America is transforming before our very eyes.
Babies born in 2011 are going to see a very different kind of America by the time they graduate college. Numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that more minority babies were born than white babies, creating a monumental change in the nation’s demographic.
The report, released last week, says that 50.4 percent of the nation’s population younger than age 1 were minorities as of July 2011. The number is up from 49.5 percent in the census taken in April 2010. The census classifies a person as a minority who is not single-race white and not Hispanic.
The population younger than age 5 was 49.7 percent minority in 2011, up from 49 percent in 2010. A population greater than 50 percent minority is considered “majority-minority.” There were 114 million minorities in 2011, or 36.6 percent of the U.S. population. In 2010, it stood at 36.1 percent.
The census counted five majority-minority states or equivalents in 2011: Hawaii with 77.1 percent; the District of Columbia, 64.7 percent; California, 60.3 percent; New Mexico, 59.8 percent; and Texas, 55.2 percent. No other state had a minority population greater than 46.4 percent of the total.
“Overall, Hispanics remain our country’s largest minority group, standing at 52 million, or 16.7 percent of the total population, in 2011,” said Alexa Jones-Puthoff, chief of the population estimates branch for the U.S. Census Bureau. “They also are our fastest growing, increasing by 3.1 percent since the census.”
African-Americans were the second largest minority group in the United States at 43.9 million in 2011. New York State had the largest Black population of any state as of July 2011, with 3.7 million. Other states and localities that had high populations of Blacks included D.C., Texas and Mississippi.
“These numbers are provided not only for the nation, but for all states and counties too. They indicate that there are now five states that are majority-minority, led by Hawaii, with a minority population of 77.1 percent. Furthermore, 348 counties have achieved this status, with nine crossing this threshold between 2010 and 2011,” said Jones-Puthoff.
However, news broke on Tuesday that the U.S. Census Bureau estimated an undercount when it came to people of color. In particular, 2.1 percent of the Black population was undercounted.
“While the overall coverage of the census was exemplary, the traditional hard-to-count groups, like renters, were counted less well,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “Because ethnic and racial minorities disproportionately live in hard-to-count circumstances, they too were undercounted relative to the majority population.”
A change in America means new responsibilities, according to civil rights experts, now that the so-called “2050 theory,” which estimates that people of color will greatly outnumber whites by that year, is becoming more true.
“The issue becomes that a mere demographic shift does not represent itself in political change,” said David R. Jones, president and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York. “The concentration of wealth remains in the hands of white voters, so we have some real challenges ahead. Our biggest challenge will be education.”
Jones pointed out that there is resistance from white voters who are not voting for educational policies that will benefit students of color. He also pointed out that many Blacks are not registered to vote. In the New York City Housing Authority, approximately 300,000 residents are not registered.
Even though minorities are growing overall, according to Jones, more involvement in politics is what will result in real change for communities of color. “Just because our numbers begin to grow does not mean political clout will flow behind it,” he said. “I think this should be a wake-up call. This is the beginning of major change in America.”
Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and VP for advocacy and policy, said the change in demographics has been recognized for some time and that institutions on all platforms are going to have to change to cater to the new America.
“The NAACP will have to look even more at the new diversity and recognize these shifts,” Shelton said. “We planned to address the issues we have stressed over the year, like health care education, housing and other institutional concerns that are a part of the landscape. Most of our institutions have been planned exclusively for a white population.”