My Turn: ‘White Replacement Theory’

  • An envelope containing a 2020 census letter. AP/PAUL SANCYA

Published: 12/28/2021 2:22:18 PM
Modified: 12/28/2021 2:21:52 PM

Republicans recently resurrected the “white replacement theory.” The last time I heard that phrase used was when white supremacists chanted, “Jews will not replace us,” at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12, 2017.

But are white Americans really being replaced? Our national census should be able to answer that question. Since the birth of the United States of America we have had 24 national censuses. The national census has occurred every 10 years since 1790. The census is used to determine a state representation in the House of Representatives, racial demographics and where the nation’s resources should be allocated.

From 1790-1990 (21 censuses in a row), whites composed more than 80% of the nation’s population. The census of 1930 and 1940 shows that whites made up 89.8% of the population. Only recently has the white population fallen below 80%.

In the census of 2020, the white population fell to 204 million. That’s 19 million less than the census of 2010, which noted 223 million whites. The 2020 census reflected the first drop of the white population in 230 years. Republican’s claim that whites are being replaced isn’t supported by the data. Consider the following demographics on Native Americans and African Americans.

Before Columbus sailed the ocean blue (1492), there was between 3.5 million to 18 million “Original People” living in the lands that would become the United States and Canada, according to William Denevan. By 1600, 90% of the Indigenous people of North America perished from European diseases, slavery and wars.

The national census of 1860 noted the United States population at 31.4 million people. Native Americans made up .0014% of that number (44,000). By the census of 2020, the Original People’s numbers had recovered to pre-Columbus day numbers (3.7 million people). Currently, Native Americans represent 1.1% of the nation’s population.

With European colonialism came disease, conquest and the enslavement of Native Americans. A noble people laid low and forced to reside on reservations. If anyone has a legitimate claim of being replaced, it’s the Original People of North America, not whites.

Besides Native Americans, no people has endured more abuse at the hands of whites than African Americans. Taken from their native lands in Africa, Africans were forced to labor on plantations in the United States until death liberated them. After the Civil War, slavery was outlawed in the U.S. with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

The 1790 census noted 3.9 million people residing in the U.S. Blacks made up 19.3% of the nation’s population (753,000). By the census of 1860, 31.4 million people resided in the United States. Blacks made up 14.1% of the population (4.4 million). In 1920, the census noted 106 million people residing in the United States. African Americans represented only 9.9% of the population (10.5 million).

As the censuses of 1860 and 1920 clearly show, African American’s percentage of the nation’s population had been steadily declining. By 1920, African Americans made up only 9.9% of the population. Conversely, the white’s percentage of the population has been continually growing since 1790. By 1920, whites made up 89.7% of the population.

So why did white’s numbers increase exponentially while the number of Black residents decreased? The answer is white, European, immigration. From 1880-1920, 20 million white Europeans immigrated to the U.S.A. That’s approximately twice the number of Blacks residing in the United States in 1920.

Due to white immigration, the African American percentage of the population plummeted. Like Native Americans, Blacks can make a stronger case that they’re the ones being replaced, not whites.

The 2020 U.S. census noted that whites make up 61.6% of the population (204 million). Native, Blacks, Asians and Hispanics represent 38.4% of the population (127 million). The decline of the white population in America is not due to them being replaced but rather natural circumstances (more elderly deaths, less births).

Instead of whipping up fear over a bogus “white replacement theory,” Republicans should embrace the multi-cultural nature of our country. From this reality we can forge ahead to build a better, inclusive, America.

Paul Guimond lives in Royalston.


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