It’s long been suspected that it would just be a matter of time before roles were reversed and white people found themselves the minority in this country. And while white Americans are still the majority of the population as a whole at over 63 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau just confirmed that the number of minority births topped white births, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent, respectively, making white newborns the minority for the first time in American history.
According to a New York Times article released today, the shift has much to do with the wave of immigration of recent years and the aging white population. The median age of whites is 42, while the median age of Latinos, for instance, is 27 — indicating the end of childbearing years on the one hand, and the near-prime childbearing years on the other.
The findings show that from 2000 to 2010, minorities were responsible for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth, which means that over the course of 10 years, whites contributed no more than 8 percent to America’s population.
In fact, the findings show that from 2000 to 2010, minorities were responsible for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth, which means that over the course of 10 years, whites contributed no more than 8 percent to America’s population. Even though I’m well aware that this shift was on the brink, I find these particular numbers staggering — mainly because there is such a gap. Are white people really not having that many babies? Are minorities actually reproducing this quickly? It makes no difference to me which race is or isn’t the majority in this country. In fact, I long for the days when the races are so blended that we’re all just a bunch of mutts; I personally think this country would be much better off without the inequities that stem from race … but that’s another post for another time on another site. So I took a closer look at the data to figure out how in the world these numbers could add up.
Yes, minority births account for more births than do white births. But the Census findings are guilty of doing something oh-so (and embarrassingly) American. Whites and Minorities. As if the only group that deserves to be recognized on its own is white people. Everyone else can get lumped together as “minorities.” By the article’s own admission, “Whites still represent the single largest share of all births, at 49.6 percent … while minorities — including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race — reached 50.4 percent.” Why does this country insist on throwing at least three entirely unique and separate races into one category, and why do our media outlets allow it to continue?
The message we send our children when we clump all the “others” together can lead to inadvertent prejudices. When we toss Hispanics and blacks in with Asians (or however you want to mix it up) without regard to the differences within these races, we immediately invalidate each specific race and chalk them all up to nothing more than “minorities.” And it becomes Us and Them. Yes, individually, each of these aforementioned races is technically a minority, which is why I guess we’ve been able to get away with lumping all of these distinctly unique races together for so long.
I think the more important lesson we can learn from the latest Census findings is that while the population shift is happening at rapid speed, our response as a country and the language we use to describe it are both slow and outdated. Our children will soon be in the minority of which our grandparents and media currently speak. I take no issue with that, with our children being the minority. I simply mention it to make you aware of how it is we speak as a society and how we generalize other minorities. Those “others” will soon be your own children. And they deserve more than to be systematically recognized simply as “minority.” They deserve individual recognition for who they are, just like our own children do.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make A Right