It’s Gone Way Beyond Taco Bowls

Sculpted Mariachi Band in Albuquerque’s Old Town

Whose America is it? Does it belong to those Scots-Irish who have lived in these United States for generations, or does it belong to the people who meet a different profile? There is no disputing the fact that our demographics are changing. And that seems to be causing a lot of pain among those who appear to be “left behind.”

Here’s a little summary from National Public Radio of what is happening to the racial composition of the U.S. as of 2017:

  • The Asian population grew by 3.0 percent to 21.4 million.
  • People who identified as being of two or more races grew by 3.0 percent to 8.5 million.
  • The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population grew by 2.1 percent to 1.5 million.
  • The Hispanic population (including all races) grew by 2.0 percent to 57.5 million.
  • The American Indian and Alaska Native population grew by 1.4 percent to 6.7 million.
  • The black or African-American population grew by 1.2 percent to 46.8 million.
  • The white population grew by 0.5 percent to 256.0 million.
  • The non-Hispanic white alone population grew by 5,000 people, remaining at 198.0 million.

Just take a quick look at that last item again. The non-Hispanic white population has grown by only 5,000 to 198,000,000. That represents a 0.25% growth rate. We casually tend to treat Hispanics as a separate race. According to the Bureau of the Census, Hispanics can classify themselves as White, Black (Cubans for example), Asian (some Filipinos for example), and American Indian (some Navajo for example). Now compare that measly 0.25% growth rate to all the other growth rates in the above table.

“I Love Hispanics” Says the President-Elect While Praising His Taco Bowl (?!) from the Trump Tower Grill

While our Presidente claims to love Hispanics, he probably only loves Devin Nunes and a handful of other of his supporters who happen to be Hispanic. All the rest of them are rapists or worse. Doesn’t he know that he represents what once was a strapping majority and is on its way to becoming a minority? That’s already happened to Los Angeles. What is Herr Trumpf going to do? Deport Asians, Blacks, and—Heaven forfend!—American Indians?

My guess is that there is going to be a reckoning at some point. What is happening to the United States is a throwback to the Know-Nothings of the 1840s who were so violently opposed to Irish immigration. Eventually, the Irish won; and even Trumpf accepts them as sort of, kind of white. The Republicans are holding on to power by the skin of their teeth, and due largely to outrageous gerrymandering.

Does racism have a future in America? I don’t think so. We all have a part to play in carrying on the American Dream.

By the way, what in blue blazes is a taco bowl?

The Doofus Factor

Three Male Teenagers Looking at Mobile Phone --- Image by © Ole Graf/Corbis

Three Male Teenagers Looking at Mobile Phone — Image by © Ole Graf/Corbis

For over twenty years, I worked as a specialist in census demographics. One of the most surprising things I learned during that time is that, whereas there are 26 boys born for every 25 girls, by the age of twenty-one, girls outnumber the boys. Why is that? The answer is very simple: There are a number of factors that disproportionately increase the mortality of teenage boys.

An article in the August 31, 2015 issue of The New Yorker entitled “The Terrible Teens” by Elizabeth Kolbert treats young men and women the same, but she does not account for the gender factor. Still, what she says is interesting:

Teen-agers are, as a rule, extremely healthy—healthier than younger children. But their death rate is much higher. The mortality rate for Americans between fifteen and nineteen years old is nearly twice what it is for those between the ages of one and four, and more than three times as high as for those ages five to fourteen. The leading cause of death among adolescents today is accidents; this is known as “the accident hump.”

Fortunately for them, girls are less likely to make stupid mistakes that end of killing them than boys are.

We tend to remember most vividly the experiences we had during those teen years, even if they were dumb. It has something to do with our pleasure centers being more intense at that point than later in life. In today’s news, for example, we hear of one of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s youthful stunts, namely putting his penis into the mouth of a dead pig while a student at Oxford. At least, he survived. But what about those teens who, upon getting extremely drunk, drive around town with a bunch of similarly affected teens and wind up in a gruesome wreck?

Kolbert continues:

Many recent innovations—cars, Ecstasy, iPhones, S.U.V.s, thirty racks [cases of beer], semi-automatic weapons—exacerbate the mismatch between teen-agers’ brains and their environment. Adolescents today face temptations that teens of earlier eras, not to mention primates or rodents, couldn’t have dreamed of. In a sense, they live in a world in which all the water bottles are spiked.

Sometimes I think the reason I survived is that I spent my entire adolescence suffering from a pituitary tumor that isolated me from more normal teens. By the time I was operated on at the age of twenty-one, I was mostly out of danger from the doofus factor.





Papa Bear Gets It Right

“Papa Bear” Bill O’Reilly

The nickname is from Stephen Colbert, who has occasionally had him on as a guest on his Comedy Central show. In all the media and political verbiage being flung back and forth yesterday, he made probably the most accurate statement of why Obama won last night: “It’s not a traditional America any more…. The White Establishment is now a minority.”

While O’Reilly meant that in the most rueful way possible, it’s what I have been saying for years. The whole Conservative political movement in the United States has been driven by aging Whites, many of whom feel disenfranchised and alienated. They tend to be either rich (a small minority of them), or small businessmen who made it big at one time and are now facing an attrition of their past gains, or poor and wanting to identify with the rich. In any case, they are not young. If they have any children, there’s no guarantee that their children are either numerous or politically in step with their parents.

Even though I am White, I am part of that new America that O’Reilly decries. I am not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP); nor am I Scotch-Irish; nor am I a member of any other demographic cohort that runs with the Right Wing. I am a White Hungarian Renegade Catholic (WHRC) with Black, Latino, and Asian sympathies.

When I used to work with census data at Urban Decision Systems some twenty years ago, I saw the handwriting on the wall for the White political establishment.

The Handwriting on the Wall

Over the next decade or so, most of the Tea Party recidivists will either die out or enter nursing homes. Those who remain will be increasingly irrelevant in the face of a demographic groundswell for those who had, until lately, been lumped together as “minorities.” In Los Angeles, it is the Whites who are in the minority. And, really, it’s not so bad as all that.

It has always been the fate of political establishments to be supplanted. Remember the Irish immigration of the 1830s and 1840s? Then it was the “Yellow Peril” when people feared being replaced by Chinese coolies who were brought in to work on the railroads. Then it was the turn of us Eastern Europeans later in the 19th and early 20th centuries as they arrived to escape political and religious persecution. Then it was the turn of the Mexicans.

Somehow, enough always remains of America to be worthwhile, even if there is a slightly darker shade of skin, an epicanthic fold about the eyes, or broken English. Hell, I didn’t even know the English language existed until I showed up in kindergarten. (That was just before the days of a TV set in every home.)

So yesterday I called it right. I thought Obama would win. And I think we all will win in the long run as a result. Don’t worry about me becoming an embittered Conservative complaining about the relentless tides of change. That’s what life is all about.