Sep 24 2012

Something is about to reshape our country

Published by at 9:56 am under Rainey

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

By July, 2050 – just about 38 years from today – 132.8 million Hispanics will be living in the good old U.S. of A. at which time they’ll make up more than 30% of the entire population. You can embrace that or – in some cases – fear that. But the Bureau of the Census says ‘twill be so.

In Northwest states – Idaho, Oregon, Washington – Hispanics are already the largest single minority group. That’s also the case in 22 other states from coast to coast. Each of the 50 saw major growth in the numbers from the 2000 census through 2010. In fact, at 52 million, Hispanics are the largest minority in the country. Period.
Couple these figures with growth in all other minorities and you’ll find we are living on the cusp of the largest racial and ethnic changes in our history – unless you count when the Pilgrims started pushing local Indians back from the Atlantic shore.

In fact, given officially projected growth in all minorities, the white, Anglo Saxon majority of today will no longer hold that distinction after 2050. We’ll be a nation of minorities with no single majority. Some minorities will be larger than others. But no single majority.

That’s never happened before. And you can already see signs this inevitable sea change of skin color and backgrounds is making some people fearful. Academics and others who study our national culture have been writing of this fear for some time. A few have posited that, because this nation has its first mixed-race president, racial appearance – and the too-often resulting prejudice – has contributed to the unreasonable hatred directed at him by some in our society.
It’s a fear, they say, fed by two major things. One is a feeling – true or not – that a white majority is being replaced in positions of authority. That some – used to being in the majority race and identifying with controlling events – are fearful of losing that power.

The other most cited factor deals with what people look like. Basically, their racial appearance. For example, until most immigrants to this country from Europe start to talk, no one usually considers that person to be in the minority he/she really is. They don’t look – well, different. But Asian or Black or Hispanic – that’s a difference that can be seen. And a difference that can often make some people uncomfortable.

Still, facts are facts. And the inevitability of this country not having a single racial majority in the near future is not open to question.

Let’s go back to the Hispanics. In 1968, President Johnson proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Week starting September 15th and Congress extended the observance to month-long in 1988. Doubtful many non-Hispanics gave it much thought at that time. Unless they had roots in Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

But now Hispanics make up about 19% of the total U.S. population. Their number increased by 43% from the 2000 census to the 2010 recount. California, alone, has an estimated 14.4 million Hispanics. More than 50% of all Hispanics live in just three states: California, Florida and Texas. And in South Carolina, the Hispanic population increased 147.9% in the years between those census takings. 147.9%!
There are lots of other rather startling findings by the Census Bureau folks. But the point is, how is this nation going to adjust to this remake of our society as we lose a single majority to become a nation of combined minorities? What affects will this new mash of cultures have on business, lifestyles, education, health care, entertainment, agriculture and on and on and on? What sorts of changes are we all going to have to make – or undergo – to accommodate the new realities? All of us? Each of us?

Maybe I don’t fully grasp the life-changing significance of all this because – to me – this is an exciting time to be right in the middle of this ethnic redesign of our country. Being someone with a Heinz 57 racial makeup, I’ve always admired those who have a more simple – more direct – ethnic heritage. One with its own music and history and dress and even language.

We have East Indian friends, for example, who have shared their culture, food and history with us. It’s been a fascinating experience. Years ago, I sponsored a Panamanian friend for U.S. citizenship and learned firsthand of his native language and national history. Beautiful! One of my daughters was married in a Buddhist ceremony and, again, we learned of another minority culture here in our midst.

They’d been near us for years but we gave it little or no thought until our family was drawn into their lives.

Exciting time? Fearful time? This new reality is going to affect each of us. I pray the experience will be more the former and less the latter.

And, one more thing. Living in this country at the moment are 1.2 million Hispanics or Latinos who are veterans of our military. Seems they didn’t have much fear of putting themselves on the line for their adopted country. We need to consider that, too.

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