If current population trends hold, the United States is projected to be a majority-minority country between 2041 and 2046. In other words, Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and other ethnic minorities collectively will outnumber whites. While that is a remarkable milestone, there is something even more important and notable about these demographic shifts.
For instance, in 1974, my kindergarten class was one of the first integrated classes in my home town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. From a historical perspective, this means that 17 years AFTER the hallmark Brown v. Board of Education case which declared separate but equal unconstitutional, my hometown finally integrated the schools. But it was not the newness of integration, or even the lateness of implementation that I want to emphasize. It’s the fact that as a 5 year-old child, my norm was an integrated classroom.
My mom’s generation grew up in the Jim Crow era, and her entire education from kindergarten to college graduate was segregated. As a teacher, she was one of the first teachers to teach an integrated classroom (my kindergarten class was at the same school my mom taught). However, I didn’t know the difference. I didn’t know because MY normal was an integrated classroom.
In their lifetime, they have seen one African-American President (President Obama), two female Vice Presidential candidates (Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Kamala Harris), one female Presidential candidate (Secretary Hillary Clinton), and one Black and Indian-American female Vice President (Vice President-Elect Harris).
And think about representation in the media. There was once a time where you never saw interracial couples on TV or in the movies. Gradually, we saw some representation here and there. But now, interracial couples and LGBTQ+ and non-white protagonists are a common feature in pop culture and even commercials.
Think about what is the new norm in media.
We have seen powerful women, like Olivia Pope in Scandal. We have seen powerful representation of LGBTQ+ characters in shows like Orange is the New Black or Jessica Jones. And I recently watched two Netflix original movies where the leads were an interracial couple.
Seeing these new roles, characters, and stories simply makes my heart feel good, but for today’s generation, it is the norm. How wonderful is that?
We often celebrate the glory of the first time a person of color or woman represented in fields or positions that had been exclusively white or male. For example, this weekend, when Sarah Fuller was the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game.
But the true measure of greatness is not when we are celebrating these breakthroughs. The true measure is when it’s no longer a breakthrough, but a normal occurrence.
When the NEW becomes NORMAL.
I can’t wait to see the day. And as a man born in 1969, I’ve been waiting a long time already. So, for those of you doing the math, I will be 72 years old when the year 2041 rolls around. Man, I wish I could be in my twenties in 2041 when the United States becomes a majority-minority country.
There will be a lot of new normals, and I can’t wait to see them when I get there.