BY LOUISE BUTLER
In 2042, I will be 96 years old. New Year’s Day will be on a Wednesday and Easter Sunday will fall on April 6. Fossil fuels should be at the beginning of their end. Cars will be self-driving. We will eat less meat. Currency will become obsolete as electronic movement of money will be automatically added to blockchains of financial interactions.
But there will be one more change that will be subtle, slow, but increasingly obvious to all of us: By 2042, white people will become the minority population in the United States. Thanks to an immigration rate of 2 million people per year, I will no longer enter a restaurant and see a sea of faces that look just like mine. Colors of clothes and makeup will likely lend themselves to the bold colors that go well with warm skin tones, instead of the pastels and neutrals that suit cool Nordic coloring. My grandchildren will be in school, at work and choosing life partners from a population that does not look like me.
Grocery stores will be more ethnically diverse, which means they will reflect the fish, grain and vegetable-based diets of many of the countries from which our immigrant population comes. English will remain the common language because it is the language of international commerce. Capitalism will (and must) survive because it is the reason this country is a destination of choice for so many people. But layers of socialism should take over as we move higher up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs toward our “better angels” of human caring.
I do not fear these changes. Indeed, I am eager to be part of it. Why not? Life is an evolution, a constant movement toward adaptations that enhance biological success.
What is more, I live in Texas, a state that could provide a good example for the rest of the country. It is among four U.S. states with minorities as their demographic majority, that include California, Hawaii and New Mexico. According to Forbes magazine and the Brookings Institute, the only one of these four “future America’s” in which all the largest racial and ethnic groups are doing better than the national average is Texas. Even after adjusting for cost of living, Texas minorities do better than the national average of minorities while California still ranks highest in poverty measures of every group.
The Texas model of governance, which includes low taxes, less regulation and lawsuit reform, seem to be producing more consistent results than the big government model epitomized by California. Yet I think there is another factor at work here — one that is not quantifiable. Our Hispanic communities in Texas know, embrace and honor their history as Americans. While post-Civil War Texas (falling victim to the southern doctrines of many of its white immigrants) chose to marginalize, deny and then forget the role of Texas’ Mexican heritage, Texans of Hispanic ancestry know who they are. They know what they have done.
I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who referenced (with justifiable pride) the generations of his family who had lived in this region under six flags. There is a strong pride in ownership that goes with that history: A history of leadership, an anchor of tradition and a love for the land.
So, on my 96th birthday, when my Minnesota/Norwegian/Lutheran heritage is no longer a national majority, I will sleep well. My country will be in good hands. I just hope our new majority will treat me better than we have treated them. But I believe they will, because I have seen the graciousness of Texans whose ancestry is different than mine.