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2021 U. Chi. L. Rev. Online 1 (2021)
A Demographic Moral Panic: Fears of a Majority-Minority Future and the Depreciating Value of Whiteness

handle is hein.journals/uchidial89 and id is 248 raw text is: 08/16/21 U. Chi. L. Rev. Online *1

Brittany Farr
In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new population
projection based on Census 2000. According to the projection, which
reached all the way to the year 2050, the country's non-Hispanic white
population would fall below 50% in the year 2042. After 2042, the
United States would be majority-minority. This impending
demographic shift received significant coverage in mainstream news
media. Journalists described these projected changes as
unprecedented, monumental, and taking place faster than expected. In
the words of one commentator, the [U.S.] white majority will soon
disappear forever.
Over the last thirteen years, news coverage of demographic
changes has regularly used anxiety-provoking rhetoric to link the
majority-minority shift to white decline. The following headlines
illustrate the tenor of much of this reporting:
 Census Shows White Decline. Nonwhite Majority Among
Youngest Americans;
 As America Changes, Some Anxious Whites Feel Left
. The Declining Influence of White Christian America, in
* Orowing Pains: Multicultural Explosion Rattles
* Minority Report: New U.S. Data Shows More Ethnic
Babies than Whites;
* White Women Influencing Shift to Minority-Ma ority
Nation; and
* Whites to Lose Majority Status in U.S. by 2042.
These articles, which exemplify the news coverage considered in this
Essay, cast the country's changing demographics as a story of profound
racial transformation. On one side of this story is a multicultural
explosion. And on the other side is white decline and 'loss. This
relationship is zero sum: minorities can become the majority only at
the expense of the white population. And the proliferation of white
anxiety in the face of this loss, suggests that the nonwhite population
stands to inherit something more than just majority status. Indeed,
this rhetoric suggests that the reputational value of whiteness,
meaning its value as a privilege-conferring identity, is bound up with
the white population's status as the demographic majority. Since the

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