Friday, May 25, 2012

Hispanic majority not a surprise

The Point of No Return: A Majority Minority Future
By Hector Cordero-Guzman (May 25, 2012)

Hector Cordero GuzmanAs the U.S. Census Bureau released estimates suggesting that, as of July 1, 2011, 50.4 percent of the US population younger than age 1 were "minorities," discussions about what the numbers mean and the implications quickly spread. My main surprise when the report came out was that anyone was surprised at all.

The Census had already revealed that in April 1, 2010, 49.5 of the US population younger than age 1 were "minorities" (defined as anyone who is not single-race white non-Hispanic) so this is not a new trend. But, the fact that the 50% threshold (majority-minority) was crossed for the first time in 2011 suggested to many that a demographic point of no return had been reached. And, this trend will continue.

The report also found that the population younger than age 5 was 49.7 percent minority in 2011, up from 49.0 percent in 2010. This means that in the next year or so, a majority of the US population younger than 5 years of age will be "minority" children.

There were 114 million "minorities" in 2011, or 36.6 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics\Latinos are the most populous and fastest growing minority group in the US with 52 million persons in 2011. The Latino population grew by 3.1 percent since 2010. This increased the Hispanic\Latino share of the total population in the US from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 16.7 percent in 2011. African-Americans were the second largest minority group in the United States, at 43.9 million in 2011 (up 1.6 percent from 2010).

The growth of "minorities" in the US is mainly driven by increases in the Latino population. But, what drives Latino population growth?

First, Hispanics\Latinos have a younger population and age distribution when compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Close to 36% of non-Hispanic White women (or 36.3 million) were in the reproductive ages between 15 and 44 years old, while a much higher 47% of Latinas (or 11.8 million women) were in the 15 to 44 age group. Close to 6% of non-Hispanic White women were between the ages of 15-19 years old compared to 9% of total Latinas in that age group.

Second, Latinas are more likely to have children at younger ages and, third, they tend to have more children than non-Hispanic White women. The age-specific fertility rates for non-Hispanic Whites and Latinas are 23.5 for non-Hispanic Whites and 55.7 for Latinas ages 15-19; 74.9 for non-Hispanic Whites and 126.2 for Latinas ages 20-24; 105.8 for non-Hispanic Whites and 125.5 for Latinas ages 25-29; and 99.9 for non-Hispanic Whites and 96.7 for Latinas ages 30-34.

The highest reproductive ages for Latinas are between 20 to 24 years of age while for non-Hispanic Whites it is the 25 to 29 age group. Non-Hispanic White women ages 30 to 34 have a slightly higher fertility rate than Latinas (the only age group where Non-Hispanic Whites have a higher rate than Latinas). The end result of different age-specific fertility rates is that the total fertility rate for non-Hispanic White women was 58.7 while it was 80.3 for Latinas (and 66.6 for Non-Hispanic Blacks) and there are close to one million Latino births every year.

A younger age distribution, a higher proportion of women in reproductive ages, a tendency to have children at a younger age, and a higher fertility rate all mean that Hispanic population growth will continue at an accelerated pace independent of what happens with immigration.

In the last decade, for example, the Latino population grew by about 16.3 million persons with close to 9 million births and 7.3 million immigrants. In the current decade, the Latino population is expected to grow by 19 million persons with 11.3 million births and 7.7 million immigrants. By the decade around 2040s, the Latino population is expected to grow by 29.6 million persons or 19.3 million births and 10.3 million immigrants. In other words, even if we assume that immigration remains constant over the next 30 years, there will be close to 2 million Latinos added to the US population every year through births alone.

While Latino population growth is now driven mostly by births, immigration trends will have some impact on the future growth rate of the Latino population. Depending on the type of immigration assumptions made, the Latino population in the US by 2050 -- the year where a majority of the entire US population is anticipated to be "minority" -- is expected to be as much as 100 million, if we assume very little migration, close to 128 million under mid-level immigration assumptions, and as high as 159 million under high immigration assumptions.

The reality of a growing Latino population and of the fact that Latinos are an increasing proportion of the US population, should mean that more attention is paid to the population, possibly there will be some focus on issues that particularly impact Latinos, there may be a reduced sense of invisibility and, perhaps, an increased sense of power and relevance. But the fact that over time a majority of the US population will be made up of "minority groups" will not lead to positive changes in the lives of "minority communities" unless there is concerted action and a desire to change existing institutions.

The reality of a "majority-minority" world is already present in the lives of many urban youth and residents in many parts of the US. In fact, there were six majority-minority states or territories in 2011: Puerto Rico, Hawaii (77.1 percent minority), the District of Columbia (64.7 percent), California (60.3 percent), New Mexico (59.8 percent) and Texas (55.2 percent). No other state had a minority population greater than 46.4 percent of the total. And, over 11 percent (348) of the nation's 3,143 counties were majority-minority as of July 1, 2011.

In many of these majority-minority areas the economic and social problems of the Latino community not only continue but, in most cases, have existed for generations. The public school system in New York City, for example, is over 80% minority but the very existence of young men of color in the City is seen as a threat to "public safety" and questionable stop-and-frisk policies are justified as vital "crime prevention" strategies.

When we look at the leadership in Congress, other elected and appointed offices, the judiciary branch, universities, businesses, and the non-profit sector we do not see the demographic realities of the country well reflected and represented. Being a numeric minority creates significant challenges but becoming a numeric majority does not automatically solve them either. We need a concerted focus on education, access to training, improving employment opportunities, increasing wages, and building strong communities.

I hope the new population estimates released by the US Census Bureau can help bring increasing attention and a sense of urgency to the needs and challenges faced by the Latino community -- but, without policy change and concerted action, increases in numbers alone are not likely to lead to real, lasting, and positive social change.

The point of no return has been reached. There is no turning back. Demography is destiny. But the destiny has to be constructed and assembled. We can either build together and invest in an inclusive society or continue to head towards a more separated, segregated, unequal, and divided society where a minority continues to isolate itself from a growing majority of "minorities."

Héctor R. Cordero-Guzmán received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from The University of Chicago and is a Professor at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is also a Professor in the Ph.D. Programs in Sociology and in Urban Education at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School and University Center. Prior to joining The School of Public Affairs at CUNY, Dr. Cordero-Guzman was a Program Officer in the Economic Development and the Quality Employment Units of the Asset Building and Community Development Program at The Ford Foundation. He can be contacted at

Are Latinos still minorities?

Is it time for a term to replace 'minorities?'
By Leslie Berestein Rojas
KPCC 89.3 (Southern California Public Radio) (May 22, 2012)

Sometime in July 2010, non-Latino white babies in the United States ceased to be the majority of new births, with children born to black, Latino, Asian and other parents of color accounting for more than 50 percent of children younger than one last year.

And it begs the question: Do we keep calling these kids, and the racial and ethnic groups they belong to, "minorities?"

It's a conversation that's been brewing online since news of the historic demographic shift broke last week. One reader sent this tweet to me and another reporter who covered the story:

"As minority babies become majority, we can stop calling them 'minority babies.' Yes?"

Long before the latest census news, there's been back-and-forth over whether "minority" is still even relevant as groups considered minorities have grows in size and influence. In a follow-up last week, Rinku Sen of the social advocacy magazine ColorLines, who arrived in the U.S. as a child from India, wrote about the term "people of color" as a better, more empowering fit:

Nearly 30 years ago, I learned to think of myself as a person of color, and that shift changed my view of myself and my relationship to the people around me.

It is time for the entire nation, and our media in particular, to make the same move.

In a more obscure post on a Latino marketing website, Hugo Balta, who described himself as Peruvian American, wrote:

....when is the media, the government, the country going to stop using the word "minority" when speaking about Latinos?
There are more than 50+ million Latinos in the United States. Many of them (so large in numbers) are the majority in several cities/neighborhoods in this country.

True, but it's complicated. Latinos do comprise the majority population in several U.S. cities, including large ones like Miami, Florida and El Paso, Texas. And their children, combined with the children of other racial and ethnic groups, are a part of what is now a broad, multicultural majority that will one day constitute the working-age population of the United States.

But on their own, these different groups don't have majority status, let alone majority representation. In both government and the workplace, for example, all of these groups - black, Latino, Asian, and others - remain minorities.
Last week, Georgetown University linguistics professor Deborah Tannen spoke to KPCC's Madeleine Brand about how and why "minorities" is still used:

It's important to realize, first off, that words are never used according to their dictionary definition. They are used according to how other people use them. So I think the word "minority" has been used without any specific reference to numbers. It's almost a euphemism for groups of any identity - it could be ethnic, it could be something else, for example women. People sometimes would refer to (women) as a minority before they realized, wait a minute, women are a majority.

So the word "minority" really did never function with reference to specific numbers. So I think you might hear it being used even after the dictionary would say it no longer applies.

About Multi-American
In Southern California, generations of immigrants are creating a new fusion of cultures, expanding and evolving the definition of "American." Multi-American is your source for news, conversation and insight on this emerging regional and national identity. The site's curator is KPCC's Leslie Berestein Rojas, an award-winning journalist with several years' experience reporting on immigration issues.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Latino candidates being sacrificed by Democrats

How Democrats have abandoned their core

Rodolfo F. Acuña
By Rodolfo F. Acuña, May 4, 2012

The fitness exercise pilates, from my limited understanding of the exercise method, works on the principle of developing “a strong core or center (tones abdominals while strengthening the back), and improving coordination and balance.” The principle fascinates me because it can be applied to almost any endeavor.

For example, when San Jose State Chicano professors approached me in 1969 with a plan to start a Mexican American Studies program at the Master of Arts level, I responded that I did not believe that a MAS graduate program could grow without a solid undergraduate degree. My thinking was that “a strong core or center” had to be developed to allow for the coordination and balance of a large program.

The core’s abdominal muscles are the masses of students. The only programs that are subsidized in the higher education are those blessed by the institution. Logical persuasion would not develop a discipline or method to educate neglected sectors of society. You needed bodies to build the core.

I have applied this principle to politics. Unless you have bundles of money such as the case of Republicans and you can buy elections, Mexican Americans and Latinos are not going to bring about changes in the political arena. A strong core is essential for coordination and balance to leverage this outcome.

The building of the political core does not depend as much on individual political activism as it does on the core, which is not built by electing Latino elected officials. You can have progressive representatives such as Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva but his power, although concentrated at the core, can easily be isolated by the system.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, AZ

In many ways Grijalva is an aberration, elected in an island of Mexican American and white liberal constituents. Even so he has problems raising political capital and he has organized successful re-election campaigns despite the Democratic National Committee, whose main purpose is keeping control of the White House.

I learned this lesson in 1996. Two years before the presidential election, we organized a highly successful anti-187, the anti-immigrant proposition, march. This was the first time that over a hundred thousand Latinos took the streets of Los Angeles. It gave us a feeling of power and many activists wanted to replicate it in 1996 in opposition to Proposition 227, the anti-affirmative action ballot measure.

Word came down that what was important was to get Bill Clinton re-elected to the White House. The California Democratic Party then proceeded to dry up funds for the march, badly dividing community activists and Latino politicos.

We never recovered and it carried over to 1998 in the fight against 227, the proposition to eliminate bilingual education. The gigantic marches were not revived until the second half of the next decade when the core was re-energized by youth and immigrants who had been politicized by 187 and by sporadic school walkouts throughout the L.A. basin. Youth could not be channeled like community organizations and labor that looked to Latino politicos for leadership and funds.

Thus, the core never developed muscle or balance and it remained dependent of the political establishment and the media.

Based on my experience, I have found the core in Arizona worse off than California. The state has been kidnapped by the Republican Party, with the Democratic Party leaders concentrating on keeping the White House. The rationale is “things could really get bad if Romney gets in the White House,” which is true unless you figure that things are already bad and the White House is not doing anything about it.

The Arizona experience is a valuable case study. It explains why in Mississippi — where the black population numbers over a million and makes up 37 percent of the state — has only one black congressman out of four.

If the Democratic National Committee would have channeled funds into Mississippi and other Southern state with sizeable black populations undoubtedly the core would be stronger.

In Arizona where almost a third of the state is Latino, only two of eight congressmen are Mexican American. The Tucson Unified School District is upwards of 60 percent Latino but has two of five board members (really one) who are Latino.

You would think that there would be concern on the part National Democratic Party and that it would spearhead a restructuring of the Arizona Democratic Party to reflect its presumed progressive agenda versus that of Tea Party Republicans.

But it ain’t so. The strategy of the DNC has been to support Blue Dog Democrats who have sold out on the issues of the economy, immigration, and the struggle to save Mexican American Studies in Tucson. In the process, racism has become constitutional in Arizona.

The wrongheaded strategy of the past is repeated. Everything is justified if Barack Obama is re-elected. It doesn’t matter that he has been mute on the Minutemen assassination of nine-year-old Bresenia Flores and that his Justice Department has been mute about enforcing the U.S. Constitution vis-à-vis enforcement of desegregation orders. This, according to the DNC strategy, will be rectified by making the Arizona Democratic Party more conservative and even vote with Republicans.

According to this wrongheaded strategy, it will make Obama look more palatable to right wingers.

Consequently, the Democratic Party core in Arizona is so flabby that it stands for nothing. The failure to develop the political core of the Arizona Mexican American is glaring.
Wenona Baldenegro

Presently, a well-qualified and intelligent candidate is running for Arizona’s First Congressional District. Wenona Baldenegro is a Harvard-trained attorney. A Navajo with strong ties to the Native American and Mexican American communities, she represents the best in those groups. Instead of supporting Wenona, the national party is supporting a reactionary Blue Dog Democrat with Tea Party ties and is actively working to sabotage her candidacy by pressuring donors not to fund her campaign.

Another example of the weakening of the core is the federal courts appointment of special master Willis D. Hawley to oversee the controversy over HB 2281 and the elimination of the highly successful Mexican American Studies Program. Without a core Mexican Americans have been unable to check the coopting of Hawley who knows absolutely nothing about the education of Mexican American children.

I make this criticism only after of months of patient waiting. I did not want my biases toward multi-culturists to in anyway affect the outcome. Blame my Catholic school training and its belief in redemption.

However, my fifty years in academe have hardened my opinion toward multiculturalists who range from friendly touchy feely people to arrogant academics.

Some are good scholars. They want a better society. But, many think that they know more about what is good for minorities than minorities themselves.

I have had to fight them in committees because they failed to see the necessity for Chicanos to determine their own pedagogies. Consequently, they have undermined Chicana/o and African American Studies programs because they see no need for them to build their cores.

If you want a Chicano, African American, or an Asian American center, their solution is, let’s save money and throw you all into a multi-cultural center.

Self-determination is not a nationalist demand; it is the aspiration of every living person. Communities should determine their futures and the role of political parties is not to manipulate them but to strengthen them.

Perhaps if our political cores were stronger, the Democratic Party would not sell us out as in Arizona and other states.

With this said, like in the days of the Romans, we don’t have to worry. Our cores will get fat and flabby as we get free bread and circuses during Cinco de Mayo. People will celebrate it without knowing its historical message which was that Mexico was not open to foreign colonialism and that the separation of church and state was the law of the land.

B[p/dc]ut, this is too much exercise. Too much to think about. Let’s bring on the beer; enjoy the jarabe tapatio; and let the mariachis blare. Enjoy the smiling politicos and the Obamas talk about how Americans are exceptional.

Rodolfo F. Acuña