion of non-Europeans is a "technicality little favoured outside certain immigration bureaucracies and traditional anthropology."[1]

Raj Bhopal and Liam Donaldson opine that white people are a heterogeneous group, and the term white should therefore be abandoned as a classification for the purposes of epidemiology and health research, and identifications based on geographic origin and migration history be used instead.[23]

White skin

indigenous]] skin color distribution in the world based on Von Luschan's chromatic scale. White people are archetypically distinguished by light skin. Europeans have lighter skin (as measured by population average skin reflectance read by spectrophotometer at A685) than any other group that was measured. Southern Europeans (measures taken from Spaniards) show a skin pigmentation in parts of the body not exposed to the sun similar to that of Northern Europeans and, in some cases, even lighter.[24] While all mean values of skin reflectance of non-European populations are lower than Europeans for the groups represented in this study, there is significant overlap between populations.[25] This observation has been noted by the Supreme Court of the United States, which stated in a 1923 lawsuit over whiteness that the "swarthy brunette[s] ... are darker than some of the lighter hued persons of the brown or yellow races".[26] The epidermis of light skinned people is not white nor free of pigment. The underlying layers of collagen and adipose tissue are white in people of all races. In lightly pigmented people, the epidermis is an almost transparent layer of film. Consequently the epidermis allows the underlying white tissues to become visible.[27] Blood vessels interlaced between the adipose tissue produce the pale pink color associated with light skin. Pigments known as carotenes found in the fat produce a more yellow effect. In darker skinned people the epidermis is filled with melanosomes that obscure the underlying layers.[28][29][30]

Origins of light skin

The main hypotheses which attempt to account for white skin suggest it is an adaptation to inadequate ultraviolet radiation. As humans moved out of the tropics, a conspicuous latitude gradient of skin tones follows the out of Africa dispersion, it is argued natural selection for sufficient ultraviolet penetration to enable vitamin D production gave rise to the evolution of skin pigmentation by the mechanism of evolution by natural selection. Deleterious health effects of insufficient vitamin D are also pointed to as confirmation that skin lightening was in response to strong selection pressure for maximizing vitamin D.[31][32][33] A variation of the vitamin D argument is that humans lived in Europe for several thousand years without their skin lightening and that it only became white after they adopted agriculture.[31][34] It is suggested that in Europe the latitude permitted enough synthesis of vitamin D combined with hunting for health, only when agriculture was adopted was there a need for lighter skin to maximize the synthesis of vitamin D, therefore it is suggested the elimination of game meat, fish, and some plants from the diet resulted in skin turning white several thousand years after modern human settlement in Europe.[35][36]

Skin color is a quantitative trait that varies continuously on a gradient from dark to light, as it is a polygenic trait, under the influence of several genes. KITLG[37] and ASIP[38] have been found responsible for skin colour variation between sub-Saharan Africans and non-African populations. SLC45A2,[39] TYR[40] and SLC24A5[41] have been positively shown to account for a substantial fraction of the difference in melanin units between Europeans and Africans, while DCT,[42] MC1R[43] and ATRN[39] have been statistically indicated as possible sources for skin tone differences in East Asian populations.

A 2006 study concluded that light pigmentation in European and Asian populations evolved independently of each other via different genetic mechanisms, meaning that light skin probably arose some time after the initial migration out of Africa after the separation of the M and N mtDNA haplogroups.[44] The mutation resulting in the light skin version of the SLC24A5 gene has been estimated to have originated in Europe between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago, indicating that at least one of the genes responsible for pale skin colour in Europeans arose relatively recently.[45]

Mutations in the MC1R gene have been shown to cause variations in human hair colour and skin tones such as red hair and pale skin that doesn't tan. Studies have shown no evidence of positive selection for these alleles in modern day humans, and they do not appear to be associated with the evolution of fair skin in current European populations.[39][46]

Census and social definitions in different regions

Definitions of white have changed over the years, including the official definitions used in many countries, such as the United States and Brazil.[47] Some defied official regulations through the phenomenon of "passing", many of them becoming white people, either temporarily or permanently. Through the mid-to-late 20th century, numerous countries had formal legal standards or procedures defining racial categories (see cleanliness of blood, apartheid in South Africa, hypodescent). However, as critiques of racism and scientific arguments against the existence of race arose, a trend towards self-identification of racial status arose. Below are some census definitions of white, which may differ from the social definition of white within the same country. The social definition has also been added where possible.

Argentina

Argentina, along with other areas of new settlement like Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United States, is considered a country of immigrants where the vast majority originated from Europe.[48] Although no official censuses based on ethnic classification have been carried out in Argentina, some international sources state that White Argentines and other whites (Europeans and Middle-Easterners) in Argentina make up somewhere between 89.7%[49] (around 36.7 million people) and 85.8%[50] (34.4 million) of the total population. White people can be found in all areas of the country, but especially in the central-eastern region (Pampas), the central-western region (Cuyo), the southern region (Patagonia) and the north-eastern region (Litoral).

White Argentines are mainly descendants of immigrants who came from Europe and the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[51][52] After the regimented Spanish colonists, waves of European settlers came to Argentina from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Major contributors included Italy (initially from Piedmont, Veneto and Lombardy, later from Campania, Calabria, and Sicily),[53] and Spain (most are Galicians and Basques, but there are Asturians, Cantabrians, Catalans, and Andalusians). Smaller but significant numbers of immigrants include Germans, primarily Volga Germans from Russia, but also Germans from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria; French which mainly came from the Occitania region of France; Portuguese, which already conformed an important community since colonial times; Slavic groups, most of which were Croats, Bosniaks, Poles, but also Ukrainians, Belarussians, Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Montenegrins; Brits, mainly from England and Wales; Irish who left from the Potato famine or British rule; Scandinavians from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway; from the Ottoman Empire came mainly Armenians and Arabs (from what are now of Lebanon and Syria). Smaller waves of settlers from Australia and South Africa, and the United States can be traced in Argentine immigration records.

The majority of Argentina's Jewish community derives from immigrants of north and eastern European origin (Ashkenazi Jews), and about 15 20% from Sephardic groups from Syria. Argentina is home to the fifth largest Ashkenazi Jewish community in the world. (See also History of the Jews in Argentina).

By the 1910s, after immigration rates peaked, over 30 percent of the country's population was from outside Argentina, and over half of Buenos Aires' population was foreign-born.[54][55] However, the 1914 National Census revealed that around 80% of the national population were either European immigrants, their children or grandchildren.[56] Among the remaining 20 percent (those descended from the population residing locally before this immigrant wave took shape in the 1870s), around a third were white.[57] European immigration continued to account for over half the nation's population growth during the 1920s, and was again significant (albeit in a smaller wave) following World War II.[56] It is estimated that Argentina received a total amount of 6.6 million European and Middle-Eastern immigrants during the period 1857-1940.[58]

White Argentines, therefore, likely peaked as a percentage of the national population at over 90% on or shortly after the 1947 census. Since the 1960s, increasing immigration from bordering countries to the north (especially from Bolivia and Paraguay, which have Amerindian and Mestizo majorities) has lessened that majority somewhat.[56]

Criticism of the national census state that data has historically been collected using the category of national origin rather than race in Argentina, leading to undercounting Afro-Argentines and mestizos.[59] Africa Viva (Living Africa) is a black rights group in Buenos Aires with the support of the Organization of American States, financial aid from the World Bank and Argentina's census bureau is working to add an "Afro-descendants" category to the 2010 census. The 1887 national census was the final year where blacks were included as a separate category before it was eliminated by the government.[60]

Australia

From 1788, when the first British colony in Australia was founded, until the early 19th century, most immigrants to Australia were English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish convicts. These were augmented by small numbers of free settlers from the British Isles and other European countries. However, until the mid-19th century, there were few restrictions on immigration, although members of ethnic minorities tended to be assimilated into the Anglo-Celtic populations.

People of many nationalities, including many non-white people, emigrated to Australia during the goldrushes of the 1850s. However, the vast majority was still white and the goldrushes inspired the first racist activism and policy, directed mainly at Chinese people.

From the late 19th century, the Colonial/State and later federal governments of Australia restricted all permanent immigration to the country by non-Europeans. These policies became known as the "White Australia policy", which was consolidated and enabled by the Immigration Restriction Act 1901,[61] but was never universally applied. Immigration inspectors were empowered to ask immigrants to take dictation from any European language as a test for admittance, a test used in practice to exclude people from Asia, Africa, and some European and South American countries, depending on the political climate.

Although they were not the prime targets of the policy, it was not until after World War II that large numbers of southern European and eastern European immigrants were admitted for the first time.[62] Following this, the White Australia Policy was relaxed in stages: non-European nationals who could demonstrate European descent were admitted (e.g. descendants of European colonizers and settlers from Latin America or Africa), as were autochthonous inhabitants of various nations from the Middle East, most significantly from Lebanon. In 1973, all immigration restrictions based on race and/or geographic origin were officially terminated.

Brazil

Recent censuses in Brazil are conducted on the basis of self-identification. In the 2000 census, 53.7% of Brazilians (approximately 93 million people in 2000) were White and 39.1% Pardo or multiracial Brazilians; but in 2008 a new National Survey of Household was conducted, and the percentage of Brazilians who self-identified as "Brancos" diminished to 48.4% (92 million people), while the Pardos increased up to 43.8%.[63]

This significant percentage change is considered to be caused by people who used to identify themselves as White and now reappreciated their African and/or Amerindian and/or East Asian ancestry, and so they changed their self-identification to "Pardo" and "Asian" (also, the differences of income, life standards and birth/death rate between self-described fair-skinned and grayish-brown-skinned Brazilians the literal meanings of branco and pardo, the predominant origin in both of these groups according to genetic research is race mixed with mostly European ancestry, from about 75% in the least European-descendant pardos to about 90% in the most European-descendant brancos according to the Brazilian region in which the study was done can interfere in their growth rate, thus Brazilians of "racial minorities", mainly the Pardo, the only one which surpass 10%, would being surpassing White Brazilians not only by a change of identity but also by birth rate).

White in Brazil is applied as a term to people of European descent (including European Jews), and Middle Easterners of all faiths. The census shows a trend of fewer Brazilians of a different descent (most likely mixed) identifying as white people as their social status increases.[64][65] Nevertheless, light-skinned mulattoes and mestizos with Caucasian features were also historically deemed as more closely related to the branco Middle Easterner and European descendants' group than the pardo "grayish-skinned" multiracial one by a sort of unique social constructs, especially among those multiracials with non-Portuguese European ancestry, and such change of identities actually can mean more of a westernization of the concept of race in Brazil (mixed ancestry, as explained below, is not a factor against in historical definitions of whiteness in Brazil) than a change in the self-esteem of "marginalized and unconscious multiracial populations trying to paint themselves as white in a hopeful attempt to deny their unprivileged person of color status", as common sense among some Brazilians and foreigners is used to state.

Aside from Portuguese colonization, there were large waves of immigration from Southern, Western, Northern, Central and Eastern Europe as well Balkans and the Middle East in Brazil, the fourth largest number of the Americas just after United States, Canada and Argentina. But these communities of European and Middle Eastern descent also mostly have members with some Subsaharan African and/or Amerindian ancestry nowadays, since not only the White population of Portuguese origin which absorved most of the descendants of the immigrants via intermarriage carried them, but interracial marriages and relationships in Brazil were common among most ethnic groups, all of them after 2 or 3 generations in the country, with many White Brazilian children being the offspring from Europeans or Middle Easterners and afrodescendant multiracials or persons of Amerindian/East Asian origin. Non-Portuguese ancestry generally is associated to a image of "foreigner", "European", and as such contributed to achieving whiter social perceptions in the colour scale of the Brazilian society, even if the person is noticeably of mixed origins.

Canada

In the results of Statistics Canada's 2001 Canadian Census, white is one category in the population groups data variable, derived from data collected in question 19 (the results of this question are also used to derive the visible minority groups variable).[66]

In the 1995 Employment Equity Act, '"members of visible minorities" means persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour'. In the 2001 Census, persons who selected Chinese, South Asian, African, Filipino, Latin American, Southeast Asian, Arab, West Asian, Middle Eastern, Japanese or Korean were included in the visible minority population.[67] A separate census question on "cultural or ethnic origin" (question 17) does not refer to skin color.[68]

Chile

In 2009, Chile had an estimated population of 16,970,000, of which approximately 8.8 million or 52.7% are of European descent, with mestizos estimated at 44%.[69] Other studies found a white majority measured at 64% to 90% of the Chilean population.[70][71][72] However, another study that analyzed the genotype of the Chilean population showed that 30% are white, while the mestizo population with predominantly white (castizo) ancestry is estimated at 65%.[73] Chile's various waves of immigrants consisted Spanish, Italians, Irish, French, Greeks, Germans, English, Scots, Croats, and Palestinian arrivals.

The largest ethnic group in Chile arrived from Spain and the Basque regions in the south of France. Estimates of the number of Basque descendants in Chile range from 10% (1,600,000) to as high as 27% (4,500,000).[74][75] [76] [77] [78][79][80][81]

In 1848 an important and substantial German immigration took place, laying the foundation for the German-Chilean community. Sponsored by the Chilean government for the colonization of the southern region, the Germans (including German-speaking Swiss, Silesians, Alsatians and Austrians), strongly influenced the cultural and racial composition of the southern provinces of Chile. The German Embassy in Chile estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Chileans are of German origin.[82]

It is estimated that nearly 5% of the Chilean population is of Asian descent, chiefly from the Middle East, i.e. Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese, totalling around 800,000.[83][84] Note that Israelis, both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the nation of Israel may be included. Chile is home to a large population of immigrants, mostly Christian, from the Levant.[85] Roughly 500,000 Palestinian descendants are believed to reside in Chile.[86][87][88][89][90]

Another historically significant immigrant group is Croatian. The number of their descendants today is estimated to be 380,000 persons, the equivalent of 2.4% of the population.[91][92] Other authors claim, on the other hand, that close to 4.6% of the Chilean population must have some Croatian ancestry.[93] Over 700,000 Chileans may have British (English, Scottish or Welsh) origin. 4.5% of Chile's population.[94] Chileans of Greek descent are estimated 90,000 to 120,000.[95] Most of them live either in the Santiago area or in the Antofagasta area, and Chile is one of the 5 countries with the most descendants of Greeks in the world.[96] The descendants of the Swiss reach 90,000[97] and it is estimated that about 5% of the Chilean population has some French ancestry.[98] 600,000 to 800,000 are of Italian descent. Other groups of Europeans have followed, but are found in smaller numbers. Together they transformed the country culturally, economically and politically.

Costa Rica

In 2009, Costa Rica had an estimated population of 4,509,290. White people (includes mestizo) make up 94%, 3% of the remainder are black people, 1% are Amerindians, and 1% are Chinese. White Costa Ricans are mostly of Spanish ancestry, but there are also significant numbers of Costa Ricans descended from British Italian, German, English, Dutch, French, Irish, Portuguese, Lebanese and Polish families, as well a sizable Jewish community.[99]

Cuba

Contrary to most other Caribbean nations, Cuba became predominantly populated by European immigrants (followed in such regard by Puerto Rico). In 1958 it was estimated that approximately 74% of Cubans were of European ancestry, mainly of Spanish origin, 10% of African ancestry, 15% of both African and European ancestry (mulattos), and a small 1% of the population was Asian, predominantly Chinese. However, after the Cuban revolution, due to a combination of factors, mainly mass exodus to Miami, United States, a drastic decrease in immigration, and interracial reproduction, Cuba's demography has changed. As a result, those of complete European ancestry and those of pure African ancestry have decreased, the mulatto population has increased, and the Asian population has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared.

The 2002 census figures supplied by the Cuban regime claims that 65% of Cubans were white.[100] However, the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami says the present Cuban population is 38% white and 62% black/mulatto.[100] The Minority Rights Group International says that "An objective assessment of the situation of Afro-Cubans remains problematic due to scant records and a paucity of systematic studies both pre- and post-revolution. Estimates of the percentage of people of African descent in the Cuban population vary enormously, ranging from 33.9 per cent to 62 per cent".[101][102]

According to the 2002 census, Cuba's population was 11,177,743.

Mexico

The only time that the Mexican Government has asked Mexicans about their perception of their own racial heritage was in the 1921 census.[103] 10% of the population answered that they were white. The Distrito Federal, in the Mexico City area, had the largest total of whites (206,514 of the 1.4 million nationwide), followed by Chihuahua (145,926), Sonora (115,151), Veracruz (114,150), and Mexico state (88,660), while in terms of percentage, the white population was most prominent in Sonora (41.85%), Chihuahua (36.33%), Baja California Sur (33.40%), Tabasco (27.56%), and Distrito Federal (22.79%). Since then, many new white immigrants have arrived, as was described above.

Norway

According to the Norwegian Social Science Data Service, white is a possible answer to ethnic/people group category question. After Norwegians, Sami, Kvens and other Nordics, it is mentioned as white/European. Other categories are Asian, Black/African/Caribbean and "other".[104]

Peru

, the Peruvian population was reported to be composed of Amerindians: 45%,[105] Mestizos: 37%,[106] In the 1876 census, 57.6% of the population was classified as Indian, 24.8% as mestizo, 13.8% as white and 3.8% as black and Asian.[107] According to Alberto Flores Galindo, "By the 1940 census, the last that utilized racial categories, mestizos were grouped with whites, and the two constituted more than 53% of the population."[108]

Puerto Rico

Official Census [109][110][111]
Year White Non-White
1830 50.1 49.9
1899 61.8 38.2
2000 80.5 19.5
2007 76.2 23.8
Racial composition (percentages) by
the official Spanish and U.S census.

Contrary to most other Caribbean nations, Puerto Rico gradually became predominantly populated by European immigrants. Puerto Ricans of European, mostly Spanish descent, are said to comprise the majority. (See: Spanish immigration to Puerto Rico). In 1899, one year after the U.S invaded and took control of the island, 61.8% of people self-identified as White. One hundred years later, the total has risen to 80.5% (3,064,862), one percent more than reported in 1950.[112]

Hundreds from Corsica, France, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, and Portugal, along with large numbers of immigrants from Spain. This was the result of granted land from Spain during the Real Cedula de Gracias de 1815 (Royal Decree of Graces of 1815), which allowed European Catholics to settle in the island with a certain amount of free land.

Between 1960 and 1990 the census questionnaire in Puerto Rico did not ask about race or color. Racial categories therefore disappeared from the dominant discourse on the Puerto Rican nation. However, the 2000 census included a racial self-identification question in Puerto Rico and, for the first time ever, allowed respondents to choose more than one racial category to indicate mixed ancestry. (Only 4.2% chose two or more races.) With few variations, the census of Puerto Rico used the same questionnaire as in the U.S. mainland. This decision was a response to intense lobbying by former governor Pedro Rossello's administration to include Puerto Rico in federal census statistics, along with the fifty states. According to census reports, most islanders responded to the new federally mandated categories on race and ethnicity by insisting on their "whiteness"; few declared themselves to be Black or some other race.[113]

South Africa

Sign reserving a beach for the "white race group" (blanke rassegroep) in South Africa under apartheid. White South Africans is a term which refers to people from South Africa who identify themselves as white, often as a consequence of the racial classification system under Apartheid. White South Africans are usually predominantly descended from settlers from European countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal and Great Britain. The white proportion of the population has been decreasing from 22% in 1911 to 9% in 2010.[114] Statistics South Africa estimates that there are about 4.3 million white people in South Africa, while CIA estimates their numbers are closer to 5.2 million.[115] However, it is clear that all numbers are down from an all-time high of 5.6 million in 1995.[116]

Prior to the decolonisation movements of the post-World War II era, white people were represented in every part of Africa.[117] Decolonisation during the 1960s and 1970s often resulted in the mass emigration of European-descended settlers out of Africa especially from Algeria (1.6 million pieds-noirs in North Africa),[118] Angola (half-million whites),[119] Kenya, Congo,[120] Mozambique and Rhodesia. Nevertheless, White Africans remain an important minority in many African states. The African country with the largest White African population is South Africa.[121]

Great Britain and Ireland

Historical white identities

Before the Industrial Revolutions in Europe whiteness may have been associated with social status. Aristocrats may have had less exposure to the sun and therefore a pale complexion may have been associated with status and wealth.[122] This may be the origin of "blue blood" as a description of royalty, the skin being so lightly pigmented that the blueness of the veins could be clearly seen.[123] The change in the meaning of white that occurred in the colonies (see above) to distinguish Europeans from non-Europeans did not apply to 'home' countries (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales). Whiteness therefore retained a meaning associated with social status. During the 19th century, when the British Empire was at its peak, many of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy developed extremely chauvinistic attitudes to those of lower social rank. Edward Lhuyd discovered that Welsh, Gaelic, Cornish and Breton are all part of the same language family, which he called "Celtic", and were distinct from the Germanic English; this can be seen in context with 19th century romantic nationalism. On the other hand the discovery of Anglo-Saxon remains also led to a belief that the English were descended from a distinct Germanic lineage that was fundamentally (and racially) different from that of the Celts. Early British anthropologists such as John Beddoe and Robert Knox emphasised this distinction, and it was common to find texts that claimed that Welsh, Irish and Scottish people are the descendants of the indigenous more "primitive" inhabitants of the islands, while the English, are the descendants of a more advanced and recent "Germanic" migration. Beddoe especially postulated that the Welsh and Irish people are closer to the Cro-Magnon, whom he also considered Africanoid, and it was common to find references to the swarthyness of the skin of peoples from the west of the islands, by comparison to the more pale skinned and blond English residing in the east. For example Thomas Huxley's "On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind" (1870) described Irish, Scots and Welsh peoples as a mixture of "melanochroi" (melano dark coloured), and "xanthochroi", while the English were "xanthochroi" (xanthro yellow). Just as race reified whiteness in the colonies, so capitalism without social welfare reified whiteness with regards to social class in 19th century Britain and Ireland; this social distinction of whiteness became, over time, associated with racial difference. For example George Sims in How the poor live (1883) wrote of "...a dark continent that is within easy reach of the General Post Office... the wild races who inhabit it will, I trust, gain public sympathy as easily as [other] savage tribes"[124] and Count Gobineau in The Inequality of Human Races wrote the following:

Every social order is founded upon three social classes, each of which represents a racial variety: the nobility, a more or less accurate reflection of the conquering race; the bourgeoisie composed of mixed stock coming close to the chief race; and the common people who live in servitude or at least in a very depressed position.[125]

Modern and official use

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics uses the term white as an ethnic category. The terms White British, White Irish, White Scottish and White Other are used. These classifications rely on individuals' self-identification, since it is recognised that ethnic identity is not an objective category.[126]

Socially, in the UK white usually refers only to people of native British, Irish and European origin.[127] In 2001 92.2% of the British population identified themselves as white, and 2006 estimates for England only, state the English population as 88.7% white. As of 2007, 22% of primary school children in England were from ethnic minority families.[128]

United States

U.S Census 1790 2010 [129][130]
Year Population % of the U.S
1790 3,172,006 80.7
1800 4,306,446 81.1
1850 19,553,068 84.3
1900 66,809,196 87.9
1940 118,214,870 89.8 (highest)
1950 134,942,028 89.5
1980 188,371,622 83.1
2000 211,460,626 75.1 [131]
2010 223,553,265 72.4 [132] (lowest)

The current U.S. Census definition includes white "a person having origins in any of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.[132] The U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation describes white people as "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa through racial categories used in the UCR Program adopted from the Statistical Policy Handbook (1978) and published by the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce.[133] The "white" category in the UCR includes non-black Hispanics.[134]

The cultural boundaries separating white Americans from other racial or ethnic categories are contested and always changing. According to John Tehranian, among those not considered white at some points in American history have been: the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Spaniards, white Hispanics, Slavs, and Greeks.[135] Studies have found that while current parameters officially encompassed Arabs as part of the White American racial category, many Arab Americans from places other than the Levant feel they are not white and are not perceived as white by American society."[136]

Professor David R. Roediger of the University of Illinois, suggests that the construction of the white race in the United States was an effort to mentally distance slave owners from slaves.[137] By the 18th century, white had become well established as a racial term. The process of officially being defined as white by law often came about in court disputes over pursuit of citizenship. The Immigration Act of 1790 offered naturalization only to "any alien, being a free white person". In at least 52 cases, people denied the status of white by immigration officials sued in court for status as white people. By 1923, courts had vindicated a "common-knowledge" standard, concluding that "scientific evidence" was incoherent. Legal scholar John Tehranian argues that in reality this was a "performance-based" standard, relating to religious practices, education, intermarriage and a community's role in the United States.[138]

In 1923, the Supreme Court decided in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind that people of India were not "free white men" entitled to citizenship, despite anthropological evidence in "the extreme northwestern districts of India"[139] there is present the "Caucasian or Aryan race"[139] with an "intermixture of blood"[139] from the "dark skinned Dravidian". A report from the Pew Research Center in 2008 projects that by 2050, Non-Hispanic White Americans will make up 47% of the population, down from 67% projected in 2005.[140] White Americans made up nearly 90% of the population in 1950.[129]

One-third of Americans classified as "white" in a study contained between two and twenty percent African genetic admixture, which can be extrapolated to about 74 million whites in America with this admixture.[141][142]

One drop rule

The one drop rule–that a person with any amount of known African ancestry (however small or invisible) is not white–is a classification that was used in parts of the United States.[143] It is a colloquial term for a set of laws passed by 18 US states between 1910 and 1931, many as a consequence of Plessy v. Ferguson, a Supreme Court decision that upheld the concept of racial segregation by accepting a separate but equal argument. The set of laws was finally declared unconstitutional in 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled on anti-miscegenation laws while hearing Loving v. Virginia, which also found that Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was unconstitutional. The one drop rule attempted to create a bifurcated system of either black or white regardless of a person's physical appearance, but sometimes failed as people with African ancestry sometimes passed as "white", as noted above. This contrasts with the more flexible social structures present in Latin America (derived from the Spanish colonial era casta system) where there were less clear-cut divisions between various ethnicities.

As a result of centuries of having children with white people, the majority of African Americans have European admixture, and many white people also have African ancestry. Robert P. Stuckert, member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ohio State University said that the majority of the descendants of African slaves are white.[144] Writer and editor Debra Dickerson questions the legitimacy of the one drop rule, stating that "easily one-third of black people have white DNA".[145] She argues that in ignoring their European ancestry, African Americans are denying their fully articulated multi-racial identities. The peculiarity of the one drop rule may be illustrated by the case of singer Mariah Carey,[146] who was publicly called "another white girl trying to sing black", but in an interview with Larry King, responded that despite her physical appearance and the fact that she was raised primarily by her white mother due to the one drop rule she did not "feel white".[147][148][149]

Uruguay

Uruguayans and Argentines share closely related demographic ties. Different estimates state that Uruguay's population of 3.4 million is composed of 88% to 93% white Uruguayans.[150][151] Uruguay's population is heavily populated by people of European origin, mainly Spaniards, followed closely by Italians,[152] including numbers of French, Germans, Irish, British, Swiss, Eastern Europeans, Southern Europeans, Dutch, Belgians, Austrians, Scandinavians, Lebanese, and Armenians which migrated to Uruguay in the late 19th century and 20th century. According to the 2006 National Survey of Homes by the Uruguayan National Institute of Statistics: 94.6% self-identified as having a white background, 9.1% chose Afro/Black ancestry, and 4.5% chose a native American ancestry (people surveyed were allowed to choose more than one option).[153]

European-descended peoples

Historical populations

Blue-eyed Central Asian (Tocharian?) and East-Asian Buddhist monks, Tarim Basin, 9th-10th centuries AD.
Blue-eyed Central Asian (Tocharian?) and East-Asian Buddhist monks, Tarim Basin, 9th-10th centuries AD.

Contemporary populations

Nations and regions outside of Europe with significant populations of European ancestry:

Swaziland: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

Central Asia]], present-day Kazakhstan, 1911.

ISBN 1-84331-117-8

Turkmenistan: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

Italian immigrants arriving in S o Paulo, Brazil c. 1890.

Argentina: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

Bolivia: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

Brazil: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

Colombia: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

Mexico: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA[196]

Peru: People: Ethnic Groups. World Factbook of CIA

References

Bibliography

  • Allen, Theodore, The Invention of the White Race, 2 vols. (London: Verso, 1994)
  • Bruce David Baum, The rise and fall of the Caucasian race: a political history of racial identity, NYU Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8147-9892-8.
  • Bonnett, Alastair White Identities: Historical and International Perspectives (Harlow, Pearson, 2000)
  • Brodkin, Karen, How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America, Rutgers, 1999, ISBN 0-8135-2590-X.
  • Foley, Neil, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)
  • Gossett, Thomas F., Race: The History of an Idea in America, New ed. (New York: Oxford University, 1997)
  • Guglielmo, Thomas A., White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890 1945, 2003, ISBN 0-19-515543-2
  • Hannaford, Ivan, Race: The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1996)
  • Ignatiev, Noel, How the Irish Became White, Routledge, 1996, ISBN 0-415-91825-1.
  • Jackson, F. L. C. (2004). Book chapter: Human genetic variation and health: new assessment approaches based on ethnogenetic layering British Medical Bulletin 2004; 69: 215 235 . Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  • Jacobson, Matthew Frye, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race, Harvard, 1999, ISBN 0-674-95191-3.
  • Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006). The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story. Constable and Robinson Ltd., London. ISBN 978-1-84529-158-7.
  • Rosenberg NA, Mahajan S, Ramachandran S, Zhao C, Pritchard JK, et al. (2005) Clines, Clusters, and the Effect of Study Design on the Inference of Human Population Structure. PLoS Genet 1(6): e70
  • Rosenberg NA, Pritchard JK, Weber JL, Cann HM, Kidd KK, et al. (2002) Genetic structure of human populations. Science 298: 2381 2385. Abstract
  • Segal, Daniel A., review of Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit American Ethnologist May 2002, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 470 473
  • Smedley, Audrey, Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview, 2nd ed. (Boulder: Westview, 1999).
  • Tang, Hua., Tom Quertermous, Beatriz Rodriguez, Sharon L. R. Kardia, Xiaofeng Zhu, Andrew Brown, James S. Pankow, Michael A. Province, Steven C. Hunt, Eric Boerwinkle, Nicholas J. Schork, and Neil J. Risch (2005) Genetic Structure, Self-Identified Race/Ethnicity, and Confounding in Case-Control Association Studies Am. J. Hum. Genet. 76:268 275.

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