The news: It's no secret that Republicans have trouble attracting minority voters.
It's anyone's guess as to why. Maybe it's their staunch opposition to any legislation that might, you know, help minorities — from marriage equality and reproductive rights to immigration reform and so on.
Either way, Stephen Colbert has a solution. Citing the New York Times' dubious claim that more Hispanics are identifying as "white," he concludes that the GOP should rock the vote by turning minorities into a group they've had no trouble attracting:
The result is a gem:
Brilliant: In Tuesday's episode, Colbert says he doesn't blame Hispanics for "voluntarily becoming white" in a recent census count:
"You see," he explains, "white people get to live in the best neighborhoods, get the best jobs, appropriate the best music. And I believe this proves being white is a choice — one I make every day."
He adds a grain of hope for all the struggling minorities out there: "I believe I speak for all white people when I say, 'Welcome, trans-Caucasians.'"
Colbert goes on to elaborate that he was born "cis-white," and has always been comfortable with his "birth race." But nevertheless, "there is room for all of you in the white community" — no matter who you are:
"As a nation, we cannot simply stop at Hispanics: The GOP is a tent big enough for anyone willing to call themselves white."
Asians, blacks, women — all are encouraged to claim whiteness, or white maleness in the latter case (especially since there's a "23% pay raise" involved).
The result is a win-win for all those involved: "[Once] everyone starts seeing themselves as white males," he concludes, "conservatives can appeal to them by pointing out that they are under attack from the people they used to be … 'Cause once everyone is white, there won't be anything to fight over."
Simple, right? Not so much.
Colbert's segment cleverly skewers the idea that assimilation guarantees acceptance, or more importantly, privilege. In truth, identity is far more complex than that, as anyone who's ever checked a census box can attest.
It's part of why Nate Cohn's New York Times article was so widely critiqued: Not only did he base his findings on unreleased data he hadn't read, his conclusions also failed to account for the lived experiences of actual Hispanics and Latinos — none of whom he consulted for insight.
Image Credit: Latino Rebels via New York Times
For starters, the idea that more Hispanics are claiming whiteness might stem from the fact that the census question changed from 2000 to 2010, as Colbert points out.
Image Credit: New York Times
Many critics were also bothered by the author's celebratory tone, which underlined his odd suggestions that becoming white might be good for Hispanics.
Some Latinos took to social media to express their disdain, using the hashtag #WhatLatinosLookLike:
But in the end, Colbert's segment humorously reminds us of one important fact: Racial identity is a crude and malleable force — one that confers privilege as deftly as it denies it.
Welcome to America.