National Geographic Tackles Racial Myths, Interracial Marriage, and Looks Toward the Demographic Future of American Culture

National Geographic isn’t dead! It’s waking up. Latest issue looks at the misconceptions most have about race. In recent years, nearly 1 in 5 newlyweds in the U.S. married someone of a different ethnic/racial background. Twice the number that did in 1999. By 2035, it’s likely 1 in 3 newlyweds will.

When I was teaching U.S. history, the most striking population statistic I came across was the demographic change in U.S. population from 1965 to 2015.

According to Pew’s Research Data: In 1965, whites made up 84% of the U.S. population. Only 16 out of 100 Americans were not white. While the Civil Rights Movement was growing, African-Americans made up 11% of the population. That number has remained constant through the decades. Today, African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population. As you probably know, the fastest-growing populations since 1965 are not white or black, but everyone else. Meanwhile the white population decreased from 84% to 62% by 2015.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu has a great bit about population change, racism and the year 2042.

Rising Hispanic/Latino Population

The Hispanic/Latino population was only 4% in 1965. Today, it is 18%. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which breaks down the state populations by demographics, California is 39% Hispanic, which is now higher than the percentage of whites (38%). The majority of Americans hailing from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Mexico now live in the Southwest, West Coast, or Florida. But the population has risen into the teens in most northeastern states and Illinois. Many of the states in America’s South and Midwest still see single digit Hispanic/Latino populations. The rise of anti-Hispanic rhetoric in right-wing politics was an easy target in the under-educated, poverty-stricken South. Racism that has oppressed African-Americans for centuries spread further out over the last few decades. Spurred on by bigoted, fear-mongering right-wing media, the anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-modern American culture in general rhetoric grew.

Asian-American Population Growth

In 1965, Asian-Americans made up only 1% of the U.S. population. That number has grown to 6% nationally, rising up to 15% in California. With the influx of technology jobs and Chinese economic growth, California’s pockets of Asian immigration have grown dramatically.

Fifty Years

Though fifty years is a long time by our current standards, it is also a blip in terms of history. Seventy year-old folks like my parents were twenty in the 1960s. 1965 was less than two decades before the rise of MTV and cassettes. HBO wasn’t all that far away. In many ways, 1968 was the year that our culture points to as the turning point/chaos/changing of the guard. The Atlantic is doing a project on 1968, labeling it “The Rise of Modern America.”

America’s future is pluralistic and culturally open-minded, but not racially blind. The racists are aging, regardless of the ugly underbelly that has unveiled itself, empowered by a certain lunatic who stokes fear at any opportunity. While its true that race is socially constructed in theory, it is lived with in a very real way, and has increasingly been used to arbitrarily divide Americans.

The future of the left will be determined by how economic equality policies are informed by race and gender. We’re going to hear much more about the “working class” and not the “white working class” in the next few elections. By 2028, we may even have a third party, one that reflects a more authentic, more informed form of populism, rather than the Nativist version we are witnessing.

National Geographic’s latest issue examines race, the absence of a scientific basis for it, and the cultural impact on how people live.

From Pew:

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