Black Majority in America

I have a question that I hope someone can answer. It is about the issue of a black majority.

For much of its history, South Carolina was majority black going back to the colonial era (see “Black Majority” by Peter Wood). So, when did South Carolina stop being a black majority state? What was the exact year or decade?

That is my basic question. I had some other related thoughts.

Frederick Douglass predicted the Deep South would have eventually become black majority. This failed to happen because of all the mass migrations of Europeans during the mid and late 1800s and into the early 1900s.

Now, the black population is growing again. It is possible that some state might become a black majority in the coming generations, depending on demographic patterns. Then again, there might be another mass migration from Europe to re-establish the white majority stronghold.

Hispanics are also growing faster as a population than are blacks. Many Hispanics are increasingly choosing to identify as white. They will probably go the way of other ethnic Americans and assimilate into American whiteness.

What will that mean for the black population? Will blacks still remain the official minority scapegoat for the nation? Why don’t blacks do what the Mormons did and start their own separate society?

If all the blacks moved to a single state, they would then have a majority and they could gain political control and self-governance. As a symbolic act, they could regain the majority they once held in South Carolina, but this time it would be different. It would be an interesting experiment.

16 thoughts on “Black Majority in America

    • That makes sense. The once concentrated black population was dispersed. I have read about the large migration of blacks during the early to mid 20th century. I wonder what would have happened if most of those blacks had remained in the Deep South.

  1. One of my classes this semester is African American literature, and we discussed this very phenomenon today in class. As stated, the migration of Blacks that went up north during the early to mid 20th century depleted the south of many Blacks. The movement up north produced the Harlem Renaissance, which included many great works of African American literature and jazz, of course. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the artistic and scholarly contributions made by Blacks would not have evolved in the way that it did had they stayed in the South.
    It’s interesting to read W.E.B. Dubois and Alain Leroy Locke’s essays on the African American with the benefit of knowing how things played out for Blacks in the South. They both chastised Southern Blacks to some degree for not working hard enough to change their situations. Neither knew what we know now – that people like Milton made sure they couldn’t change their circumstances very easily. I think Locke even stated something like 1) We were slaves. 2) We were freed. 3) And now we’re. I may be over-simplyfying what he said and it may have even been someone else who said it, but it was definitely someone with the same Black pedigree. Pedigree as in being raised up north, highly educated and from influential Black families. Philadelphia was another city the drew a lot of Southern Blacks also.

    • Certainly, the migration north made the Harlem Renaissance possible. But every actualization of a possibility precludes the actualization of other possibilities.

      Maybe the reason the South has seen so little change is because of the exodus of a large number of the people who could have forced that change. If South Carolina had remained a black majority the entire time, I’m sure it would be a very different place to this day.

      Then again, maybe a change of environment was good for a change in general. Similar problems are seen with poor whites in the South. Poor whites haven’t been able to make big changes either, despite being part of the racial majority in the South.

  2. I suppose that this is fueling the insecurities of whites in the South? The rise of the Tea Party and similar very right wing organizations?

    • I suspect the growing minority-majority in the South and Southeast will lead to a 21st century mass exodus of right-wing whites fleeing to the North. A white flight on a scale never seen in American history.

      Living in the Midwest, I worry about this. I’d hate for my state to be overwhelmed by Southern right-wing bigots (while the tolerant socially liberal whites remained in the South or started heading to the South to avoid those others moving North).

      It could lead to another divide not unlike how citizens began geographically self-segregating prior to the Civil War. Demographic battle lines are being drawn right now. I’m watching closely to see the signs of how this is playing out.

  3. I suspect the growing minority-majority in the South and Southeast will lead to a 21st century mass exodus of right-wing whites fleeing to the North. A white flight on a scale never seen in American history.

    Depends on if they flee at all. I suspect that it might be more local, not unlike the White Flight after WWII. That is, they will form their own communities and move further away from the cities.

    But I see your concern about the Midwest. My guess is the rural-urban divide will grow a lot if what you hypothesize happens.

    The best possibility is that they head north to the big coastal cities. Probably won’t happen though. Their children would be in a relatively post-racial era.

    The more I study the US, the more I feel like the Jesusland solution is the best way to solve the problems.

    • Maybe they could settle on the moon and have their Jesusland there. They could create a hermetically sealed white society. They wouldn’t have to ever see, hear, or think about minorities ever again.

      Then they’d be free to create their all-white xenophobic utopia. It would make for an interesting experiment. I suspect it might not be so utopian in practice.

      • If I remember correctly, I think 80% of all white violent crime is white on white. Despite the claims that Blacks or “Illegals” as they are called are responsible for crime, the overwhelming majority is still white on white.

        If we were to compare the “red” areas that make up Jesusland today to say, Denmark, it would look very bad as it is, and remember, a disproportionate number of these states take in more federal tax money than they give.

        The other is that they would not be smart enough to be able to form a moon colony and settle it. Certainly, there are some very intelligent people in Jesusland, but as a percent of intelligent vs anti-intellectual, well, suffice it to say, it does not reflect well.

        That being said, a homogenous society does not always mean a terrible society. Japan is a good example.

        • I don’t know the percentages offhand. I do know that most white crime is committed against other whites. Also, as whites are the majority, even with racial disparities, more whites in raw numbers are negatively impacted by social problems, from poverty to crimes.

          Of course, most of these white social problems are found in Jesusland. The poor white communities in the rural South are just as bad and in some ways worse than poor black communities in the urban North. Race is an important issue, but there is a lot more going on with poverty, economic inequality, and other class issues.

          White right-wing Jesuslanders may not be able to settle the moon on their own. We could give them federal funding to help them get started. Or we could just put them on rocket ships, as Douglas Adams wrote in his Hitchhiker’s series.

          Homogenous societies are interesting. They are found among the best and the worst societies in the world. The homogeneity tends to magnify their characteristics, whether good or bad.

  4. Ironically if it succeeded they’d forget about it.

    Look at history:
    – The rural South got a disproportionate share of the New Deal spending on infrastructure; especially the rural electrification projects

    – The effort to eradicate malaria in the US

    – Military spending disproportionately benefits the South (note the concentration of bases) as a source of employment and advancement into the middle class that many never had

    – Arguably the Space Program as well

    – Today most Southern States pay less taxes than they get back

    I have no doubt that if anything happened for them, they’d forget it.

    An example. Today many of Religious Right activists oppose stem cell research. I have doubt that if in the upcoming decades, stem cell research leads to a major breakthrough, they will be the first to demand that THEY get the benefits, despite their opposition.

    Homogenous societies are interesting. They are found among the best and the worst societies in the world. The homogeneity tends to magnify their characteristics, whether good or bad.

    There’s a great deal of concern in Sweden about this and support for anti-immigration has gone up in recent years. They let in a lot of refugees and many have not integrated very well.

    The other issue is that the Scandinavian model needs a very high percentage of people working full time for it to work. Many immigrants struggle to find employment and in some cases, face racism.

    Japan too has been facing similar anti-immigrant sentiment. They need it partly due to their rapidly aging population.

    • I think about this kind of thing all the time. The state I live in, Iowa, is fairly homogenous as well. The South in some ways may have an advantage in having been forced to deal with diversity in the way many parts of the country haven’t. It might not be as rough a transition for the South to become minority-majority. They’ve had generations to prepare for it. The Midwest isn’t all that great in dealing with diversity, although it once was a region known for its diversity.

      • I doubt that the South has any advantage in integration. Perhaps the large coastal cities in the US do though.

        I’d say among the places in the world that have handled multiculturalism well, Canada would rank near the top. It has a mixed population from all over the world, a large white population, and on the whole, does reasonably well in most meaningful measures, although it seems to share the same problems that the Anglo nations have.

        – High inequality
        – High poverty for given level of wealth
        – Manufacturing outsourced due to poor economic ideology
        – Neoliberal economics
        – Weak employee protection laws

        Those seem to be common in the Anglo world for some reason. The UK and Australia also suffer from them.

        • My study of history has given me a lot more respect for the strength multiculturalism gives the US, both in the North and the South. This is largely about its location between two oceans and its originating between three separate empires.

          The fastest growing demographic is that of Hispanics, the most multicultural group in the Americas who have developed a complex Mestizo mentality for a long time. Hispanics are particularly a growing demographic in the southern part of the country. WASP culture won’t be able to assimilate Hispanics as they did with past ethnic groups.

          The South has always had its own progressive and left-wing traditions. I think many people are going to be surprised by what comes out of the South in the coming decades.

  5. Change will have to come gradually I think.

    The other issue I see is that the WASP population may attempt other measures to try to keep control. The “vote suppression”, War on Drugs, and well, other efforts to block minorities from gaining a voice, or middle-class status may expand, perhaps even intensify.

    Compounding the issue, the decline of middle class fortunes in White America may increase WASP support for such measures. Already support for things like border fences, vigilante immigrant control groups is rapidly rising.

    In the long run, I expect that through sheer numbers, there will be better social justice, but that it will take another movement like the Civil Rights to get there.

    To be honest, I expect changes to occur in Europe, Canada, Australia, and the Northeast US, along with the West Coast US much faster than in the South.

    • I suspect the US South will change faster than expected. It is feeling demographic pressure as a region in a way not felt in most of Europe, Canada, Australia, and the Northeast US. Yes, they are also experiencing the typical internal resistance, but I would point out two things. First, change is inevitable. The push and pull of change will lead to violence, but it will also lead to dynamic innovative responses. Second, it will be far different from here on in. The minority-majority will throw a wrench into the works of the old white social order.

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