White Babies: The Newest Minority

BABY SHIFT: Is it time to rethink our concept of racial minorities?

Ding, ding, ding! The United States has hit a new demographic milestone. According to a May 17 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, slightly more than half (50.4 percent) of the population younger than one year old was “minority”as of July 1, 2011. In 2010, 49.5 percent of babies were members of a group the bureau describes as “other than non-Hispanic white alone.”

Overall, there were 114 million people of color in the U.S. in 2011. That is 36.6 percent of the population, a half-percent increase from 2010. Hispanics were the most populous group at 52 million; African-Americans were second at 43.9 million; there were 18.2 million Asians, 6.3 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, and 1.4 million Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders. Hawaii, the District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, and Texas were “majority-minority”  in 2011.

What People Are Saying About This Milestone

At CNN, Rinku Sen, publisher of Colorlines.com, argued that the milestone means it’s time to stop describing people of color as “minorities.” “The term ‘people of color’ has deep historical roots, not to be confused with the pejorative ‘colored people,'” Sen said. “‘People of color’ was first used in the French West Indies to indicate people of African descent who were not enslaved as “gens de couleur libre,” or ‘free people of color,’ and scholars have found references to the term in English dating back to the early 1800’s. American racial justice activists, influenced by Franz Fanon, picked up the term in the late 1970s and began to use it widely by the early 80s.”

At National Review, Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell said, “It means that minorities who traditionally vote overwhelmingly for Democrats can ensure that the country veers ever further to the left over the years, making America more like the welfare states of Europe, whose unsustainable spending led ultimately to financial crises and widespread riots.”

“When they grow up, all these little brown babies will be working hard to pay for the Medicare and Social Security benefits of a whole lot of old white people like me,”  wrote cartoonist David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times. “It might be a good idea, then, for us all to pay more attention to the quality of K-12 education these youngsters will be getting and make sure they are ready and able to access higher education.”  

At Slate, Brian Palmer provided a brief history of the federal government’s race classification systems. As to the current categories, he said they were designed in the 1970s to “track discrimination” and “officials from the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s racial-classification system, have always admitted that the categories have no scientific or anthropological basis.”

“Demography is not destiny,” Sowell concluded at National Review. But, he said, “Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is permeated with ideologies of group grievances and resentments, painting each group into the corner of its own separate subculture instead of drawing it into the mainstream of the American culture that made this the greatest nation on earth. Unless this fashionable balkanization is stopped, demography can become destiny — and a tragedy for all.”

Radio host Jay Smooth, meanwhile, advised white people to stop freaking out about the demographic shift at AnimalNewYork.com. I wonder what he would advise Sowell, who is black.

What do you think?

What does this demographic shift mean for the future?