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Things changing? Si!

rainey BARRETT


In 1968, we started the tradition of honoring our Hispanic population with a National Hispanic Heritage Week. By 1989, that was officially expanded to National Hispanic Heritage Month – Sep. 15-Oct. 15 – which covers the anniversaries of independence in five Latin American Countries. If things keep growing the way they are, we’ll soon have a National Hispanic Heritage Year.

At this point, we’re going to talk statistics – something I hate to do. But all these numbers – taken from the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 reports – are not familiar to many of us. They should be. Because – more than any other single societal factor – they accurately depict the most profound changes of our ethnic makeup since this nation’s birth.

Jul. 1, 2010, 53 million Hispanics lived within our borders. Just over one million were added in the previous 12 months. That number was a little over half of all immigrants moving here in that period. Over half. And – as a percentage – that added more than two percent to the Hispanic community in one 12 month period.

At the rate things are going, America’s population in 2060 will include 128.8 million Hispanics – far and away our largest minority at that time. In fact, it already is today! Fact: the only world nation with more Hispanics than American right now is Mexico.

So, where do most live? Texas has 10 million while Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York have eight million each. Fact: More than 50 percent of the total number of Hispanics live in just three states: California, Florida and Texas. In New Mexico, 47 percent of the state’s total population is Hispanic. Of the 21 states where they’re the largest minority, you’ll find Oregon, Washington, Utah and Wyoming.

For the congressional bigots who are trying futilely to hold back this brown flood, some surprising news. The number of Hispanics living in poverty is going – down. The number of Hispanic businesses is going – wait for it – up.

Over three percent – or about 3.7 million – have at least a bachelor’s degree and another 1.2 million have a master’s, advanced professional or doctorate. Sort of shatters still another lie for Iowa’s Steve King and his racist claim Hispanics have “cantaloupe-sized ankles from carrying illegal drugs across the border.” The Census Bureau figures more than 14 percent of all grad and undergrad students now enrolled are Hispanic. And this one. Nearly 20 percent of Hispanics 16 years and older worked in management, business, science and the arts in 2010.

But one other statistic should strike terror in hearts of thinking Republicans. In 2010, Hispanics were seven percent of voters. In 2012, 8.4 percent. Just 24 months. And every institution that studies national trends is projecting not only more Hispanic immigration but higher and higher percentages of them voting from now on. It’s already begun.

At the moment, we’re saddled with a Congress that can’t decide whether the toilet paper goes over the roll or under. But, for reasons known only to the deadhead right-wingers who’ve clogged our democratic process, their repeated refusal to develop a workable immigration program – while many of their number backhand Hispanics and other minorities as intruders among us – is a great way to kill an entire political party.

Here’s another fact that escapes them. When someone like that idiot King doubles down on his racist rants against Hispanics, he’s being heard by the Black, Asian, Mideast, European and other immigrant groups. When he and his Republican cohorts in Washington trash any minority – while suffering no apparent political consequences for their outrageous actions – no disavowal – it’s not just Hispanics who notice. And remember. You total up the voting age population among all the immigrant groups who see firsthand the Republican Party’s seeming acceptance of King and his buddies, and the GOP will start the next national election in a deep, deep hole it can’t get out of. And the next. And the next. And the next.

The Census Bureau says the number of Hispanic business owners is now over two million. While that’s a healthy number all by itself, consider that it represents a 43.6 percent increase since 2002. 43.6! And the more than $350 billion in receipts they took in is an increase of 58 percent in the same period. 58%!

These are people who’re developing not only political clout but their own economic power. They’re taking a page from the Anglo’s and organizing both bases to increase their economic and voting importance. At the moment, thanks to King, Cruz, Lee and other flatulent GOP anti-immigration foes, all Democrats have to do is keep quiet, do some homework in precincts and stand at the polling box with arms wide open.

Again, I don’t like writing about statistical tables and miscellaneous numbers. But these are significant. These statistics are the best way to draw the new picture of who we are – of who we’re becoming. To ignore them is to ignore our future. And right now, a lot of people don’t seem to be paying much attention. They do so at their own – and their political party’s – peril.

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