As reported by Politico and other news outlets, according to Census reports for the first time in history, minority births outnumber those of white births. The significance is simple. More babies in Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other ethnic groups are now being born than White babies, and given the still-growing number of Hispanic immigrants, this is unlikely to ever be reversed. In a nation dominated by policies and social norms around “majority” (White) superculture, a few generations or less from now there will be no majority, or at least one that makes up over half of the population. This is already apparent in many border towns and cities where “white flight” has occurred and will be even more prominent. This news is a pretty important tick-mark on the timeline of the country, and will form the backbone of the still cultural, social, class, and racial tensions that grip this country and will lend themselves to the nation’s identity going forward. Will we continue our path of xenophobia and disrespect for those who don’t look, act or talk a certain way, or will we truly embrace the image of the cosmopolitan global leader of diversity and freedom as envisioned by many of the Founders? Are moments like Barack Obama’s presidential election heralds of the future or flashes in the pan?
Well, history doesn’t give us too pretty of a picture here. There have been times and places in the past within the US where similar demographic shifts have occurred, and they were most often met with fear and hatred. In South Carolina, and throughout many places the South, during slavery slaves often outnumbered Whites. In order to preserve their dominance, Whites created slave codes and many of the stereotypes and fears that pervade culture now, such as the stereotypes that Blacks were “lazy” and subhumun and also things like the “Mandingo” myth to create fear of Black men coupling with white women. These policies and fear tactics, rooted in many Church organizations, were designed specifically to keep Blacks from overtaking Whites and to keep the White nuclear family strong and fertile to keep the majority. After slavery, when free Blacks took major advances in controlling Southern states, the same types of codes and myths were spread to retake control from Blacks and ensure high white birth rates. And it worked. Throughout history, in times of social upheaval that threatened the White patriarchal power structure, Conservative groups (often allied with religious groups) fight back to maintain the status quo and usually win.
And look at today’s political and social climate. Look at the major currents that have moved from the fringe to the mainstream. It’s now within the realm of political correctness for folks on the Right to be as vehemently anti-minority, anti-foreigner, anti-gay, and anti-women’s rights as possible. That’s why Conservative donors urge people not to merely oppose Barack Obama; a Black, half-African President who is pro-gay marriage; but to HATE him, call him out, and disrespect him in ways few other Presidents have been. The new Conservative social agenda is pretty much staunchly against anything that doesn’t promote the propagation and success of the White nuclear family. They are anti-immigration and anti-minority (now using the “post-racial” view to support freezing in place or rolling back protections for minorities), and oppose minorities surpassing them either in numbers or power. They are anti-gay, in some backwards attempt to make their world more “straight” and encourage more heterosexual coupling and more power for heterosexual couples. They are anti-women’s rights, especially anti-birth control and anti-career advancement and liberation, because birth control lowers birth rates and because smarter, liberated women tend to have fewer children later and are more likely to eschew the nuclear family structure altogether.
Where does that leave us? In the wake of some of the most important demographic and social news we’ve seen (that has gone largely unreported), what will change? I hope we’ll live up to the true ideal of the country and the power structure will be balanced between all ethnic groups and true equality will be embraced. But if history is any indicator, we’re in for a hell of a fight. Things are getting bad with this election cycle, but look for politicians like Rick Santorum to be more of the rule rather than the exception in the next cycles, and look for Tea Party reactive ideology to replace Reaganism as the core of Conservative thought. There’s a good deal of folks that don’t want things to change, and as they grow more afraid so will their rhetoric increase in intensity and so will all of the “isms” that function as a part of their “otherphobia.” That’s really scary, isn’t it?