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Be careful when useing the word "Minorities"

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Posted:     Post subject: Be careful when useing the word "Minorities"


A Nation of Minorities: America in 2050,

America is facing the largest cultural shift in its history. Around the year 2050, whites will become a "minority." This is uncharted territory for this country, and this demographic change will affect everything. Alliances between the races are bound to shift. Political and social power will be re-apportioned. Our neighborhoods, our schools and workplaces, even racial categories themselves will be altered. Any massive social change is bound to bring uncertainty, even fear. But the worst crisis we face today is not in our cities or neighborhoods, but in our minds. We have grown up with a fixed idea of what and who America is, and how race relations in this nation work. We live by two assumptions: that "race" is a black and white issue, and, that America is a "white" society. Neither has ever been strictly true, and today these ideas are rapidly becoming obsolete.

Just examine the demographic trends. In 1950, America was nearly 85 percent non-Hispanic white. Today, this nation is 73 percent non-Hispanic white, 12 percent black, 11 percent Hispanic, 3 percent Asian and 1 percent Native American. (To put it another way, we're about three-quarters "white" and one-quarter "minority.") But America's racial composition is changing more rapidly than ever. The number of immigrants in America is the largest in any post-World War II period. Nearly one-tenth of the U.S. population is foreign born. Asian Americans, the fastest-growing group in America, have begun to come of age politically in California and the Pacific Northwest (where a Chinese American is governor of Washington State). And the Census projects that the Latino Americans will surpass blacks as the largest "minority" group by 2005.

Yet our idea of "Americanness" has always been linked with "whiteness," from tales of the Pilgrims forward. We still see the equation of white=American every day in movies and on television (where shows like "Mad About You," set in majority-"minority" New York, have no nonwhite main characters). We witness it in the making of social policy. (The U.S. Senate is only 4 percent nonwhite--though over 20 percent of the country is.) We make casual assumptions about who belongs in this society and who is an outsider. (Just ask the countless American-born Asians and Latinos who've been complimented on how well they speak English.)

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