Archived Story

American demographics shifting

Published 7:07pm Friday, September 13, 2013

This week marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attack on America. Their mission was well planned and executed. The devastation and death surrounding the bombing of New York’s World Trade Center was analogous to the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The day that will live in infamy, as declared by America’s elected king, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Most of us were not alive nor do we remember that day. However, most of us vividly remember September 11, 2001.

Today, everything is recorded instantly by television or the internet. The stark reality of those kamikaze attacks is etched indelibly in our memories. It is the type of visceral memory that will stay with you forever. It is a day that you will always remember where you were when the news was delivered. In my case, it compares to the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

Probably like many of you, I thought that the first attack was an accident, a plane that went awry. However, when the second plane hit you knew that it was no accident.

We indeed live in a different world today than the one I grew up in during the 1950’s and 60’s. We also live in a different United States of America. Our nation has always been a melting pot. However, we are really a diverse pot of gumbo today.

My childhood was typical and exemplified the America of 60 years ago. I grew up on Maple Street in Troy, Alabama. Most folks were born and raised in small towns across America. We grew up in a Norman Rockwell world where we got up on summer mornings and played baseball in our front yards with our neighborhood friends. By the way, we had not locked our doors when we went to bed the night before. We were either white or black and we primarily went to Baptist or Methodist churches on Sunday.

Today’s demographical world more likely reveals a scenario where the average child born today is not sure of his ethnicity. If he is born in a metropolitan location, like New York or Los Angeles, when he walks out his front door on a summer morning, instead of curveballs he is dodging bullets from the neighborhood gangs.

Census figures reveal that last year for the first time ever Caucasians recorded more deaths than births. This statistic confirms the aging of the white population as well as lower birth rates than minorities. Whites currently make up 64% of the U.S. population. Demographers predict that by 2050, if current trends continue, whites might become the minority.

During just the past year, the United State’s population had a 3 percent growth in the Asian population. Hispanics grew 2.2 percent and now represent close to 17 percent of the U.S. population. Approximately one in six Americans is Hispanic. They are a larger part of the U.S. population than African Americans, which comprise 13 percent of America’s population. Blacks grew by only 1.3 percent last year. White growth was zero.

This reflects a common thread that has prevailed for several years. In the next few years, folks born during the 1930’s and World War II will turn 80. These people will be followed by the first baby boomers. Most of these Americans are white. Therefore, it is inevitable that the white population will continue to shrink in America.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, predicts that white retirees will be on the receiving end of an economy, which will be fueled largely by the efforts of Hispanics, African Americans and Asians. Frey sees the next few decades as almost an inversion of the 20th century when the white middle class was the engine of our economic growth.

In this century, the United States’ young people are from Mexico, Guatemala, China and India. These immigrants by and large will inherit America. They will be the ones who will be taking care of us baby boomers. This trend does not bode well for the Republican Party nationwide.

Steve Flowers served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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