Throughout my life in the US, I was often asked “where are you from?” Of course, I looked and sounded different and it was obvious I wasn’t born here. This question used to bother many immigrants, but not me. I never felt I needed to assimilate or reject my cultural background to succeed and be respected. Besides, it was a great conversation starter. And as the face of America started changing drastically during the past decade, coupled with many great diversity and inclusion initiatives, a lot of these questions went away for most of us in today’s presumably more open and accepting world.
But would you believe me if I told you we may start getting a lot more of these questions from the curious yet less polite among us? And not because the inclusion initiatives failed, but because we’re no longer divided into red, yellow, brown, black and white varieties. The skins are no longer just black, white and brown….hairs blonde, brunette or red….eyes either blue, green or brown….the faces now are a unique blend and mixture of all in no apparent pattern or structure.
I saw these pictures from National Georgraphic last year and I was blown away. Great article in what Americans will look like in 2050. It’s not that I haven’t seen or known anyone who resemble these pictures, but I was blown away because no one ever captured and published it. They’re beautiful.
You’ve heard me speak and write about the multiracial growth for a few years now. The US census bureau started collecting details on multiracial population since 2000 when it first allowed respondents to check off more than one box for race…and 6.8 million people did so. Ten years later that number jumped by 32% to 9 million, making multiracials one of the fastest growing population in the US. In 2013, 1 in 10 babies living with two parents were multiracial, up from just 1% in 1970, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. This is fueled by mixed race marriages, which has almost quadrupled, up to 6%, a new Pew Research study on multiracial Americans has found. Interestingly, a large share of mixed-race babies (43%) are not living with a married parent, suggesting that it’s probably not just interracial marriage, but interracial dating in general that is driving the demographic change.
Today, we’ve reached a point that we can no longer define race biologically, anthropologically or genetically. Racial identity is a highly nuanced concept, and a very personal one influenced by culture, politics, religion, history and geography. And census bureau knows that. Earlier this summer, Census started considering a new approach to asking about race in their 2020 census, by not using the term at all…and instead ask to check categories that best describe them, or definitions they identify with. Race, origin and ethnicity were confusing and interchangeable. US government, for example, identifies Hispanic as an ethnicity not a race. The confusion reflects a larger debate about how to define race, which used to be seen as a fixed physical characteristic and now more commonly is viewed as a complex mix of family and social environment, historical or socio-political constructs, lifestyle, etc.
This is causing many experts to redefine multiculturalism. It is no longer the mosaic of different people and their cultures coexisting together in the same geographical area. It is about the same mosaic in each individual being.
We’ve always used creative names to describe mixed breeds of our beloved pets. My dogs, Tai and Chi, are Chugs (chiwawa/pug). And puggles (beagle/pug) even have their own web site. So don’t be surprised if you start hearing the same creative mix to describe multiracial generation. No, I’m not comparing us to dogs. But on playgrounds and college campuses, you’ll hear homespun terms such as Blackanese, Filatino, Chicanese, and Korgentinian. Generation Z (after Gen Y) is also called Plurals for a reason (stay tuned for more on Gen Z in future blogs.) Don’t be surprised if we end up reconsidering existing racial definitions and identities. Multiracial children currently at 5% (multiethnic at 10% including Hispanic) implies that families come in al shapes and colors.
Business and Leadership implications?
Last year’s Cheerios ad featuring an interracial family promoted a barrage of hateful responses, including “DIEversity.” We hear similar outrage in Europe against multiculturalism due to muslim population increase. Sadly, but true, the current racial inequalities are real for interracial relationships equally. And I’m not naive enough to claim that the election of Barrack Obama has fixed it all. But I am suggesting that the new face of America is changing a lot faster than we all expected. The national geographic pictures say America will look like this in 2050, and I’m here to tell you, it’s more like 2043. They are consumers. They are future work force.
William Frey with Brookings institute recently reported that based on the most recent numbers, we’re beginning to reach a tipping point…and for the first time in the last century, we have more White deaths than births creating an older age structure. This is not an epidemic of death but one caused by lower fertility rate among aging whites. Not a big surprise. Everyone knew this would happen by 2020, but Frey reports that they are seeing this in 2012 numbers….8 years earlier and much sooner than expected. For the first time, half of children under 5 are non-white and 14 states are minority-majority. The young minority population is on the rise and will be the main work population in the next two decades as 10-12 million white boomers retire. Like it or not, this is good news. Otherwise, we will end up with declining labor force population much like Europe. It is the younger multiculturals that will help our country stay afloat.
Even beyond the work force, consider the changing customers and consumers of your product and services. Want to grow and succeed in The New World Marketplace? Consider forsaking your orthodoxies, biases and prejudices first.
Most of all, I do think it’s beautiful. Don’t you?
Keep staying informed, and please share your thoughts and comments below….