Friday, May 20, 2011

U.S. demographic changes mapped

By way of PolicyLink:

The face of America is changing.

By 2042, the nation will be a majority people of color.

This decade, the majority of young people will be people of color.

From Southern California to rural Iowa, every corner of America is seeing these changes.

What does this map say about the future of America?

The map's publisher hopes for comments here. I'll add my own below, as a resident of a state where no community is a majority and a majority of young people have come from the various communities of color for several decades.
  • These developments can make white people anxious. While we retain an electoral majority, whites may use our ability to influence politicians to create structural barriers to majority rule by others. It's no accident that in California we've stymied state government, created an impossibly unwieldy tax framework, and traded schools for prisons. It's no accident we see Republicans trying to make it harder for people to vote through expanding identification laws. The other day, Newt Gingrich even suggested a poll tax, a tax to be paid in order to vote.
  • Forget the Republican Party as the new multi-ethnic society develops. Unless the GOP can stop being the party of xenophobia and racist reaction, it's not going to attract the votes of people of color, no matter how economically or socially conservative these communities may be. Very few people will vote for people who hate them.
  • These kind of demographic predictions hinge on an assumption that racial categories currently recognized will endure. But will they? Many Latinos very likely will gradually become "white," particularly if immigration reform enables people to regularize their legal status. That's probably the GOP's best shot at retaining relevance -- but its current base won't let them go there.
  • Speaking of categories, some "Asian-Americans" (whatever that broad category means) seem to slide unobtrusively into being "white" -- but will that hold as U.S. attention and anxieties come to focus on rising East and South Asian economies?
  • This emerging multi-racial, multi-cultural country is simply a more interesting environment than the monochrome United States some of us were born into!
How do you respond to the changing map? Comments welcome.

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