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Race by the Numbers Essay

In his article, “Race by the Numbers”, Orlando Patterson argued about the misinterpretation of the census results and that this misinformation is having negative effects on the perspective of the people. The misinterpreted part of the census, according to Patterson, was the idea that the population of the Whites is becoming the minority in many areas of the country. Thus, Patterson offered arguments and ideas to disprove the validity of the interpretation. However, the question is whether or not Patterson was able to persuade the readers, the citizens, that the interpretation of the census report was indeed incorrect.

Patterson’s article is full of information especially statistical and quantitative information that helped him in establishing ground for his arguments. Patterson statement that “48 percent of Hispanics classified themselves as solely white” (p. 83) adds to his persuasive argument that is also supported by the next sentence in the article, “Hispanics can be of any race” (p. 83). These statements clearly supported the fact that the total percentage of Whites in was decreased as interpreted by the census report.

Patterson also included studies that affirm his claim including recent census result. Patterson stated that, “whites will constitute 74. 8 percent of the total population in 2050, and that non-Hispanics will still be 52. 8 percent of the total” (p. 83) as indicated by the recent census. With such facts indicated in the article, it can be said that Patterson was able to build a strong evidence and supporting detains and information regarding his assertions. Thus, his argument, regarding the population of white Americans in the country, is a “gross distortion” (Patterson p.

83) is not a mere point of view but is supported by facts and relevant information. By establishing the facts and the arguments, it can be said that Patterson’s main purpose of writing the article was to show that the population of whites in America is still and will continue to be the majority; disproving the assumption that “non-Hispanic whites will cease to be the majority” (Patterson, p. 82). By doing so, Patterson aims to encourage the whites that they still are the majority and will continue to be. In this case, Patterson was able to do great job through his article.

However, Patterson also indicated in his article the idea that “each group in the new minority-majority country has longstanding grievances against whites”, thus, Patterson may also want to claim the invalidity of this assertion through his article. But in this case, was Patterson effective? Basing from the article, Patterson was really able to encourage the whites and take away the doubt that they will cease to be the majority. However, Patterson was not able to take away the idea that minority groups in America have grievances on whites.

On the contrary, it even points out another idea, that whites does not see minority groups as to be equal to them. Thus, instead of disproving the issue of minorities having grievances on whites, the article may even fuel the said issue. The article can trigger grievances against whites since the article establishes the idea that whites are and will continue to be the superior race in the country. Therefore, this may cause insecurity and rebellion against the white race since others may wish to see the downfall of a superior race. Patterson also included historical developments in regarding some issues such as the classification of races.

Patterson stated that, “In 1930 Mexicans were classified as a separate race by the Census Bureau – which reclassified them as white in 1940, after protests” (p. 84). Patterson also mentioned 2 other related issues in history. In this case, Patterson was able to convince the readers regarding the misclassification done that lead to the misinterpretation of the census result. Thus, Patterson once again established a ground for his ideas and arguments by nullifying the classification made by the census bureau on the issue of which races are to be included as whites.

As mentioned earlier, the author was able to establish the supporting facts about his claims. However, there are some instances that the author failed to mention relative and important information. Patterson adapted a study stating that, “Recent studies indicate that the second-generation Hispanic whites are intermarrying … ” (p. 83). However, Patterson did not mention what particular study reaches that conclusion. Therefore, readers in doubt of that particular argument have no means of verifying the claim.

Patterson should have indicated all the necessary information about the research to enable the readers to locate the particular study, otherwise doubts will remain doubts in the minds of the readers. Although the article has its strengths, i. e. the use of statistical information, the weakness of the article is readily available to the readers. The main weakness of the article was that the author, Mr. Patterson, was obviously one sided in writing the article. The bias can be seen from the very beginning of the article. Thus, this limits the trust of the readers and the integrity of the writer.

Showing personal biases is will really lead to doubts and disbeliefs of the author’s claim since the readers are aware that he or she is arguing for or against one side. Thus, in persuading the readers about a certain action or issue, one must show personal biases for this will weaken the arguments and the ideas presented by the author. In order to establish a ground proof about an argument, a writer must not show biases as much as possible. It would be better to show the different arguments of both side and show relative information, facts and evidences and let the readers decide which arguments weigh more basing from the given evidences.

All in all, Patterson did a great job in laying the arguments and he was able to fulfil his main objective, to encourage the whites. However, as mentioned earlier, the article has its own weaknesses as well. Thus, the article would only be effective if the reader is taking the same side as Patterson’s, otherwise, the article would seem very racist of which whites are considered incomparable to others. The validity of the claims is thus, very subjective on the personality and side that the readers will take.


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