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Census 2020 and Virginia's "Disappearing White Majority"

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

The 2020 Census is likely to show a Virginia that's very different than the one from a decade ago.

For years, people in Virginia have been talking about the disappearing white majority, a demographic shift of minority populations becoming the majority.

“I think that’s fuel for why you saw white supremacists talking about being replaced. But in reality it’s coming from intermarriage primarily, explains Hamilton Lombard at UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

He says the narrative of the disappearing white majority is misleading because fewer people are fitting into the narrow category of white alone, non-Hispanic. If you go by that metric, Barack Obama would not count as Black because he has a white mother.

"I think one thing that people should really try to get away from is a sort of zero-sum game view of majority and minority," he says. "I think it is going to require a bit of a mental shift in data users and the public when they look at race data to understand it because Virginia is very different than it was a few decades ago."

When the next round of Census data is released next year, he says he hopes people will focus on numbers from the section that talks about ethnicity of people who are two or more races, which shows a more-complete picture and belies the narrative of the disappearing white majority.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.