Friday, August 15, 2008

Who's counting?

By 2042 everybody in the United States can claim to be a minority, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Depending on how you define it. Isn't this getting ridiculous?

As a country, we're obsessed with race. We get misleading reporting like White Americans no longer a majority by 2042 -- I assume that's a headline the Associated Press recommended because the Saipan Tribune used it too.

That should sell some Tums and make white immigration foes froth at the mouth, but it's misleading. Actually no, it's wrong. Try this (not attributed) from the New York Times story on the report:
"The share of Americans who identify themselves as white, regardless of their ethnicity, will remain largely unchanged, declining from less than 80 percent in 2010 to about 76 percent when the majority-minority benchmark is reached in 2042."

What's going on? Well, the headline's true if you don't count Hispanics. I don't know if 'Hispanics' includes Brazilians. A Portugee would be miffed by that like an Australian listed as English. Oh, and I think North Africans are still white this year. From India? Well you used to be Caucasian, but I think that definition changed.

The statistics are useful for policy wonks, and essential for politicians. They're potentially harmful when the AP and other media misuse them.

Immigration? Well, according to the Times (again not attributed) "The main reason for the accelerating change is significantly higher birthrates among immigrants." To me, that's not too worrisome. I've been in a lot of second and third-generation American homes that make the Cleaver and Huxtable families look like radicals. Also, worldwide, birthrates generally drop with rising income.

But what about all of those gangs in our inner cities? You know, Asians, Latinos, the Gangs of New York... Wait, we're in the wrong century with that last one.

There's too much emphasis on race and not enough attention on class. That sounds Marxist, I know; they've made the concept radioactive. Poor people band together to get their share of a very small piece of the American Pie. To quote George Bush, we've got to "make the pie higher" so 'minorities' aren't at each others' throats.

I am concerned about this: "With the Census Bureau forecasting even more immigrants, other demographers estimate that the proportion of foreign-born Americans, now about 12 percent, could surpass the 1910 historic high of nearly 15 percent by about 2025 and may approach 20 percent in 2050." I don't know if there's a point at which assimilation breaks down and I'm not eager to have honor killings and female circumcision become part of our culture.

Ah, well. This is probably a minority opinion.


Lil' Hammerhead said...

They have odd and end discussions about this on Fauxnews.. but about three weeks ago, some of their morning-show people (I refuse to call them news-people, or journalists, or anchors).. so some of their morning-show people were having this very very xenophobia-tinged on-air "conversation" about what America will be like with "all this immigration". "Will we have to learn Spanish?", "Just imagine what hometown America will look like". They were playing on fears of the "ghettoization" of America (sorry..fictional word). They were eluding to all kinds of nasty stuff. I couldn't believe it.. and boy, it was disgusting. I think it was Steve "Closet-Gay" Doocy and crew.

KAP said...

I forget which Latino comic has this pat answer to 'But where did you come from before you were a U.S. citizen?'


Saipan Writer said...

Okay, I've seen "eluding to" something twice in as many days. The word is "alluding" to whatever.

Ken, I think your two last points are the most interesting. I agree that class (or economic, if that's more palatable) differences play a huge role in the problems American society faces.

And I don't think it's xenophobic to worry about political and social acclimatization/ assimilation of the foreign-born. Look what's happened in Europe with the breakdown in democratic-thinking and the move toward theocratic thinking.

(We have some American-born who would like a theocracy, too-Christian fundamentalism is as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism, in my minority view, too.)

Lil' Hammerhead said...

Thank you Jane! :}

Lil' Hammerhead said...

I think it boils down to concern about a loss of power. The concern isn't about fundamentalist Muslims taking over.. it's about African Americans, Asians and Latinos becoming the majority. The larger percentage of these current minorities being citizens, or free-thinking, commerce driven people (like us).