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squirbel's avatar

Have you ever wondered how accurate the terms "majority" and "minorities" in politics really are?

Asked by squirbel (4277points) March 23rd, 2010

Referring to racial “majority”, and racial “minorities”. Aren’t there more of the minorities, than this so-called majority?

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10 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

What do you mean by “racial” majority/minority? My understanding of the terms majority and minority are the number of representatives from either party, regardless of race, sex, creed, religion, etc.. There are more democrats in the House and the Senate, so they are refered to as the ruling majority of each chamber.

squirbel's avatar

When counting persons for the census, and compiling data, “Whites” are known as the “majority”, whereas all other nationalities are known as “minorities”.

This theme repeats in education and various other population data mining.

laureth's avatar

There may well be more of the minorities all put together than there are of the majority, but comparing the majority to each smaller group is where we get that terminology. Also, clearly it’s US-centric, as there are obviously more Asians in Asia, etc.

squirbel's avatar

I disagree. I believe there are more people of Spanish descent than there are of [all of the ethnicities that are white-skinned].

njnyjobs's avatar

@squirbel Oh, I see what you’re trying to say. You’re reference to politics in the original question is a bit confusing. As @laureth touched on, the US Census counts the number of people representing a race and calculates it’s percentage value with reference to the whole census number.

So, if the outcome of the census is something like what has been projected for 2050:
Non-Hispanic whites 46%
Hispanics (of any race) 30%
African Americans 15%
Asian Americans 9%

then, Non-hspanic whites will still be considered majority over the Hispanics of any race, or over African Americans, or over Asian Americans, even though they become the minority if pitted against all non-whites. But you can not pool all non-whites and label them as major minorities because each race classification is a representation of its own.

As far as more people of Spanish descent is concerned, you need to realize that there are still a lot of Spanish descendants that consider themselves as whites because of the European or Caucasian stock exposure. You have to differentiate that from Hispanics as used in the census.

lonelydragon's avatar

Actually, the “majority/minority” designation isn’t based on numbers alone. If a group of people makes up a large percentage of the population, but they lack power, they are considered a political minority.

cbloom8's avatar

No, there isn’t (typically). When speaking in terms of both minorities and majorities, majorities are always 51% or more of the total. If there is enough minorities to form a larger group than the majority, there really isn’t a clear defined majority/minority. There will be a major gap (majority/minority) or very little of one (no distinction – separate, semi-equal parts).

njnyjobs's avatar

The wiki entry here provides various scenarios of majority/minority groupings . . from race, etnicity, age, religion, gender, diasbility . . .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_group

Arisztid's avatar

I am not certain what you mean by ” “majority” and “minorities” in politics” when you include the word “race” in it. Do you mean political power vis a vis race? If so @lonelydragon , I think, has that covered.

Regarding majority vs. minority, I thought that “majority” referred to whichever group composed of the populace. There are more than one ethnicity so the 51% number for the majority would not apply unless you are lumping all non whites into one group.

If you are considering the ethnic breakdown of a nation, that would be incorrect because there are so many non white ethnicities.

ETpro's avatar

Whites represent 75% of the racial population of America today—meaning all other races combined make up 25% of the population. So the term minority applied to any group other than whites in America today has crystal clear meaning, as does calling whites the Majority. That will not hold for long. At some point, we will become the largest plurality But as rapidly as we are intermarrying, the racial lines will become ever more fuzzy as we approach that point.

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