Welcome to the new off-White America.
A historic decline in the number of U.S. Whites and the fast growth of Latinos are blurring traditional Black-White color lines, testing the limits of civil rights laws and reshaping political alliances as ”Whiteness” begins to lose its numerical dominance.
The latest census data and polling from The Associated Press highlight the historic change in a nation in which non-Hispanic Whites will lose their majority in the next generation, somewhere around the year 2043.
Despite being a nation of immigrants, America’s tip to a White minority has never occurred in its 237-year history and will be a first among the world’s major post-industrial societies.
”The American experience has always been a story of color. In the 20th century it was a story of the Black-White line. In the 21st century we are moving into a new off-White moment,” says Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, a global expert on immigration and dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.
”Numerically, the U.S. is being transformed. The question now is whether our institutions are being transformed,” he said.
The numbers already demonstrate that being White is fading as a test of American-ness:
_ More U.S. babies are now born to minorities than Whites, a milestone reached last year.
_ More than 45 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade are minorities. The Census Bureau projects that in five years the number of non-White children will surpass 50 percent.
_ The District of Columbia, Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas have minority populations greater than 50 percent. By 2020, eight more states are projected to join the list: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and New York. Latinos already outnumber Whites in New Mexico; California will tip to a Latino plurality next year.
_ By 2039, racial and ethnic minorities will make up a majority of the U.S. working-age population, helping to support a disproportionately elderly White population through Social Security and other payroll taxes. More than 1 in 4 people ages 18-64 will be Latino.
_ The White population, now at 197.8 million, is projected to peak at 200 million in 2024, before entering a steady decline in absolute numbers. Currently 63 percent of the U.S. population, the White share is expected to drop below 50 percent by 2043, when racial and ethnic minorities will collectively become a U.S. majority. Hispanics will drive most of the minority growth, due mostly to high birth rates, jumping in share from 17 percent to 26 percent.
While growing diversity is often a step toward a post-racial U.S., sociologists caution that the politics of racial diversity could just as easily become more magnified.
A first-of-its-kind AP poll conducted in 2011 found that a slight majority of Whites expressed racial bias against Hispanics and that their attitudes were similar to or even greater than the bias they held toward Blacks. Hispanics also remained somewhat residentially segregated from Whites in lower-income neighborhoods, hurt in part by the disappearance of good-paying, mid-skill manufacturing jobs that helped White ethnics rise into the middle class during most of the 20th century.
(Photo courtesy of Associated Press)