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SPOTLIGHT
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White majority

Published on -12/14/2012, 9:21 AM

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It seems implausible to fathom the United States ever being anything but a white-dominant society. Particularly when one lives in Ellis County, which is 95.7 percent white according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even removing those with either Hispanic or Latino lineage and the county remains 91.3 percent white.

This isn't an anomaly in northwest Kansas. Russell County is 96.2 percent white. Trego is 98.0 percent. Gove, 98.3. Decatur, 97.6. Ness, 97.1. Wallace, 97 percent. Graham County sticks out like a melting pot with only 91.8 percent of its people white.

So when demographers point out the ongoing seachange shift nationwide that will result in white people not being the majority race by the year 2043, they might as well be speaking about another country.

If we think in such terms, however, we're doing no better than sticking our proverbial heads in the sand. The diversification taking place all around us surely will affect even the most isolated white pockets of America. The political, social and economic ramifications of a truly pluralistic nation will be huge -- and will be seen in most of our lifetimes. The non-Hispanic white population is expected to peak at 200 million in a mere 12 years, and then will begin a steady decline as the enormous Baby Boomer generation moves into its latter years.

By 2028, demographers expect racial and ethnic minorities to constitute the majority among young adults.

"Moving forward, the U.S. will become the first major post-industrial society in the world where minorities will be the majority," said Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, a global expert on immigration and dean of UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.

"The next half century marks key points in continuing trends -- the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority," said acting Census Bureau Director Thomas Mesenbourg.

The tipping point of whites no longer constituting the majority already has been passed in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and the District of Columbia. Across the country, more than 11 percent of counties have reached the same.

Trendlines for northwest Kansas likely won't see whites dropping below 50 percent for quite some time. And because of that, community leaders will need to encourage and lead educational efforts to prepare for a new reality. Federal laws that come from something other than a white male dominated governing body are sure to have a different perspective than what we're used to. Not any better or worse -- just different.

The region will need to be in step with the rest of the country even if it doesn't look the same. Social isolation is one thing; economic isolation is not sustainable.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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