Scary New World? Minority to Become Majority in 2040s

An older and more diverse nation by mid-century – Report released by the Census Bureau

minorities to overtake majority

What predictions can we make from a majority-ethnic minority population in the future?

More liberal politics? Increase tolerance of difference? An end to white privilege, institutionalized discrimination and racism?

IT tells us nothing. Women are the majority-minority and yet that fact is not reflected in electoral politics, the gender make-up of Fortune 500 CEOs or reimbursement of the ‘second-shift‘ for that matter. A sheer majority in numbers cannot make much of a difference without institutional power and/or support.

But it is clear that a majority-minority population cannot be ignored:

But the mere numbers require that Latinos move beyond low-wage and low-skilled jobs, said Mark Salling, a demographer at Cleveland State University.

“When they are a third of the population, you can’t ignore them,” Salling said. “I don’t care if they’re citizens or not, you can’t ignore them.”

The Center for Immigration Studies did not pass up an opportunity to use the projected figures to trump up their hue and cry over immigration:

“The point here is what does it mean for the quality of life, the quality of the environment – profound questions,” he said. “It’s not the weather – this isn’t happening because Americans are choosing to have large families. It’s happened primarily, not entirely, but largely because of a federal program, immigration – that is, the toleration of illegal immigration and very generous legal immigration.”

What they failed to mentioned is that the percentage of people that would require social security and medicaid in 2040 would necessitate a larger percentage of the working age population than currently projected. We either need to redo our health and pension plans, ensure that people don’t live past 64 or allow more legal immigration.

Assimilation makes you fat and other facts – Reject "Assimilation" Part 2

In the study, researchers examined information on more than 13,000 New Yorkers from all five of the city’s boroughs, who voluntarily had their height and weight measured. The data, collected at community-based health centers and hospitals  using this this body fat analyzer between January 2000 and December 2002, was used to calculate each person’s BMI.

For Hispanics, whether the neighborhood is largely English speaking or not is an important predictor of body size. The less English spoken in a neighborhood, the less weight gain occurs, according to researchers, whose findings appear in a recent issue of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

“Simply put: the longer an immigrant lives in the U.S., the heavier that immigrant becomes. Scholars theorize this weight gain as due, in part, to acculturation ­ the adoption of U.S. diet and physical activity habits,” said Park. “Although in the popular imagination, acculturation is thought to be a positive factor for immigrants, in many arenas of health, acculturation has been shown to have a negative effect.”

The new study supports earlier research that found that weight gain is most consistent and significant among Hispanic immigrants to the U.S., who face a particularly high risk of obesity and attendant health problems even when socioeconomic status is taken into consideration.

The link to the study can be found here. I wish journalists would clearly cite the actual source of study because oftentimes it takes a while to search and find it and only the most interested users bother to go to the source of information.

I can actually attest to this sparingly, since the study only seems to hold true among Hispanic immigrants and I am not. I gained about 40 pounds since I started residing in the United States without any changes to my height or level of physical activity. I have shed about 15 of those down to 115 in the past year after getting more health conscious, but the point is that Americans do consume foods with higher calories. And the more we “assimilate,” the more we tend to consume “American foods” on the go instead of ethnic, home-cooked meals which are generally and broadly-speaking, healthier. I don’t think the morale of the story is that we should hide out in our own ethnic enclaves–but that mirroring American consumerism and diet is the wrong way to go.

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Supporters of cultural assimilation beware–Encouraging and pushing for assimilation i.e. “English-only” can be contradictory. According to the research of Tomás Jiménez, an assistant professor of sociology at UC San Diego:

That efforts by opponents of illegal immigration to stamp out the ethnic identity of immigrants and their descendents, and to emphasize assimilation, backfire… Nonimmigrant Mexican-Americans who were already largely assimilated feel a closer connection to their Mexican identity when they see it as under attack.

“People who feel the country is fractured by ethnicity may be doing more than anyone to harden ethnic identity,” he said.

The study holds up when compared to conflict theory. When a minority culture faces attack from the dominant culture, it resists or pushes back.

While we are on the topic of assimilation and “illegal immigration,” is it not strange that the biggest proponents of assimilation are also the ones that prevent avenues for immigrant assimilation–Studies show that being undocumented is a barrier to assimilating.

As Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor explained in The Washington Post: “If you’re in the country illegally, a lot of the avenues of assimilation are cut off to you. There are a lot of jobs you can’t get, and you can’t become a citizen.”

Therefore, if we want our immigrants to assimilate, should we not ensure that they have the necessary institutional support to do so? Otherwise, it is ridiculous to expect migrant workers to speak American-English.

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One last note. Americans DO NOT speak English but a bastardized version of it. Over the past decade, my English has actually deteriorated. I used to be a spelling bee champion and nowadays I let the Firefox browser correct my spelling. Same goes for my grammar. It is not correct to say “Who are you going to the movies with?” but rather “With whom are you going to the cinema?” Besides the error of ending in prepositions, I use way more passive language than I used to — we used to be graded down for “passive usage.” Most Americans have no idea as to what that means! Anyway, I am no fan or supporter of any “pure language” theories so the deterioration of English does not bother me. What does bother me is this:

http://www.bradblog.com/Images/Protestor_EnglishOfficalLanguage.jpg

Lets learn to speak English first, eh?

Immigration Buzzword – Reject "Assimilation"

+++++I hail from the Fiji Islands; My favorite food is Chinese; I root for Italy and Juventus when it comes to football; I am disappointed when India loses a major cricket tournament; I love Pakistani music with Jal as my most favorite band; L-word star Jennifer Beals is my idol while I think Indian soapstar Anita Hassanandani is the most beautiful woman in the world; my best friend lives in Australia; ‘God Bless Fiji’ is the only national anthem I can recite, barely; the Bay Area is my home and Chicago is my favorite city. My likes and dislikes know neither borders nor boundaries+++++

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During my incredibly short time as a pro-migrant blogger, I have seen many articles on calls for new immigrants to assimilate, deriding the more recent wave of transnational identities, and studies that show immigrant assimilation rates, just to name a few.

From a personal perspective, as someone who was born and brought up in the Fiji Islands, I was taught that we must not expect or encourage “assimilation.” In fact, the word has negative connotations in my country of origin, helped by a social studies curriculum that puts plularism over assimilationist integration from an early age. So it is baffling to me, when “assimilation” is seen in a positive light in the United States, almost uncomfortable in fact. Assimilation is synonymous to losing cultural identity, which I find completely unacceptable, especially when it is touted as a prerequisite for U.S. citizenship.

Sociologist Robert Parks maintained that assimilation was inevitable in a democratic and industrial society after undergoing the “race relations cycle” (contact, conquest…assimilation, fusion). Park has been criticized for not giving a timeline as to when assimilation is complete. We have absolutely no way of ascertaining when assimilation has occurred if we go by Park’s theories.

On the other hand, Milton Gordon has a seven-part subprocesses of assimilation theory, going from cultural acculturation to structural assimilation (integration) to marital assimilation. By no means is this theory solid–individuals and groups can jump around the subprocesses and not follow it in any certain order.
Sociologists think that contemporary immigrants would undergo segmented assimilation. See this for more.

Unlike what Parks or Gordon let on, the process of assimilation in itself, is not LINEAR, which is a very important point to take into account. When different cultures inter-mingle, they borrow characteristics from one another–If the United States was a case of an “assimilationist society,” we would all have the traditional English breakfast of bacon and eggs and scones for snacks. But we enjoy our various ethnic foods, different dressing styles, and the ability to curse in several different languages.

We must seek PLURALISM not assimilation.

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http://www.apnaonline.ca/images/Edpic/notes/fiji2b.GIF

On this $2 note from Fiji that I carry around in my wallet, we can see from left to right: a young Muslim boy, an older Chinese man, an indigenous Fijian, a Rotuman woman–probably representative of other Pacific Islands as well, and an Indian woman.