By the year 2043, white people are expected to become the minority in the US. Currently, in the under-5 age group, they already are. For ethnic minorities, who have historically faced prejudice and oppression in this country, this could have a major impact on how they define themselves and how they are seen by others. In my New York City school, the minorities are already the majority: nearly 50% of students are Hispanic, and nearly 20% are black. The remaining 30% is divided among a variety of other races: Asian, Indian, white, and others. This school is a small window into what Americans might look like in 30 years.
Between 1946-1964, just after World War II ended, there was a rapid increase in infants born. There were more babies born seven years after 1948 than in the previous 30. The majority of the 56 million babies born during this so-called “baby boom” were white; only 8 million were black. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “the total U.S. white population will begin an inexorable decline in absolute numbers, due to aging baby boomers.” As this generation ages and, eventually, passes away, the white race will cease to dominate America’s population. In addition, the babies of this generation are predominately born to parents of minority races. “In five years, minorities will make up more than half of children under 18,” according to the Census.
The simple fact is this: the white population is declining rapidly because more Caucasians are dying than are being born. The total number of children born into white families has decreased in the past decade by 4.3 million. Conversely, the total Hispanic and Asian populations have increased by 5.5 million in this same amount of time. The Hispanic population, in particular, has experienced a major boom, growing by 43% in the last decade, to become the largest minority population group in the United States.
Looking to the Future
When students at my school, even those born in the United States, are asked about their background, they generally respond with what they feel makes them “unique.” They’re not simply American: they’re Dominican, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, etc. Students in high school are often looking for ways to be different or to stand out. A common source of individuality is a person’s ethnic or racial background.
Living in New York City, one of the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the world may have altered students’ view of reality students as compared to rest of the world and country. In the US as of 2009, 58% of the 10-19 age group is white and only 19% is of Hispanic origin. However, a senior states, “It’s not unique to be Hispanic.” Statistics confirm this;
However, the fact that Hispanics are the majority at my school doesn’t mean students don’t continue to feel pride in their background, and feel it makes them special. Kacey, a sophomore of mixed Hispanic origin explained, “I’m proud of my background. I’m not going to flaunt it but I’m also not ashamed; I can’t really hide it either. The way I look makes it obvious of who I am but no matter what color I’m not going to hide my race.”
They also indicate that, just because New York City is so diverse, doesn’t mean race-based assumptions don’t continue to exist. Assumptions are made about people on a regular basis; just passing someone in the street, people often have opinionated thoughts pass through their heads based solely on appearance. Crespo stated that she has been discriminated against, “There is a stereotype for dangerous Hispanics, people look at me like I’m gonna steal something.”
Justin, a sophomore of Dominican origin, agreed, saying, “I’ve been called ghetto.” This, however, does nothing to diminish his pride. He also said, “I look Spanish but even if I looked white I would still tell people I’m Dominican. Just ‘cause you don’t look like you are a certain ethnic group doesn’t mean you aren’t.”
I have a different experience with being physically discriminated against. When people first see me, they always assume that I’m just white; in fact, I’m exactly half Dominican. However, it’s important for me to let people know where I come from because I have pride in my ethnic origins, and in my family’s history.
One of the reasons people continue to have pride in their heritage is because they have banded together when faced with discrimination. It’s possible that in a majority minority nation, eventually, this would lead to a change in how this is experienced, but it is too soon to tell.