Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Non-Latinos willing to work with Latino soon-to-be-majority

It’s what passes for local news in the South Texas town of Corpus Christi, although it actually is a sign of progress for our society as a whole.

For it seems that the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce picked a new member for its executive committee, and that member is not a Latino.

ACTUALLY, HE’S A white guy. His name is Chad Magill, and the Caller Times newspaper of Corpus Christi reports that his qualifications include being the director of the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – a position he has held for the past two years.

Now what is so significant about this? To me, it is the sight of a business-oriented person who sees the changing demographic, particularly of his home region (CNN’s John King recently said on-air that there would be more Latinos than white people in Texas within 10 years – and maybe as soon as five years), and decides the way to cope with the change is to become a part of it.

There are all too many people in our society now who would view the changing demographic as a problem that must be fought off – instead of an opportunity to continue doing business to a changing society.

If it reads like I’m writing that we need more people like Magill, rather than some of the ideologues who are spouting off in recent months with the rise of immigration reform as a political issue, you’d be correct.

MAGILL IS SOMEBODY who got himself included in the local Hispanic business organization because he wants to help his home region grow economically, and doesn’t see the changing demographic as a reason why it won’t.

In fact, I got my kick out of reading the Caller Times’ account of his new position, where he says he will try to use his post with a statewide Latino-oriented organization to try to shift more emphasis to his hometown of Corpus Christi.

That is encouraging, because it is accepting of the reality of the Latino population growth, where people with ethnic origins in Latin American nations or Spain itself will be a significant part of the overall population – about one-third by the year 2050.

Of course, some places won’t take that long. I know in my hometown of Chicago, it is expected to reach a population of one-third each Latino, black and white by 2020, while New York currently is 27 percent Latino, 26 percent black, 35 percent white and nearly 10 percent Asian.

THEN, THERE IS Texas, which once was a state in Mexico, along with being a one-time part of the New Spain colonies on this continent.

The state had a 52 percent white population in 2000, but by 2008 that was estimated to have shrunk to 47 percent (we will get a much more precise number when the results of this year’s population count are announced sometime next year).

By comparison, the Latino population went up 5 percentage points – from 32 percent to 37 percent. That is what had King makign the guess that the trend will continue, and that the switch from smaller share to larger share of the population for Latinos will occur sometime about 2020 – unless political people persist with trying to push for policies meant to interfere with the natural trend.

But even then, it is one of those trends that simply is going to occur. There simply are too many Latinos who are fully vested in this country (don’t forget all those Puerto Ricans who are U.S. citizens by birth, and Mexican-Americans who were born here) and aren’t about to leave – no matter how much the nativists have their wild fantasies.

PERSONALLY, MY WILD fantasies involve images of Penelope Cruz, but to each his own, I guess.

Which is why I find my bit of joy from a short story in a South Texas newspaper about at least one person who sees the future and doesn’t fear it. Now if only we could get more people to think like him, we truly would be better off as a society.

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