Shifting Demographics: Census Shows Asians Fastest Growing Group, Whites Soon The Minority

Whites a minority? For some (younger) Americans, this is simply life as it is. For others, the shift inspires everything from discomfort to 'white rage.'  Image @OnlyConnectParke

Whites a minority? For some (younger) Americans, this is simply life as it is. For others, the shift inspires everything from discomfort to ‘white rage.’ Image @OnlyConnectParke

The election of Barack Obama was a seminal event for a myriad of reasons, but one must surely be the alarms it set off in the white supremacy movement. Since the day slaves were emancipated on June 19, 1865, white men and women who perceived that actuality as the harbinger of doom have been caterwauling about the inexorable decline of white power since. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which makes part of its mission statement the recording and categorizing of hate groups, counted up to 1,007 active hate groups in the country in 2012, many of them specifically white nationalist organizations, of which there are reportedly 62, per a May 11, 2013 Wikipedia accounting. In other words, the issue of pushing “whiteness” is big business, so the latest news from the Census Bureau is going to be a death knell of sorts to this crowd.

From The New York Times:

Deaths exceeded births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in at least a century, according to new census data, a benchmark that heralds profound demographic change.

In other words, whites are dying out at a rate that exceeds their number of births. For the above-mentioned groups, this is Armageddon; for everyone else, exactly what does it mean?

At the moment, not much. The disparity noted by the Census Bureau was miniscule, only about 12,000. But it’s a trend that is growing and statistically irreversible: the decrease of white births, on top of the fact that the majority of births are in the Hispanic, Asian and black populations, means white Americans will be a minority within about 30 years, with the overall number of non-Hispanic whites declining by the end of this decade. Which surprised a few people:

The disparity between deaths and births in the year that ended last July surprised experts. They expected that the aging white population would eventually shrink, as it has done in many European countries, but not for another decade or so.

Nationally, said Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, a research center based at the University of New Hampshire, “the onset of natural decrease between 2011 and 2012 was not anticipated.” He attributed the precipitous shift in part to the recession, adding that “the growing number of older non-Hispanic whites, which will accelerate rapidly as the baby boom ages, guarantees that non-Hispanic white natural decrease will be a significant part of the nation’s demographic future.” [Source]

For younger generation Americans, for whom mixed race relationships and ethnic integration are simply a way of life, this offers no particular concern. For older Americans, even those who do not necessarily identify themselves as separatists or white supremacists, the shift is uncomfortable, even enraging, a clear marker of changing demographics and a shift in the power structure.

In fact, it means the ethnic and racial mix of coming generations will no longer depend on older whites for the stability and expansion of the economy in which they live. Culturally, the country will instead be looking at younger minorities, mixed race Americans and immigrants for the growth and advancement of the economy, a significant change that will only continue to evolve.

Politically, it’s likely the shifting makeup of the population will impact a growing rejection of right-wing, fundamentalist views of the country and the policies that govern it. The paradigm of “old white men” who typically gravitate toward the Republican party will diminish as that demographic diminishes. Instead, the merging population will be more likely to embrace a multicultural perspective that leans left, or at least leans away from the rigidity and exclusionary mission of conservatives.

This shift is also being felt in more social and anecdotal ways – certainly in the world of pop culture – from the way companies advertise their products to the requirements made of companies casting commercials:

“It’s become harder for the blond-haired, blue-eyed commercial actor,” remarks Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, of the Hispanic marketing firm Enlace. “You read casting notices, and they like to cast people with brown hair because they could be Hispanic. The language of casting notices is pretty shocking because it’s so specific: ‘Brown hair, brown eyes, could look Hispanic.’ Or, as one notice put it: ‘Ethnically ambiguous.’”

“I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now—like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group. Imada and Newman-Carrasco are part of a movement within advertising, marketing, and communications firms to reimagine the profile of the typical American consumer.

“There’s a lot of fear and a lot of resentment,” Newman-Carrasco observes, describing the flak she caught after writing an article for a trade publication on the need for more-diverse hiring practices. “I got a response from a friend—he’s, like, a 60-something white male, and he’s been involved with multicultural recruiting,” she recalls. “And he said, ‘I really feel like the hunted. It’s a hard time to be a white man in America right now, because I feel like I’m being lumped in with all white males in America, and I’ve tried to do stuff, but it’s a tough time.’”

“I always tell the white men in the room, ‘We need you,’” Imada says. “We cannot talk about diversity and inclusion and engagement without you at the table. It’s okay to be white!

“But people are stressed out about it. ‘We used to be in control! We’re losing control!’” [Source]

And that appears to be the gist of it for many: losing control. The same was evident during the civil rights era, when the idea of ceding to a black man or woman to do anything a white had done, or could do, was anathema, whether taking a job, buying a house, or sitting in the front of the bus. Whites in this country have always been uncomfortable with sharing the space that exists culturally and as these census numbers continue to signify very real, irrevocable change in the ethnic make-up of America, for some that discomfort will increase exponentially. Navigating a world in which phrases like “post racial” and “multicultural landscape” are endemic, will be difficult for many, as that world will be seen as one in which nothing is “normal.” Yet what is “normal” is now evolving into something that will never again be “predominantly white.” The new normal.

The Census Bureau tells us the fastest growing population is Asian (grew by 2.9 percent), with Hispanics not far behind (grew by 2.2 percent); blacks at 1.3 percent. Whites… just 0.09 percent. Clearly the die is cast.

Which will cause everything from cultural stress to deep ethnic anger (see the hate groups mentioned above). Still others will roll with the changes, either accepting it as inevitable and embracing the change, or keeping to themselves and the traditional world in which they live (which, in some areas of the country, will feel little impact from these shifting numbers for a considerable amount of time).

And young people? This is simply the world into which they were born, the world in which they live, love, work; experience joy, success, disappointment, frustration, and the excitement felt in growing up and into their ethnically mixed, culturally diverse, and generationally understood post-racial society. There is no fear to it, only the reality of life as it exists. As their ranks grow, we will have different conversations in the years to come. They will not be about “white fear,” they will simply be about how people of every race and ethic background grew into the skin of their country.