Is the United States ready for what demographers predict will, in a generation, be a “majority minority” country?
Non-white births already outnumber white births, and by about 2045, the nation as a whole will have what some states and many cities already have: populations that are majority ethnic/non-white. Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and other cities are already there. California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas are as well. In fact, California and Texas are about 40 percent Hispanic, and both have sizeable Asian populations (the fastest-growing cohort in the country).
And yet, we are seeing a number of unfortunate trends—including anti-Asian violence, anti-Semitism, racism-infused demonstrations, race- and religion-based mass-killings, and hate speech—that raise doubts about whether our country will be able to accommodate the New Majority.
These trends are abetted by the rise of advocates of “replacement theory,” the view that non-whites disdain whites and seek to replace them. This kind of dangerous rhetoric was a hallmark of the previous presidential administration, and we all watched as it metastasized into violence (and threats of violence) against the FBI and law enforcement.
But the previous administration was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to radical polarization: in a recent New York Times article, Blake Hounshell spoke with the New Yorker’s Luke Mogelson about his new book The Storm Is Here and Mogelson’s theory that the rage exhibited by extremist groups “might be a response to feeling that their heritage was being taken away by racial minorities or immigrants.”
These anti-immigrant, anti-minority attitudes are not new. In 1921, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was quoted in a Good Housekeeping article as saying that the United States cannot be a refuge for “the vicious, the weak of body, the shiftless, or the improvident. . . . Our country must cease to be regarded as a dumping ground.”
Decades later, in 1990, one-time presidential aspirant Patrick Buchanan railed against immigration from non-white nations. “Does this First World nation wish to become a Third World country?” he asked in the New York Post.
And it’s not just politicians—in a 1992 lecture, the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington argued that cultural and religious differences will drive conflict both here in the US and abroad. Although he focused on international conflicts, in that lecture and a subsequent book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Huntington found ways to disparage American ethnics, particularly Hispanics.
This history—as well as the current climate—begs the question: will today’s majority accept the need to adapt to the imminent minority-majority reality?
Dallas-based demographer and pollster Edward Rincón, PhD, is moderately optimistic. “The new majority will eventually overcome the reluctance of the old majority to adapt,” he says. “It will do so by achieving higher levels of educational and economic success—to the point that the behaviors of today’s majority will become inconsequential.”
But that’s just one opinion. We are unaware of any large-scale studies on this issue, and so there are many questions to which we have no clear answers:
- Will those willing to resort to violence to oppose law enforcement be prepared to similarly oppose the inevitable non-white majority in local and statement government (and elsewhere)?
- Will the ever-increasing numbers of non-white corporate executives be welcomed and respected, or ridiculed and rejected?
- Will the media do more to report on the economic, social, and political impact of non-white communities and “majority minority” cities? And will that coverage do anything to mitigate the potential opposition to those groups?
- Is anyone analyzing America’s potential for greater global competitiveness as it sees an increase of business leaders with international connections, diverse skills, and multilingual abilities?
- How will the New Majority’s steady emergence in local and state offices be reported? And, more importantly, what will their expected ascendance in future elections spell for old majorities who have opposed their elevation?
Posing questions is clearly easier than finding answers. And that is because our society is focused on today’s challenges and has therefore not fully awakened to the inevitable challenges and realities we will face in future.
It’s time to change that. It’s time for analysts to examine these questions, to think, decipher, and report. Most importantly, it’s time for us to act—to find facts and begin casting aside faulty assumptions and bigotry in favor of greater integration and acceptance.
The New Majority is an undeniable reality. But there is a difference between knowing something is factually true and embracing it for all that it can mean and bring to our country. That crucial difference is what will make or break the United States in the years ahead.
Marcela Miguel Berland is the founder and president of New York City strategic communications firm Latin Insights and an adjunct professor at NYU. Frank Gómez is a retired senior career Foreign Service Officer and corporate executive and a partner at Latin Insights.