The United States is Diversifying, and People Are Talking About It. What Do People of Color Think of What They Hear?

Photo of team - From left: Linda Tropp (Psychological & Brain Sciences), Tatishe Nteta (Political Science), Seth Goldman (Communication).

From left: Linda Tropp (Psychological & Brain Sciences), Tatishe Nteta (Political Science), Seth Goldman (Communication).

The United States is undergoing a transformative diversification, and the media is awash with narratives about it. Yet the impact of these narratives on people of color remains underexplored. Join us in unpacking this critical perspective as we delve into the shifting dynamics of responses to rising diversity.

The United States is diversifying. 

According to the Census Bureau, fewer Americans are identifying solely as non-Hispanic White, while a growing number identify as Black, Latinx, Asian, or Multiracial. These racial projections have become major media events, as well as fodder for politicians, activists, and talking heads.

While previous research has examined a tendency within some media outlets to heighten racial fears among White Americans in response to increasing diversity, the perspectives of people of color on this discussion have been largely unexamined. That is what this research hopes to address.

This study takes advantage of two important Census Bureau reports on racial and ethnic diversity released in the summer of 2023: a June report containing new estimates of current levels, and an August update of future projections.

To measure change in how people of color respond to media narratives about rising diversity, our research will contain two elements, both conducted in separate waves before and after the release of the Census Bureau’s reports: first, we will document the different narratives of rising diversity by analyzing the content and quantity of media portrayals of the issue. Second, we will assess the impact of exposure to these narratives on public opinion using a large survey of approximately 5,000 Americans from across racial and ethnic groups.

The continuing diversification of the U.S. will define the future of its political and social system. Understanding the nature and impacts of public discourse on this issue is thus of critical importance.