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Multiracial residents are changing the face of the US

Tim Henderson, on

Published in News & Features

Even in Wyoming, the state with the smallest numeric increase, the number of people identifying as more than one race more than doubled to about 21,300. That was driven by an increase in the population identifying as both white and American Indian, which grew by 157% between 2010 and 2020, to about 11,500.

Hawaii, where the percentage of people identifying as more than one race is the highest in the nation at 24%, saw the lowest percentage increase, about 10%. It’s the only state where three races — white, Asian and Native Hawaiian — is the most common multiracial identification. That category grew 16% to about 99,200. The number of people identifying as both Asian and Native Hawaiian grew by 4% during the decade to 75,300.

The largest percentage increase in multiracial residents was in Arkansas, up 180% to about 135,400 people. The largest number identified as white and American Indian. That category grew 261% to about 76,000, while people identifying themselves as both white and Black grew 114% to about 28,900.

Nationwide, the number of people identifying as solely non-Hispanic white declined by 5 million between 2010 and 2020, to nearly 192 million. But all people who identified as white and also Hispanic or some other race grew by 2%, or about 4 million, to 235 million, according to a Pew Research Center report. (The Pew Charitable Trusts funds the research center and Stateline.)

Most Americans say the declining share of non-Hispanic white people is neither good nor bad for society, according to a survey last August by the research center. But Alba’s book noted research that shows white people tend to show more hostility to minority groups and adopt more conservative positions after hearing white Americans are headed for minority status, though not all studies reached the same conclusion.

The most common multiracial group nationwide was white and American Indian or Alaska Native, which is also the most common multiracial group in 32 states, up from 15 in 2010.


In 2010, white and Black was the most common multiracial group nationally and in 29 states. The number of multiracial Americans identifying as white and Black grew by two-thirds to about 3 million, but the number of those identifying as white and American Indian grew faster, by 177% to nearly 4 million.

The increase in people who identify as white and American Indian was partly a result of better questions on census forms that provided more examples of tribes, but also more public curiosity and receptiveness to learning about mixed roots, Indigenous leaders say.

“The question is whether, in a few generations, race will become less significant in this society, as ethnicity did after World War II, or if this is a nation where race will continue to be an important issue,” said Reynolds Farley, an emeritus sociology professor at the University of Michigan.

For some people, identifying themselves as more than one race matters little if Americans tend to put people in either the “Black” or “white” categories. Former President Barack Obama, who has a white mother though he identifies as Black, has described being mistaken for a waiter or parking valet before he was famous.


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