The Colbert Report The Word – A Darker Shade of Pale
In this segment, the Comedy Central satirist pulled a quote from Liebler’s research:
“2.5 million Americans who said they were Hispanic and “some other race” in 2000…a decade later, told the census they were Hispanic and white.”
Of course, Colbert went on to explain his version of these findings, that Hispanics were voluntarily becoming white. Colbert points out that white people live in the best neighborhoods and get the best jobs, among other things. With that logic, the pundit suggests, why not “choose” to be white?
From a sociological perspective, he might have something there. Issues of identity are fluid and ever-changing in society. Looking at such a large change in the census data provokes questions as to why this variation in identity exists. In an interview with NPR, Liebler drew a parallel to her work studying Native American identity.
“Between 1960 and 1970, nearly a half-million more Americans identified themselves as Native American — a number that was too large to be explained by mere population growth, she said. Something else had to explain it.”
Liebler says there’s more work to be done to understand these changing numbers. In the meantime, though, sociologist-in-training Stephen Colbert wants everyone to know that anyone is welcome…to identify as white.