Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Rise of Hispanics

One of my favorite things about Brazen Careerist is the wide variety of people there. With so many industries, interests, and ideas bouncing around, it is a constant source of inspiration and thinking, which we know I love.

Today, Rosetta Thurman wrote about the most young people today are Hispanic and that they will be the ones shaping this country in the future. She referenced new Pew Hispanic Center research from a national telephone survey.

The survey by itself is fascinating; I highly recommended you read at least the overview. I’ve always been interested in immigration, the immigrant experience, and cultural integration through the generations, so I was eating this stuff up this afternoon. Ever read White Teeth by Zadie Smith? I loved its treatment of the topic, and though it’s story takes place in the UK, the ideas are similar.

She also linked to an (excellent) post on her blog from February, which referenced a New York Times article reporting how updated Census Bureau projections indicate that “Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites” in 2042 instead of the earlier projection of 2050.

There is an interesting thread below the post about racial terminology. As I was writing the above paragraph, I wondered why all the categories are capitalized and refer to geographic origins expect black. Why not use African-American there instead? A big topic in the discussion on her blog was why, if minority isn’t the right descriptor and people of color is, why is white still the accepted way to refer to Anglo-Americans. I mean, white is also a color, right? And Asians are white, technically, but they are referred to geographically. At the same time, I don’t think it’s appropriate to call me Irish-American; my ancestors are from Ireland and I identify myself with that country, I suppose, but I’m much more American than Irish.

Although I absolutely agree with Thurman that minority has got to go, I think maybe, since everyone is an American, the solution lies in economic status. Poor, underserved, underprivileged, and at-risk are all pretty bad alternatives. I was reminded of my international studies courses as an undergrad when I learned third-world was archaic and developing was the appropriate, positive, term to use in its place. We need something like that for people.

The solution to racism is, of course, to make race irrelevant. I mean, white isn’t even my race. I’m Western European or Anglo-Saxon or something, right? As much pride I feel for my Irish ancestors, that distinction feels silly to me. Eventually, we ought to get to a place where everyone is proud of where they are from but have a much broader identify than just the region of the world where their ancestors were born. I know racism exists, but maybe to start bringing our society away from it, we could focus instead on helping everyone who’s hungry or homeless or stuck or uneducated.

What a feel good note to sign off for the holidays on!

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