Is the 'Tanning' of America Only Skin Deep?

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Marcia Alesan Dawkins says that a meaningful conversation about America turning into a "majority minority" nation must go beyond the numbers.

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In a piece for the Huffington Post, Marcia Alesan Dawkins says that a meaningful conversation about America turning into a "majority minority" nation must go beyond the numbers.

It's official: The United States is officially "tan." According to the U.S. Census Bureau's first population estimate by age, race, ethnicity, and sex since the 2010 Census, "50.4 percent of our nation's population younger than age 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011. This is up from 49.5 percent from the 2010 Census taken April 1, 2010. The population younger than age 5 was 49.7 percent minority in 2011, up from 49.0 percent in 2010."

But a quick Facebook poll shows that many people are doubtful that the effects "tanning" has had in the worlds of culture and marketing will be seen in the worlds of politics and privilege. Take the focus on language: "the irony of the phrase 'majority minority'" or "minorities, really? New terms needed badly" or "Yep. Oxymoron somewhat." Responses like these show that we don't even have the proper language to have a full color conversation about our nation's changing demographics …

Before we rush to judgment on whether an "tanning" or "majority-minority" nation is finally doing away with its troubled racial past, we would be wise to remember that having the conversation in demographic terms only forces us to isolate the concepts of race, ethnicity, and racism from the legal, political, and social customs that got us into this mess in the first place. A demographics-only conversation also makes ending racism and ethnocentrism by legal, political, and cultural means all the more difficult to imagine.

Read Marcia Alesan Dawkins' entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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