Red, White, and Blue No Longer: Religion and A Non-White American Future
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The U.S. Census Bureau, never one to rush to judgment, has now made it official: fewer than 50% of the babies born in the United States during the year ending in July of last year were white.
That’s right: among the nursery set, certifiably white bundles of joy are now in the minority, and this trend is considered irreversible in view of the higher fertility rates among immigrant groups already living here and a virtual end to the in-migration of whites from abroad.
The New York Times reported this in Column One noting only that, in respect to potential future conflict, at some point active workers of color will at some point support, via their payroll taxes, Social Security payments that are made primarily to white retirees.
This observation implies that younger people of color might take counsel among themselves and decide that it’s not such a great idea to subsidize old white people. Myself, I think it’s much more likely that the old white people will use their undue political influence to squeeze more from those whom they were once pleased to refer to as “the minorities” (and other less polite terms).
I say this as a Californian, where non-Hispanic whites ceased to be the majority group in 1999 but where whites still very much rule the political roost in ways that have terrible consequences for younger Californians of color. Seeing the end in sight, conservative white Californians began more than three decades ago to implement a series of voter-enacted restrictions on the raising of any new taxes or fees.
Taken together, these restrictions created the ironclad supermajority requirements that now block the California legislature and all local elected bodies in this state from raising adequate revenue to support the education of kids who (surprise!) don’t look like “us” anymore. The effects of the revenue chokehold are plain to see: K-12 schools in California now rank at or near the bottom on various national scales, and California’s once-vaunted high-quality, low-cost public higher education system has been almost entirely trashed.
This chart (courtesy of Prof. Manuel Pastor, director of USC’s peerless Program for Environmental and Regional Equity) shows how non-Hispanic whites from throughout the entire United States will soon be following those from the Golden State into minority status; it may take another 30 years for the whole country to get there, but it’s coming.
In a sane culture—i.e., a culture in which social participation and social belonging had nothing to do with race or ethnic origin—the coming eclipse of white majority status wouldn’t mean a thing. It might even be celebrated, democratically, by whites themselves.
America’s most visionary spirits (e.g., Walt Whitman in “Democratic Vistas”) always expected the idea of American democracy and the idea of a new and blended population to lift people above any form of tribalism. Alas, this is not that kind of sane culture. Tribalism, especially white tribalism, still runs deep. And as religion has everything to do with this particular form of insanity, religion is where we should look, both to gauge the scope of the problem and to scan for possible pathways to sanity.
The Old Religion of Whiteness Persists in New Forms
The distinctly American hierarchical system, the comprehensive system of economic and social control that James Lawson tellingly refers to as “plantation capitalism,” has long been thoroughly bonded to a white supremacist ideology. Bad religion functions as the binding agent, sanctifying hierarchy and validating racial subordination. No one, then or now, seems to catch the irony of Christianity—a distinctly un-tribal religion in its origins—becoming a primary vector for raw white tribalism on American soil.