Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Diversity Train Has Arrived

The United States is multi-cultural and ethnically diverse. So, you may ask, why is that news? It is news, in large measure, because nativists and the anti-immigrant lobby in particular, argue that we need to immediately shut our borders lest, we become multi-cultural and ethnically diverse. For better or worse, and I would vehemently argue for better, the U.S. is already a multi-cultural society. The horse, so to speak, has left the barn and closing the gate will not prevent what nativists fear most. The U.S. Census Bureau confirms that minorities now form a much larger part of the American population. As reported recently in the New York Times:

Foreshadowing the nation’s changing makeup, one in four American counties have passed or are approaching the tipping point where black, Hispanic and Asian children constitute a majority of the under-20 population, according to analyses of census figures released Thursday.

Racial and ethnic minorities now account for 43 percent of Americans under 20. Among people of all ages, minorities make up at least 40 percent of the population in more than one in six of the nation’s 3,141 counties.

The latest population changes by race, ethnicity and age, as of July 1, 2007, were generally marginal compared with the year before. But they confirm the breadth of the nation’s diversity, and suggest that minorities — now about a third of the population — might constitute a majority of all Americans even sooner than projected by census demographers, in 2050.

Reasons for this emerging diversity will, of course, cause much ink to be spilled, never mind the rancor that will be evinced. But one thing should be unequivocally clear: anyone who argues that immigration alone is causing this shift is quite simply howling at the wind. Nativists cannot speak of “our culture” as if they had some proprietary lock. I am reminded of Woody Guthrie’s song: “This Land is Your Land.”

This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York Island

From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters

This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling

The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling

The fog was lifting a voice come chanting

This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there

And that sign said - no tress passin'

But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!

Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple

Near the relief office - I see my people

And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'

If this land's still made for you and me.

Yes, indeed, some are grumblin’ and wonderin’ if this land’s still made for you and me.

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