It was news and no news; the most significant
milestone in one of the most profound changes to affect
the US in the past century, and yet a non-event. Last week
the US Census Bureau issued figures showing that non-hispanic
whites made up 49.8 per cent of the population of California.
Anglo-Saxon whites are already a minority in Hawaii and
the District of Columbia. Now they are an ethnic minority
in the country's most populous state, the one most usually
identified with the American dream.
'It's my hope we can all see our state's
diversity as a cause for celebration and not consternation,'
said California's lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamente,
a Latino. Robert Newby, a white shop-owner who has lived
in Los Angeles for 40 years, echoed his optimism: 'This
confirms what most of us have thought for years. I am happy
for there to be more immigrants - by and large they work
harder and have more money to spend.'
As recently as 1970, eight out of 10
Californians were white. Fuelled by immigration at its highest
rate since the start of the last century, and higher fertility
rates, the Asian and Latino populations of California have
risen by almost a third since 1990. At the same time, with
limited immigration and low birth rates, the population
of non-hispanic whites has fallen by 3 per cent. By 2040,
hispanics are expected to be the overall majority in the
Where California goes, the rest of America
is predicted to follow. At present 72 per cent of the US
population is non-hispanic whites; the US Census Bureau
predicts they will become a minority between 2055 and 2060.
Not every one likes the new face of America.
White far-right extremists predict the break-up of the union.
Thomas W. Chittum, a New Jersey-based Vietnam War veteran,
declared in his book Civil War Two, that the US, like Yugoslavia,
will shatter into new, ethnically-based nations. 'America
was born in blood, America suckled on blood, America gorged
on blood and grew into a giant, and America will drown in
blood,' Chittum warned.
The separatists have set up groups such
as Americans for Self-Determination. One of the founders,
Jeff Anderson, said: 'We are suggesting the US be partitioned
into states for blacks, whites, hispanics, and so on, along
with multi-racial states for those who wish to continue
with this experiment. Now is the time to begin such a multi-racial
dialogue about separatism, before a storm of violent racial
on from a very great height,'
cannot quote me -
a word out of place and I get
said one academic.
'Whatever you say you are deemed racist'.
The past millennium was more than anything
the era of the whites. Just 500 years ago, few had ventured
outside their European homeland. Then, with several acts
of genocide clearing the way, they settled in North America,
South America, Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent,
But now, around the world, whites are
falling as a proportion of population. The United Nations
collects and produces a vast array of statistics on population,
but produces none relating to race or ethnic origin. Indeed
few countries collect their own figures on ethnicity - in
Europe, only the UK and the Netherlands do.
However, the UN's State of the World
Population 1999 predicted that 98 per cent of the growth
in the world's population by 2025 will occur in lesser developed
regions, principally Africa and Asia. The most significant
reason for this is lower birth rates in rich countries:
in 61 countries, mainly the rich ones, people are no longer
having enough babies to replace themselves.
In its World Population Profile 1998,
the US Census Bureau predicted that by the second decade
of this century all the net gain in world population will
be in developing countries. 'The future of human population
growth has been determined, and is being determined, in
the world's poorer nations,' it said.
The global centre of gravity is changing.
In 1900 Europe had a quarter of the world's population,
and three times that of Africa; by 2050 Europe is predicted
to have just 7 per cent of the world population, and a third
that of Africa. The ageing and declining populations of
predominantly white nations have prompted forecasts of -
and calls for - more immigration from the young and growing
populations of developing nations to make up the shortfall.
Last year net immigration to Britain
reached 185,000, an all-time record. The Immigration Minister,
Barbara Roche, recently announced plans to attract migrants
to fill specific skills shortages, such as in the computer
Last month Edmund Stoiber, the premier
of Bavaria in southern Germany, called on Germans to have
more babies as an alternative to more immigrants. 'We are
having too few children - to a worrying degree, the significance
of which is scarcely recognised,' he said. His calls echoed
those of a fellow Christian Democrat who earlier this year
stood on a platform of 'Children not Indians'.
In Britain the number of ethnic minority
citizens has risen from a few tens of thousands in the 1950s,
to more than 3 million - or around 6 per cent of the total
population. While the number of whites is virtually static,
higher fertility and net immigration means the number from
ethnic minorities is growing by 2 to 3 per cent a year.
One demographer, who didn't want to
be named for fear of being called racist,
'It's a matter of pure arithmetic
that, if nothing else happens, non-Europeans will become a
majority and whites a minority in the
That would probably be the
first time an indigenous population
has * voluntarily
* become a minority in its historic homeland.'