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August 24, 2008 - Ray Hall (Archive)
With Lou Dobb’s blood pressure at stratospheric levels and irrational screaming about illegal immigrants and building a wall to keep the Mexicans out of the United States I am reminded of a Buffalo Springfield song lyric: “it’s time we stop, hey what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down.” In case you haven’t noticed the United States is changing, and it is a painful recognition for some.

Demographers, scientists who study population, tell us that by the year 2039, four years earlier than expected, that the population of United States will reach 400 million and the percentage of whites will drop below 50 percent. Population scientists have even developed a name for the change, majority-minority. Studies show that at the end of last year 10 percent of our nation’s 3141 counties, 302 had already reached majority-minority status. Over the next several decades, scientists predict a sharp and unprecedented increase in racial and ethnic minorities, especially within the Latino population.

Immigration and higher birth rates among minorities seems to be driving the change. Nearly 60 percent of our population growth comes from natural population increase, more births than deaths. The remaining 40 percent of our population growth comes from immigration. The Census Bureau predicts when the United States reaches the 400 million mark blacks will account for 12 percent of the population or about what it was in 2006 when we reached 300 million. Asians will account for almost 30 percent of the population or more than double their 2006 numbers. Birthrates among whites have dropped and birth rates among the black population have reached a plateau.

Change and dramatic change is already underway. Despite persistent grumblings and efforts to make the United States an “English Only” enclave nearly everything appears written or spoken in English and Spanish. Fueled by capitalistic consumerism that practice infuriates many older generations, but it continues to expand into every aspect of life across the United States.

Dramatic changes are also occurring in areas not directly related to race or ethnicity. Populations are beginning to shift from the traditional population centers in the east—particularly that group born between 1946 and 1964—the baby boomers—to the south and west. Large families and even marriage is less important to newer generations and religion is less relevant today than it was to a generation once removed. Churches in Europe are nearly empty and the United States can’t claim to be a “church going” nation on Sunday mornings. That is borne out by the long lines of families waiting for breakfast or brunch at favorite eateries on Sunday morning almost anywhere in our country. Church attendance is down. Protestant religious groups have already experienced diminishing flocks, Mormons and Pentecostals are notable exceptions, but despite a congregational shift from the northeast the Catholic Church may be the biggest religious winner. Recognizing the importance of immigrants from Mexico the Catholic Church appointed the first ever cardinal in the state of Texas. There are those within the Church who would not be surprised to see a majority-minority of Catholic Bishops in the United States as Hispanic congregations continue to grow.

Going from a white nation to a brown nation is already underway despite the best efforts of those who want to round up illegal aliens and build a wall along our border with Mexico, but it will be a much easier change than many suppose. Those pesky scientists, the Demographers, tell us the younger age groups will reach majority-minority status before those in older age categories because of higher birth rates among the immigrants. Minorities are predicted to make up more than 50 percent of the population under age 18 by 2023, and 62 percent of all children by 2050. History shows us that succeeding generations more easily shed passions and prejudices of their forbearers and although the transition from white to tan may not be seamless America is rapidly becoming majority brown.

Despite protests from Lou Dobbs and all the tough sounding talk from self-appointed border guards and idiotic talk from members of Congress, the Mexicans are coming soon to a town where you live and somehow we’ll all be the better for it.


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