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August 09, 2007 06:25 PM UTC

The Minority Majority

  • by: Colorado Pols

From The Denver Post:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that Denver has crossed a cultural threshold: Sometime between 2005 and 2006, white non-Spanish/ Latino/Hispanic residents became a minority.

Denver is the largest of eight counties nationwide to cross this line during that period, census officials said, based on population data collected over the past year that showed a continuing international influx.

In 2005, 49.8 percent of Denver’s population (558,667) was deemed minority, or non-white. Now, 50.01 percent of the population of 566,974 is non-white.


38 thoughts on “The Minority Majority

  1. One of the great things about America has been that the majority group (white Euro)was also the power group. i.e., ran for office, voted. Self, representative government.

    Historically, the Hispanic vote in the US has not really voted much differently than the majority white, just in lesser numbers.  But the Hispanic registered voter base has always been much smaller than the Euro voters, even in the SW. 

    So, unless something changes, even several generations down the road, we will have a political and voting block of Euros running the country despite a potentially larger group of Hispanic and other immigrants being larger.

    Not good for America.

    PS, I use Euro in preference to the narrow “Anglo.”  While technically it includes Spaniards, we have never had a significant block of Spanish immigrants. “White” has racist tones, so I minimize the use of that word, too.  Few say “brown” when referring to Hispanic.  In that spirit.

    1. along with inherited social connections, and perhaps inherited differences in socialization, have always contributed to the persistance of class in America, and will continue to do so. This gives non-hispanic caucasians an advantage of legacy, just as it gives those who were long oppressed the disadvantage of lack of legacy, both being a kind of class momentum (or inertia). But, since there are no legal, and few cultural barriers to the participation of “minorities” (with citizen status) in American wealth and power, this advantage of legacy becomes diluted with time, and will eventually disappear (it may take another century or more). In fact, minority status, all else being equal (which it rarely is), confers at present some legal and cultural advantages, so much so that I may recommend that my half-Mexican daughter drop the Anglo family name she inherited from me, and use her mother’s hispanic family name instead.

    2. Then the North European, now it’s Euro-Americans. The power group just keeps expanding as more join in.

      Don’t worry, it takes a couple of generations but over time everyone becomes part of the system.

      1. A British or German immigrant or descendant has a lot more in common with an Italian or Romanian than a Mexican or Chinese. In a sweep from Greenland to Russia, the racial, ethnic, and historical bonds (Bosnia excluded) are much tighter than south of the Pyrenees. 

        Four to six generations of mostly Mexican-Americans, and their culture is still very identifiable in places of long term residency.  Drop out of school, early pregnancies, heavy drinking, machismo, grown men having sex with 14 year olds, gangs, and on and on.  Think East L.A.. No real desire to assimilate, to go to college (it’s easier for the very poor than the middle class), to be different than the generation before. 

        I’ve come to believe that the big cultural divide in this world is, Enlightenment or non-Enlightenment?  The former is secular, forward looking, nationalist, objective.  The second is religious, traditional, family/kin/ethnic based, subjective. Residents of the non-Enlightenment states are trying their damndest to emmigrate to the Enlightenment states, by hook or by crook, to reap the benefits they see through modern media that those Dead White Men brought us. 

        But when they get here, many/most refuse to adapt.  That’s why we have such a clash of cultures. They want to continue to make arranged marriages to cousins, practice female genital mutilation, drink heavily, minimize education, or whatever their particular culture approves of.

        Make no mistake about it, cultures clash.  We read about it every day, even with a media that turns a blind eye to these matters.

        That’s how we humans are wired to think and react, by our dominant culture and sub-cultures.

        OK, I know some of you will be shooting this messenger, but I ask you to ask yourself, “What facts or observations are wrong?”

        1. There used to be a “gigantic divide” between English and Irish here. And many worries about how the newcomers would ruin our culture with their barbaric practices. This will work through.

          And how on earth did you get from Mexican immigrants (who by the way tend to work very hard) to genital mutilation?

          1. ..that they had far more in common than not. Nominally, the same language, a lot of the same culture due to geography, regardless of the English noses in the air.

            I never said anything about Mexican work ethic.  We both know how good it is.  The FGM issue I referred to is a cultural custom that has been brought to the US and Britain; i.e., they weren’t assimilating.

        2. There is both an inertia to the racial/ethnic constitution of classes, and a gradually diminuation of that inertia over time, resulting in eventual synthesis. Let’s let Parsing’s observations stand: They’re close enough for me. But now look at history…, ALL OF history. Historically, when the legal definition of citizenship (or elite membership) expands over time, the practical barriers to the erasure (and realignment) of class distinctions fades in consequence. Most elites throughout history were descended from peasants (and, before that, apes). Generally speaking, today’s knights were yesterday’s barbaric gang-bangers, consolidating and legitimating their ill-gotten gains. The Romans began with the Patrician/Plebian distinction, but by the time of Ceasar, as many plebians (often renamed equestrians -knights) as patricians were high nobles. I can go on and on, covering the world and the broad sweep of history (including relatively recent American history), repeating different versions of this story. The point is, once there is either an institutional/ideological redistribution of power, or a military (i.e., brute force) redistribution of power (or some combination of the two), the formerly disenfranchized do not remain disenfranchized indefinately, despite sometimes enduring aggravating lags between the redefinition and the realization.

          1. They have the right to vote, those that are citizens, and many are.  They have free public education, they can get scholarships to college.  The only thing that has changed in 150 years there is that there are more gangs. 

            To assimilate, the starting point is to want to.

            1. So San Francisco has a lot less sin and debauchery now than 150 years ago.

              Give it time. Assimilation is much slower than people expect over the short term and much faster than expected over the long term.

              And in the course of that our culture will evolve and will take on some of the concepts from the cultures the immigrants bring here. All the grown-ups (on both sides) will hate the merging while the kids will embrace it.

              And all of our kids will find it normal.

              1. chose to assimilate, coming here in 1913 and 1914 from Austria.  They spoke English well and were decedidly American middle class.  No German spoken at home.  My grandmother became a citizen. They did not hang out with their countrymen, instead setting their own businesses and homes.

                They chose.

                Maybe, someday, the East LA folks will assimilate, but if I were a betting man, I’d say “Not.”  Four to six generations mostly American born and they haven’t. 

                1. No wonder they wouldn’t speak German….people were beat up, property destroyed…this country went to war against the “Hun” in 1917….their so-called “choice” was to survive…..

                  I have read your posts for a long time…many times I have disagreed, but I always found you thoughtful, rational and kind….  This sudden diatribe against the “untermenchen”  or “so-called lower races” is troubling… Although, I realize your grandparents came from the same “kultur”  and time as Hitler….

                  Another bit of history, The American Indians, the African-Americans and the original Hispanics are not of the great immigration waves.  The American Indians were conquered. The African-Americans were enslaved and brought here by force. The Hispanics were colonized.  None of these peoples “choose” to come to America or “choose” to be Americans, originally.  The history of Hispanic people in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California is the history of people who for hundreds of years did NOT have a border with Mexico…there was no political barrier between the regions which are now those states and Mexico. 

                  My grandparents also hated the Germans and the Austrians; never learned English, did not become citizens, and gave five sons to to fight for this country…..and my peasant, potato faced  grandmother had one thing in common with her lace curtain Irish daughter-in-law…they both hated FDR. My mother because she thought it was too low class to be a democrat and my grandmother because FDR took her sons off to war….PR. That is the real story of America.

                  Maybe all that binds us together as Americans is  a common enemy….

                  1. …but my posting was about how some cultures have assimilated fast, others not at all, yet.  And that in my not so humble opinion, a lot of the difference is found along Enlightenment/not-Enlightened cultures.

                    And this has no reflection on the fact that I believe every individual is equal morally, has the ember of God within.  Doesn’t mean their culture works well or fits well with ours.

                    Dat’s all.

            2. are not identical concepts, nor is the relationship between them fixed and constant in all times and places. I don’t disagree with your observation about hispanic assimilation being slower and more reluctant than that of many previous immigrant ethnicities (though I disagree with your assessment that it is simply some form of mass choice that creates the difference: As with all social phenomena involving variation among groups comprised of very large numbers of people, the explanation is far more about circumstances than about the characteristics of the individuals involved. In this case, it is mostly about the proximity of the home base, and the easy communications with those who were left behind, combined with the sheer size of the demographic pattern, resulting in increased opportunity for socializing more or less exlusively with fellow expatriates). But many nations comprised of multiple distinct ethnicities have experienced shifts in the distribution of power among those ethnicities: One example that pops into my mind right off the bat is Belgium, where the French-speaking Belgians of the south used to dominate, and now the Flemish-speakers of the north have more power.

              Hispanic estadounidenses may or may not assimilate over time: My original comments did not address that issue, and I have no definitive prediction. But, given the historical record of all times and places, there seems to be an overwhelming tendency for power to diffuse to the less powerful over time once legal barriers have been removed. Name any historical king or emperor, or any historical aristocracy, and you will always find that a few generations earlier their ancestors were peasants or nomads. Later Roman emperors were born in mud huts in recently barbarian lands. And on and on.

              Obviously, this observation leaves many challenges for those of us who take an active interest in the human condition: Reducing the time involved in the transition from disenfranchized to enfranchized, avoiding the creation of a new disenfranchized class or the persistance of a residual disenfranchized class, and, in general, maximizing some balance of social efficiency (i.e., the production of wealth and opportunity) and social justice (i.e., the fair distribution of that wealth and opportunity), avoiding the pitfalls inherent in emphasizing one to the exclusion of the other.

        3. First of all, you don’t speak for me…..hear me well…..get your racist paws off my heritage…..Irish/EasternEuropean…..the only religion not represented in my family is protestantism.

            We hate the Russians and the British in that order.  Really hate.  You want alcoholism… can’t beat the Irish and the Russians. Gangs?  are you in upstate New York?  Cuidado with your wild remarks about Italians….I’m serious.  Of course, the IRA has died down.

            But your ethnic sweep is really about totalitarism …..And, of course, you absolutely ignored the real ethnic powerhouses: the Asians.  And as for enlightenment, most of those dead white  men were killed by their fellow white men,

          You cherrypick history. I presume that you are white, protestant male…(although, only god knows, literally, who the hell we all are here)…WPMs are a dying race and don’t know it because too long you only talked to each other…the cultural mirror…finally, the reason WPMs are dying out is because you can’t persuade your women to have your children….no wonder you are scared of the men whose women will bear their kids…That is it in a nutshell…so to speak.

            1. despite the poorly chosen phrase and somewhat distorted explanation of demographic reality that it represents, there is some truth in it: Birth rates for non-hispanic caucasians are lower than those for all other ethnicities (though that is rapidly changing: Hispanic birth rates are dramatically on the decline). That has real consequences in the world: The Catholic Church, for instance, will soon be dominated by sub-saharan Africans, first, and then by those latinos who have not already jumped ship for evangelical denominations. Europe, it’s place of origin and nominal home, is completely marginal at this point. This is due to ideological as well as demographic shifts, but both play a role, and will continue to play an increasingly salient role as things progress.

              1. …birthrate goes down.  Goes together like a horse and carriage.

                Obviously has nothing to do with hubby not convincing wifey to give it up, which is what he states.

                1. which is why I said “some truth,” that being the demographic fact to which he was alluding, not the silly explanation for it.

                  And, of course, the inverse relationship between income and fertility is just one among many, and so is not absolute: Holding income constant, some non-economic groups (religions, denominations, nationalities) tend to have more kids than others, so there are many cross-currents complicating the relationship between income and fertility.

        4. that you point out. I think each side needs to adopt a little from each other. But I dont think it is fair to say that Mexican-American culture is dropping out of school, getting pregnant, drunk, joining gangs etc.  Those tendencies pretty much run across the cultural divide, even amongst the “most enlightened”.

          There are tons of Mexican Americans who are model citizens and have been for generations

          1. First, let me agree with your last sentence.  I always try to acknowledge that.  But even some of the best immigrants for any country run into a cultural difference wall.  Like the Ethiopian man, recently, in GA that had his daughter mutilated because that’s what they do in his culture.

            Tina Griego, in her award winning objective Border Street series had a situation where a 21 (or more) year old man impregnated his 14 year old girlfriend.  This was reported by the hospital (where they got taxpayer funded care) to the police.  They arrested him.  His brother put up his house as collateral for bail.  Then they all returned to their village in Mexico, the brother losing the house.  Tina and a photographer traveled to the village to visit them and their families.  The overriding sense was, “What’s the big deal, we do it all the time.”

            Hard working people, but their culture followed them. 

            1. Genital mutilation and sex between 21 and 14 yr olds doesn’t fly here.  The people have spoken.  Relgious freedom, tolerance, and acceptance are supported by laws, but they are not without parameters.

              But with such diversity already existing, even if borders close tomorrow, the culture that followed should not be denied, except of course the most extreme cases. 

              Education is the silver bullet.  In the long term it will trump the initial cost of integrating non natives into our culture.

              We are not sweden or some country like it, where immigration was so heavily regulated. Ignoring differences between peoples is catasrophic, and costly.

              We can’t lean so hard on our immigrant population and deny them at them same time.

              1. Many of the crimes committed here that the immigrant community finds puzzling, is then defended with “That’s the way they do it, Mr. XYZ was just doing what his culture expected.”

                So……….. we should willing violate the Fourteenth Amendment?  Equal under the law doesn’t mean, “Yes, but….”

                Sweden, BTW, has almost no immigration.  Like its neighbor Finland, what little immigration there is is often due to marriage or business, not just open ended “Y’all come now, heah?”  And presumably, little to no illegal immigration.

                1. But I’m saying since the U.S. has embraced immigration to a large extent for various reasons for a long time now, we should accept what comes with it.  U.S law should prevail, but a little tolerance and acceptance goes a long way.

                  But I am curious. Where exactly do you stand on immigration?

                  1. Legal, illegal. Some true humanitarian. 

                    We need a breather to hopefully, assimilate the flood since the 70’s.  This is what happened after 1924. Labor was finally able to get paid a fair wage, people assimilated.  It will be a lot harder this time because most of the immigration for the last thirty years has been from countries with no, or little, democratic or Enlightenment traditions.

                    American has not always been a nation of immigrants, a continuous flow of folks from elsewhere.  We have turned it on and off as we deemed best.  Periods of immigration have been followed by periods of rest since the founding of our nation.

                    As to cutting some slack for law breakers in this country, that’s a slippery slope.  And why should an immigrant get more tolerance than myself?  Maybe amongst all the (tax) money spent by agencies doing the relocation, they might educate these folks?  The Aurora police has done so, apparently very successfully, with the African community there.  But why not before there are problems and tensions? 

                    “Welcome to America.  Here, it is NOT OK to marry your 14 year old cousin (mostly) or cut your daughter’s clitoris off.  Any questions?”  But no, we just dump them by the millions and expect instant proto-Americans.

                    1. You say a breather and give time to assimilate and I say  build an infrastrucutre to assimilate, especially since as you say, many immigrants these days come from countries much different than ours.

                      To be clear, I dont advocate bending the law or cutting some slack (of law) for immigrants.  The tolerance I prefer comes from the heart, and in business pracitces,  and also in not electing bigoted poliicians into political office. 

                    2. …is not being bigoted.  The latter, or the charge of racist, would be true if one had a disdain for the individuals as human beings.  I don’t.  But I don’t have to like cultural conflicts that their presence makes.

                      I can’t imagine what you mean by an infrastructure.  ESL classes are everywhere, but that’s just a start.  Only when there is some kind of a perceived crackdown on non-citizens do they suddenly start lining up to be naturalized.  They can do everything but vote, include join the military, so why bother seems to be an all to common attitude.

                      Assimilation takes both desire and time. And the more of the same group there is, the less impetus there is to assimilate.  When immigrants are few in a community, they assimilate.  When there are a lot, there reasons to assimilate dissappear.

                      There is no magic carpet ride. 

                    3. ESL yeah, but more needs to be done. Especially in business.  How many thousands, dare I say millions, of immirgrants receive salaries or paycheks with taxes deducted. Money most never see. You pointed out that lots of money is spent on immigrants, emergency health care, court proceedings etc. I agree.

                      I hail from California, used to own a restaurant. Had lots of Mexican employees. The indifference towards assimilation until a crackdown that you speak of is not cultural, its a reaction to being ignored, and in many cases, exploited. Though obviously their circumstances are still better than wherever they came from.

                      Immigrant labor is a valuable and irreplacable part of the U.S economy.  If this population is not assimilated properly and fairly, the minority that has become the majority will only pose more and larger conflicts to deal with.

                    4. …is not being bigoted.  The latter, or the charge of racist, would be true if one had a disdain for the individuals as human beings.  I don’t.  But I don’t have to like cultural conflicts that their presence makes.

                      I can’t imagine what you mean by an infrastructure.  ESL classes are everywhere, but that’s just a start.  Only when there is some kind of a perceived crackdown on non-citizens do they suddenly start lining up to be naturalized.  They can do everything but vote, include join the military, so why bother seems to be an all to common attitude.

                      Assimilation takes both desire and time. And the more of the same group there is, the less impetus there is to assimilate.  When immigrants are few in a community, they assimilate.  When there are a lot, there reasons to assimilate dissappear.

                      There is no magic carpet ride. 

    1. should not try to keep out guys who have z’s in their names

      because not so long ago Italians were the dirty swarthy criminals dragging america down.

      1. It is probably inextricably intertwined with most of the admirable qualities we attribute to human beings. Life is subtle and complex: You have to take the good with the bad (while always trying to shift the balance).

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