The U.S. Is Already a Majority-Minority Nation


The New York Times reports that "ethnic and racial minorities will comprise a majority of the nation's population in a little more than a generation." But ethnic and racial minorities already comprise a majority of the nation's population. The current U.S. population is about 300 million. There are roughly 46 million Hispanic Americans, 40 million African Americans, 35 million Irish Americans, 16 million Italian Americans,  15 million Asian Americans, 10 million Polish Americans, 3 million Greek Americans, and 3 million Russian Americans. That's a majority right there, and I've left out a bunch of ethnic groups.

What the Times really means, of course, is that "Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites." We've become so accustomed to this arbitrary definition of "ethnic and racial minorities" that it's easy to lose sight of how bizarre it is. Is there a single objective criterion that unites these particular ethnic and racial minorities while distinguishing them from all the excluded groups? Is there any rational reason why a descendant of Spaniards, say, should count as a real minority, whether or not his ancestors spent time in Latin America, while a descendant of Italians does not? What is it, exactly, that makes Indians more ethnic than Albanians?

While some Americans view the arrival of the milestone heralded by the Times with horror, others see it as a sign of progress. I'd say obsessing about it one way or another indicates a lack of progress.