Friday, October 16, 2009

The Browning of America

When President Obama has a huge tent set up in front of the White House to host a concert of Latin American groups, it’s time to comment on the news that’s been trickling out: by 2050, the majority of Americans will be former minorities: that means blacks, Latinos and Asians.

In 1989, while writing a book that foresaw the reunification of Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I did the global math.   At that time there were approximately 1.4 billion Caucasians,  825 million Arabs and Persians, 600 African blacks and 2.4 billion Asians, for a total population of 5,1 billion.

Today, the figures for China and India are, respectively, 1.3 and 1,1 billion respectively, not including all the other Asian countries, such as Indonesia with a population of 300,000 and Japan with 127,000.  Brazil has the fifth largest population in the world, Indonesia being fourth.

The U.S. has only 307 billion, Russia has 141 billion and the European Union  a little less than 500 billion.  Counting Australia and New Zealand with 26 million together, that makes a total Caucasian population of less than 1 billion.  However you care to arrange the other colors on your mental map, it’s clear that Caucasians are what I call the absolute minority on the planet, which today has a population of about 6.7 billion.  That’s a little over one seventh.

When the majority of the population of the United States ceases to be Caucasian, in a few decades, we will still be relatively more Caucasian than the world taken as a whole.  This doesn’t mean that we will be better than the rest of the world.  It means that we will need to do a lot of mental catching up to situate ourselves as one seventh of a decidedly non-white world, which I like to think of as the color of honey in all its varieties.

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