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In 2022, Rapide-Blanc Productions released the new film, “Greyland” — a documentary inspired by Justin Gest’s 2016 book, The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality. Directed by award-winning French-Canadian filmmaker Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque, the film won the Grand Jury Prize from the Blue Ridge Film Festival, Best Social and Cultural Feature at the Montauk Film Festival, and Best Documentary Prizes at the Red Cedar Film Festival and the Sound + Sight Festival in Ventura, California.

“Greyland” is the story of what was the fastest shrinking city in the United States: Youngstown, Ohio. Once the booming center of American steel, when the bottom fell out of the industry in the 1950s, 60 percent of the population moved out. Among those who remain today, most live beneath the poverty line. Like Rocco and Amber. A recovering heroin addict turned “urban archeologist,” Rocco hunts through hundreds of abandoned houses for vintage clothing, records, and artwork. Everything he finds goes to Greyland — his art gallery come thrift store — to be converted into cash. Amber is a single mother and the president of the Neighborhood Association of Homeowners, leading the fight against City Hall for their inaction in cleaning up her neighborhood. “We want to believe,” Amber says, “that there’s good, hopeful things coming.”

Through poetically apocalyptic imagery of a town taking its last breath, Greyland tells the story of two individuals’ resilience when everything has fallen apart around them. “You can try, but you’re not going to change it. All that trying just becomes part of the way it goes,” Rocco sings, echoing the struggles of a generation in limbo. Youngstown has been held up as a symbol of post-industrial decline not only in the United States, but in the modern world. And if it can happen in the land of opportunity, it can happen anywhere. Greyland follows Rocco and Amber’s search for meaning and hope in the midst of economic decline and a political landscape out of synch with the needs of its community. Should Rocco and Amber continue to fight for their city or flee like thousands before them? ¨Leave if you want to leave,” says Rocco, “but don’t turn it into something it’s not.” The question is, without change, can the community of Youngstown continue to satisfy anyone? What grows back on land burnt to the ground?


In Singapore, the regime uses meticulous administrative laws, immigration admissions, and public narratives to secure Chinese hegemony over a city-state that was a small, though important, part of the Malay Federation until August 9, 1965. Its majority-minority milestone happened overnight, when the island came under the control of a Chinese-origin head of state, Lee Kuan Yew, overseeing a large Chinese-ethnic majority.


Bahrain’s Royal Court and Sunni minority rule a predominantly Shia citizenry, but all are outnumbered by a mix of low-skilled guest workers recruited principally from South Asia and high-skilled Western and Arab expats—none of whom has access to Bahraini nationality and the generous state subsidies it guarantees. But the island country’s population imbalance—and social stability—has been shaken by the regime’s strategic naturalization of thousands of Sunni Arab immigrants recruited for its police and security services over the past two decades. (Photos by Unsplash.)

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago reached its majority-minority milestone around 1995, when the islands, long ruled by an Afro-Caribbean majority, elected their first Indian-origin prime minister, Basdeo Panday. The political parties have since been bitterly split into factions of predominantly African and Indian origin. Since then, every debate, no matter how small, has become a proxy battle in the existential struggle for racial and cultural preeminence on these southeastern Caribbean islands.


In Mauritius, parties are divided by religion and ethnicity. The Catholic African Creole population was the Indian Ocean island’s majority twice—once when Dutch colonizers abandoned Mauritius and left their slaves behind, and again when slavery was abolished in 1835. But the majority-minority milestone came three decades after the British Empire began importing indentured laborers from India, who took control with independence in 1968, leaving Creoles consumed by a nostalgic politics that seeks to reinstitute a sovereignty they never fully held.

New York

The state of New York, which controlled its immigration admissions and removals until US immigration laws were federalized in 1882, was subject to virulent ethnic politics after the arrival and enfranchisement of Irish Catholic migrants fleeing the Potato Famine. Its majority-minority milestone was postponed with the changing definitions of whiteness in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, but its politics were irreversibly altered when the weight of Irish bloc voting drove Democratic electoral victories in the 1840s.


The native population of the Hawaiian Kingdom was decimated by Western disease after contact was first made in 1778, and was outnumbered within a few decades of immigrants’ recruitment to sugar plantations established by American entrepreneurs after 1840. Before an 1893 coup by the United States, the native population contested foreigners’ power and landownership with a wave of nationalism that pressured the monarchy to pass laws that privileged the status of Native Hawaiians.

The New Minority

Once at the middle of British and American societies, white working class people have drifted to the margins and are transforming their countries’ politics. How did this happen? And what could possibly lead a group with such enduring numerical power to, in many instances, consider themselves a “minority” in the countries they once defined? The New Minority reports findings from original surveys and full-immersion fieldwork among the white working class people of once thriving industrial cities to draw impactful conclusions about their political behavior — namely, that the tension between the vestiges of white working class power and its perceived loss have produced the unique phenomenon of their radicalization.