So I'm not entirely sure what prompted this, but I think I've stumbled across something interesting (admittedly, I know very little about this subject). There's this idea that historically, America has been this diverse "Melting Pot" of different cultures (at least, this idea persists among the White majority – I wonder how other American groups view this idea?), but something made me ask myself, “If this is true, why does it feel like we have more racial tension and animosity than ever before? Why is there such a vigorous Immigration debate right now?" Maybe it's because we've never actually been a ‘Melting Pot.’ Looking at the data, America has always been far-and-away culturally ruled by one group of people, which is a takeaway that, on an individual level, isn't something that probably shocks too many of us.
For The First Time…
The point I’m trying to make is that I think it's only now, for the first time in American History, that we're approaching the very real possibility of the only American Majority that has ever existed (White people, specifically the older White male), no longer being the majority, or at least having their cultural influence and significance reduced considerably, which is probably the more important point to make. This feels like another "Transition Point" similar to other aspects in our society we’re seeing, such as rapidly-changing technology, employment arrangements, and socio-economic statuses. In an attempt to back this idea up with data (compiled from https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_dem…), I created the image below. Notice the historically significant change in the percentage of the White population from years 1970-1980 – a drop of 4.6%.
Never before has there been anywhere near that large of a drop in the percentage of American’s White population. The drop from 1990-2000 is even larger. It’ll be interesting to see what the 2020 census reveals.
We Can All Agree…
Now I think we can all agree that if there’s one thing humans as a whole hate, it’s change. People go to ridiculous lengths to avoid, or completely deny, that anything in their neat little packaged-up world is changing, especially if that change is felt to be negative. Like I’ve written about before, people simply want to feel safe, comfortable, accepted, and included in all aspects of their lives – financially, emotionally, socially, culturally. If this holds true, then it makes sense that there should be increased racial tensions at a time when our society and culture is changing to include more sources of diversity than ever before.
Slavery may have become outlawed on-the-books, but, aside from desegregation, never before have the majority of Americans had to face such a cultural shift in their own daily lives – from the media they consume (piped straight into their homes and smartphones), to the racial and ethnic makeup of their coworkers, to the “Political Correctness” one adheres to in polite society, no matter how much they WANT to “cut through all the politically-correct bullshit.” Even if this change is more “felt” by people, and isn’t really backed up by data, that “feeling” is really all that matters. It’s as if we’ve “talked the talk” about racism, tolerance, and inclusiveness, but we’re now being asked, more and more in our own daily lives, to “walk the walk.”
People are at heart emotional beings, who do not instinctively jump to cold logic and reason when assessing their opinions and viewpoints on nearly any subject
Shifting Demographics, Shifting Economics…
There’s a reason there’s so much conversation about how massively successful the new “Black Panther” movie has become – perhaps it’s because there is finally enough of an increase in the size of the Minority the movie features (or enough of a decrease of the Majority) to significantly sway the box-office numbers, proving that movies of this kind, that feature a predominately Black cast, are not only financially feasible, but are potentially untapped goldmines. This hints at another mainstay of our culture, for better or for worse – eventually, our society succumbs to changes that reflect the direction the money is flowing in (which is why some businesses' recent reluctance to donate to the NRA or stop the sale of some types of firearms and their accessories is important – but that’s another issue).
Anyway, bottom line seems to be this: the demographics of America are changing, or at least the perspective is that they’re changing, like never before, highlighting more differences and inequities throughout our culture that are becoming harder to ignore. It’s important for us all to remember that change is hard, and people are especially vulnerable to feeling as if they’re under personal attack when certain things in their neat, comfortable, packaged-up lives are modified in some way. Again, we all want the same things – to feel safe, comfortable, accepted, and included in all aspects of our lives – financially, emotionally, socially, culturally. Some groups feel they still have a long fight ahead of them to achieve these things. Other groups feel as if these things are in danger of being taken away from them. It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Also, become comfortable with change!