Changes

We are living in turbulent times.

Every generation believes they will be called tide-changers, described in the pages of history as heroes.  Still, it’s hard not to feel like “change is gonna come” as the discourse surrounding things like Black Lives Matter and immigration become painfully woven into the fabric of our American Experience.

Ronald Takaki begs us to admit that multiculturalism is an American reality impossible to escape.  Takaki quoted the Time Magazine 1990 cover story, “America’s Changing Colors”, which said that by 2056 most Americans would trace their lineage to Africa, Asia, the Hispanic World, the Pacific Islands, Arabia–almost anywhere by white Europe.

Here’s an update to that figure: last year, the US Census Bureau released a report projecting that by year 2045, whites folks will be in the minority.

Numbers like that incite fear.

“The deeper significance of America’s becoming a majority nonwhite society is what it means to the national psyche, to individuals sense of themselves and their nation — their idea of what it is to be American.”, reads the Time article.

The wounds of our American Past that have been allowed to fester have formed a crusty scab that have allowed (some of) us to be blissfully ignorant of the infection  just beneath the surface of our American Skin.  Recent events have scratched into that wound, revealing something we may not have wanted to see. Perhaps part of what has been revealed is a deep-seated discomfort with multiculturalism. 

Why do you think some white Americans are concerned about the changing landscape of American race?

What does a majority nonwhite society mean to the national psyche–the idea of what it is to be American?

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Published by

ariannadametz

I'm an American Studies major on a trajectory toward law school!

3 thoughts on “Changes”

  1. Anyone with power is going to be terrified of losing it. White America has been in a position of hegemonic power for so many years it seems almost self evident why they would do almost anything to protect it. These mythic American ideas are damaging on so many more levels than just the marginalization of huge minorities here in the United States. The idea of Anglo-European descendants being the only true Americans has helped foster the situations we saw with Rodney King and in Ferguson Missouri. To answer your second question would be just as difficult as trying to pin down an American psyche to the current white majority. Even if their viewpoints haven’t been explored as fully as they should be, non-white Americans are just as much a part of the American Psyche as White Americans. To try and dig deeper than that I fear would cross into the world defining what an American is which would be undertaking labor far beyond my level of expertise.

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    1. The answer to both of your questions lie in the title of your post. Changes. People inherently fear what they do not know.

      The Takaki article references the University of Minnesota requiring an ethnic studies requirement for graduation. I do believe that we have those requirements (Diversity, Non-Western Studies) at Oklahoma State as well now.

      In response to Mike’s reply above, and to further the conversation. I would make note that the power will always be in the hands of the educated. According to the Institute of Education Sciences 77.5% of all Bachelor’s degrees awarded between 1999-2000 were given to student classified as White, and the majority of those degrees (56.6%) went to women. So we are seeing shifting demographics across the board.

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  2. To try and answer your questions, the readings indicate that some Americans will be concerned about the “changing” landscape due to the mythical “imagined West” they’ve been taught to believe in. Coming from this standpoint, it can be confusing when the reality begins to set in. Takaki and the ACS chapter push for more inclusion of all stories, not just those from the majorities or even the most popular minorities. As Takaki points out, many cities’ names their roots in Hispanic or Native American language. People have been integrated into the myth in the past few generations and coming out of it they’re confused. They don’t recognize these truths and stories and when these things are presented it’s confusing.

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