Population 2043

An editor’s note from Ronald Brownstein on Next America’s newest project

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July 16, 2014, 10:38 a.m.

Amer­ica today is ex­per­i­en­cing the most kal­eido­scop­ic demo­graph­ic change since the Melt­ing Pot era more than a cen­tury ago. After an his­tor­ic wave of im­mig­ra­tion that began in 1965, minor­it­ies now com­prise nearly 40 per­cent of the over­all pop­u­la­tion and al­most half of the un­der-18 pop­u­la­tion. Re­cently, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pro­jec­ted that stu­dents of col­or will rep­res­ent a ma­jor­ity of all pub­lic school K-12 stu­dents na­tion­wide be­gin­ning this Septem­ber.

Di­versity is sim­ul­tan­eously deep­en­ing in cit­ies where it is already well-es­tab­lished—from New York City to Miami, and Hou­s­ton to Los Angeles—and bring­ing the great wave of im­mig­ra­tion in­to places that have not his­tor­ic­ally felt those cur­rents. From 2000 to 2010, the Census Bur­eau re­ports, His­pan­ics provided a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion growth in 18 states. Though smal­ler over­all, the Asi­an pop­u­la­tion shows sim­il­ar trends: it is bur­geon­ing not only in fa­mil­i­ar South­ern Cali­for­nia, but also in the com­munit­ies around In­di­ana­pol­is, Colum­bus (OH), Des Moines, and Min­neapol­is. In many places, these “new” minor­it­ies are join­ing es­tab­lished Afric­an-Amer­ic­an com­munit­ies to cre­ate an in­creas­ingly com­plex but also rich mo­sa­ic.

Both the deep­en­ing of di­versity in places where it is es­tab­lished, and its ar­rival in places where it is not, is cre­at­ing op­por­tun­it­ies and chal­lenges as com­munit­ies grapple with changes that im­mig­rants and oth­er new ar­rivals bring to neigh­bor­hoods, work­places, and schools. Few dy­nam­ics will shape Amer­ic­an life more in the years ahead than how our com­munit­ies ad­apt to this trans­form­a­tion.

In the com­ing months, the Next Amer­ica pro­ject will bring these his­tor­ic changes to life through a unique series of grass­roots re­ports ex­plor­ing how com­munit­ies around the U.S. are re­spond­ing to grow­ing di­versity and chan­ging demo­graph­ics. We call this re­port Pop­u­la­tion 2043. That refers to the year the Census Bur­eau pro­jects that the groups now con­sidered ra­cial and eth­nic minor­it­ies will con­sti­tute a ma­jor­ity of the Amer­ic­an pop­u­la­tion. But as these re­ports will make clear, when it comes to for­ging a new, di­verse Amer­ic­an iden­tity in our com­munit­ies large and small, the fu­ture is now. —Ron­ald Brown­stein, ed­it­or­i­al dir­ect­or, At­lantic Me­dia

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