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.
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.