May 20th, 2012
08:10 AM ET

Letters to the President #1217: 'Minority/majority'

Reporter's Note: It is fully possible that President Obama is tired of getting letters from me. But you never know; maybe they are the highlight of his day. So I continue writing…

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve been thinking this weekend about how the Census folks have announced yet another change in the makeup of the nation’s population; to wit: Slightly more babies are now being born to minorities than to white families.

Of course such headlines spur rampant speculation about when and where and how whites overall will become a minority in this country, and my usual answer after having studied the figures a good bit is: Not soon; maybe someday; and maybe never.

Here is my breakdown on that:

Not soon – Well, there are about 311 million people in the country, and about 200 million are white. As a practical matter, even though there are a few more minority babies being born, white communities are producing pretty much the same number. So like I said, even if this trend continues, it’s going to take a while before white are a minority.

Maybe someday – This trend is being primarily driven by Latino families. They tend to have more children than white families, at least at the moment. So if that continues, over time, they could indeed push the math to the point that whites, overall, become a minority. Btw, it is worth noting, that Latino or Hispanic are terms of heritage and identity…not of race…which sort of complicates things.

Maybe never – Things change. Just as white families have had fewer children in recent decades, other groups can do the same for all sorts of reasons that we may not be able to predict. White families might decide to have more kids, especially if the economy bounced back and they felt as if they safely and responsibly could. In other words, it is hardly a forgone conclusion that whites will one day be a minority in this country.

Does any of this matter? Yes and no. No, in that we all have to find ways to live together and prosper, no matter how is in the majority or minority, or the country is done for. And yes, in that…well, this is the way people are. We can all strive to be colorblind, and to be one big happy family of Americans…those are admirable and worthwhile goals…but we will certainly not all arrive at that point at the same time. And in the meantime, yes, people will be concerned about each change in the population; worried about whether their particular group will gain political, economic, or social clout..adn what it might mean to them, and their kids.

Trust you are having a nice Sunday. We took our kids and our exchange student from South Africa up to hang out in New York. What fun!


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