latinos are now the largest group of color in the united states -- 6/3/16

Today's selection -- from Brown is the New White by Steve Phillips. Among America's 320,000,000 inhabitants, Latinos are the largest group of color, with a population that now exceeds 54 million. There are also 43 million African Americans and 18 million Asian Americans. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in America, slightly ahead of Latinos:

"Latinos are now the largest group of color in the country, with a popula­tion that exceeds 54 million people, making up 17 percent of the total U.S. population and 46 percent of all people of color in America.

"The countries of ancestry of the six largest subgroups of Latinos are Mexico (63 percent), Puerto Rico (9.2 percent), Cuba (3.5 percent), El Salvador and the Dominican Republic (each about 3 percent), and Gua­temala (2.1 percent) -- collectively comprising 84 percent of the total Latino population in the United States.

Among all Latinos, 51 percent live in the Southwest on land that was part of Mexico prior to the 1846 U.S. war with Mexico (a war that started because Texas -- with the enthusiastic support of U.S. president James Polk -- sought independence from Mexico so that it could con­tinue the practice of slavery). The military conquest of Mexico cul­minated in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which compelled Mexico to relinquish its claim to the territory that now constitutes the states of California, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. In the eyes of many Mexican Americans, 'illegal' isn't a word to describe people who come to America without documents, but rather a term more applicable to how America took much of Mexico at gunpoint 168 years ago. As the popular saying goes among many Mexican Ameri­cans, 'We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us!' This history of U.S. conquest and seizure of land resulted in the tearing apart of families and communities and is also why many Mexicans continue to come here to reunite with loved ones. Much of the recent growth in the U.S. Latino population is a result of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which provided for family reunification. In recent decades, large numbers of Latinos applied for and received visas that had formerly been denied them.

"The second and third largest groups of Latinos in the United States­ -- Puerto Ricans (4.6 million people) and Cubans (1.8 million) -- are also concentrated in places tied to historical travel patterns. The island of Puerto Rico has a long and complicated history with the United States, and especially relevant to contemporary politics is the fact that Puerto Ricans are all U.S. citizens and, therefore, eligible to vote. Puerto Rican migration accelerated in the 1950s as part of the first airborne migra­tion. Many Puerto Ricans settled in New York and the surrounding states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. In recent years, the economic challenges on the island have prompted a new wave of migration to the mainland, with hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans leaving the island and many of them settling in the South, in general, and Florida, in particular.

"With Cuba located just ninety miles from Florida, Cuban immi­grants not surprisingly immigrated to the Sunshine State, mostly after the Cuban revolution of 1959, and today 70 percent of Cuban Ameri­cans still live in Florida. With the passage of time since the wave of immigration tied to the 1959 Cuban revolution, nearly half of all Cuban Americans in this country today were born in the United States. And with President Obama's 2015 decision to reestablish full relations with Cuba, a new era is beginning for all Cuban Americans with family and historical ties to that island nation."


Steve Phillips


Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority


The New Press


Copyright 2016 Steve Phillips


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