Very often, we toss around the terms “black,” “Latina,” and “white” as if we all agree on what they mean. Yet a look at history shows that ideas about our nation’s racial categories – what they are and who fits into them – are always changing. And in particular, answers to the question “who’s white?” have never been simple.
In the early 20th century, for example, many of the country’s new immigrants to the U.S. were from Finland. They had blonde hair, blue eyes and light skin. But the Finns, who some today might consider the epitome of whiteness, were not considered “white” at the time.
In this episode, we explore the shifting ideas about who is considered “white” in America – how it’s changed, what it means, and how it may be changing still.
Guests include journalist Pilar Marrero; Gunther Peck, associate professor of history and public policy at Duke University; and Sarah Gaither, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.