Race and ethnicity are enduring features of social life in the United States. The basic question to be asked in this chapter is how the major racial and ethnic groups distribute themselves in Megalopolis. There are three problems in answering this question. The first involves the issue of data. Although the basic categorization of black and white has remained constant in the census since 1950 (and well before), questions about national identity have been asked only since 1970, and the identification of all people of Hispanic origin began only with the 1980 census. Race and ethnicity are as much social constructions as biological facts, and census categories often cloud an already complex issue. For example, ...

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