In his recent Bloombergview article, Francis Wilkenson ridiculed conservatives for their distorted demographic perceptions. He wrote:
In June and July, Latino Decisions conducted a national poll for the Center for American Progress and PolicyLink. The poll’s sample was especially large — 2,943 adults, including 1,319 non-Hispanic whites. In one question, respondents were asked to give their “best guess” about the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. population…
Every racial group overestimated the size of the nonwhite population, which in reality is about 37 percent. “Asians had the most accurate estimates,” the survey report stated, “with respondents estimating an average of 43 percent — followed by whites with an average of 48 percent, Latinos with an average of 50 percent, and African Americans with an average of 53 percent.”…
On average, whites overestimated the nation’s minority population by 11 percentage points. Digging a little deeper, the poll showed that 59 percent of conservatives estimated the minority population at 41 percent or higher, with 33 percent of conservatives believing nonwhites account for more than half of the U.S. population, a demographic milestone that is still decades away.
Keep that figure in mind as you consider this result from the same poll report: “Sixty-one percent of white conservatives and 56 percent of whites ages 65 or older agree that discrimination against whites will increase due to rising diversity.”
So conservatives think the nation is already either majority or almost-majority nonwhite, and a majority of conservatives believes that they will be discriminated against as the nation becomes more nonwhite.
There was a time, before the days of television, billboards, movies and brochures, when peoples’ perception of reality was shaped by what they saw and heard in real life. Folks spent most of their time among their countrymen, working, socializing, worshiping and playing. It’s true that they were ignorant of foreign lands, but they were acutely aware of the goings on in their own villages and provinces. Medieval man might have believed that troglodytes inhabited far-away lands, and sea-monsters the waters, but he was an expert when it came to local matters.
Today, many people spend more time in front of the television than mingling among the locals. Furthermore, today’s cities are so populous that one cannot even rely on what he sees to gauge demographic trends; at any given time, all he’ll see is a specific subset of the population. So, while the modern city-dweller may not believe in sea-monsters or troglodytes, he can easily be fooled about his own immediate surroundings.
In my search for a particular item of clothing, a friend recommended my local Kohl’s. While I didn’t find what I was looking for at Kohl’s, I did notice a profusion of model images throughout the store. I have previously written about Target’s habit of under representing white people in its signage. Kohl’s is no different. Here are some images I snapped there.
I apologize for the poor image quality; the lighting was difficult and I used my cellphone. But, at least in the men’s section, very few whites are depicted. Blacks outnumber whites. Is Kohl’s trying to cater specifically to blacks? In the women’s section, the vast majority of images are of white, or Asian, models. It’s hard to see how this would benefit Kohl’s financially – but it’s easy to see the similarity to Target.
I don’t watch television, but I’ve viewed enough commercials (online) to know that non-whites are featured in numbers wildly out of proportion to their actual percentages of the population. Does Wilkenson have anything to say about this? I doubt it.
People like Wilkenson are responsible for the over representation of non-whites in the media, and in places like Target and Kohl’s. While they may not directly demand it, their attitudes (of promoting non-whites whenever possible) necessarily lead to such phenomena. It’s interesting that Wilkenson would ridicule people for perceptions that are a direct result of policies he promotes.