Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Minority shift

Soon, there may be no ‘majority’ population in America.

September 23, 2000

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A recent news story received relatively little attention in newspapers in this part of the country, but it was extremely important and portends what is going to become a more frequent situation throughout the country.

The story reported, "minorities are now the majority of California's population." The news report added, "Experts say this demographic trend will become a national one in the next few decades as the population of the United State swells with the arrival of more immigrants and the birth of minority children."

According to California census reports, whites now total 49.9 percent of that state's 33.1 million residents. Latinos follow with 31.6 percent; Asians make up 11.4 percent; blacks, 6.7 percent and American Indians, less than 1 percent.

Various individuals will have varying reactions to this story positive and negative but the fact is, minorities are going to represent a growing percentage of this nation's population, and at some time, minorities may make up the majority of the U.S. population. At that time, it may be appropriate to ask just who is a "minority."

Latinos and Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of this country's minority population, with Asians also growing at a fast pace. Growth of the black population is not so fast. However, the black population grew at a faster rate in some states, including Minnesota where the growth was among the highest in the country. Likewise, in southwestern Minnesota, in Watonwan County, there is a higher percentage of Hispanics than in 57 counties in Texas.

Over the past 20 years, Minnesota's black population has nearly tripled, from 53,000 to 149,000, which was the fastest growth rate over that period of any U.S. state with a significant black population. Minnesota was second to Vermont's growth in black residents during this same period, but Vermont started the period with only about 1,000 blacks.

Whites have been the majority race in this country for centuries, but the scene is changing. The big question is how the white community will handle this significant shift and how some in current "minority" positions will handle their roles and responsibilities when they become members of the majority.

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