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White ethnic is a term used in United States sociology to refer to whites who are not of European Protestant background. They consist of a number of distinct groups, and within the United States make up approximately 9.4% of the population.
The term "white ethnic" almost always carried the connotation of being blue-collar, northeastern or Midwestern. The term generally refers to white immigrants and their descendants from Central, southern and eastern Europe.
White ethnic identities were thought to be the strongest in the late 19th and early 20th century (see Hyphenated American), but over time when white ethnics became more involved in community and later national politics (esp. from in the 1920s to 1950s), it demonstrated how the country was not strictly Anglo-Saxon and that white ethnics were an integral part of the national scene. Also a number of ethnic organization groups in the 1960s and 1970s were more vocal and supported promotion of the white ethnic cultures of the United States.
In the early 20th century, many white ethnics claimed to have been placed in a low socio-economic level, due to discrimination and ethnic stereotypes by the White Anglo Saxon Protestant or "WASP" elite. However, since the mid-20th century, most traditional white ethnic groups have ranked at the top of socio-economic indicators that suggest social status, such as income level, occupational status and level of educational attainment.
White ethnics (i.e. Italians, Russians, Poles, Greeks, Hungarians, Slovaks, French-Canadians, and Jews among them) experienced some levels of ethnocentric racism and xenophobia by the majority culture they lived among. Although in the USA the main racial divide was between light-skinned "White" and darker-skinned "Black" African Americans and so the European immigrants who became "white" ethnicities were absorbed, assimilated and integrated into the mainstream in a much faster rate.
- Marger, Martin N. (2008). Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives (8 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 282. ISBN 0-495-50436-X. "Religion is the most critical factor in separating white ethnics in American society. As Catholics and secondarily Jews ... they were immediately set apart from the Protestant majority at the time of their entrance and given a strongly negative reception."
- Marger, Martin N. (2008). Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives (8 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 281. ISBN 0-495-50436-X.
- Pacyga, Dominic A. (May, 1997). "Catholics, Race, and the American City". H-Net Reviews. Retrieved 16 December 2009.