A California Department of Finance Report population report, released July 10, projects that Latinos will make up the majority of the state’s population by 2042. That is 52 percent, compared to Whites at 26 percent, Asians at 13 percent, Blacks at five percent, multi-race persons at two percent and both American Indian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander groups at one percent.
Jim Gonzalez, Chair of the Latino Policy Coalition, a national, non-partisan, non-profit consortium of Latino research organizations and scholars, believes that the statistics basically reflect what has already occurred in California, and that the so-called minority is already the majority, when one tallies current populations for Blacks, Latinos, Asian Pacific and other communities.
He spoke to Final Call Staff Writer Charlene Muhammad about the report’s impact in what he deems the most diverse state in America.
Final Call (FC): What is your overall assessment of the report?
Jim Gonzalez (JG): The State of California Department of Finance projections in my view are just that, predictions and projections, and in many ways one has to be very careful about making sure that all factors are put on the table before jumping to conclusions that certain public policy changes need to take place to avert some sort of crisis. Sometimes, the way the mainstream media is carrying this is there’s cause for alarm that the infrastructure isn’t there for that many people; there’s a tide of Hispanics sweeping over California to the diminishment of other communities.
FC: How do you believe the report can best be utilized?
JG: The report should be looked at objectively. One of California’s strengths is its diversity, which exists right now. These types of reports, if they only have one message, should be that diversity works for the common good, not that some group wins over another by winning some type of population counter.
FC: Do you think that this projection will have an impact on the immigration reform movement and if so, how?
JG: Immigration is an incredibly complex subject as seen in recent debates. Most of the growth of California, according to this report, is attributed to the fact that current populations that are large are having babies and experiencing less death. The only group that has grown by immigration is the Asian Pacific group. These reports have to be taken with a grain of salt because they involve a birth and death pattern, an immigration pattern and certain projection of previous years and assumption; but a lot of it is assumption, and drawing conclusions very quickly is sometimes irresponsible.
FC: As the projection comes on the heels of the Senate’s halt of immigration reform legislation, do you believe that it may be used by hidden hands in conjunction with mainstream media to strengthen its opposition to the immigration reform movement through fear tactics?
JG: Any statistical government report is subject to the conclusions of many types of people who take statistics and twist them to their own end. I think that on either side of the immigration debate you could take this report and come to opposite conclusions. Even though this report points out that the Hispanic growth will occur mainly through birth and not a high rate of death, on the other hand, I’m sure that some group like Fox News will basically ignore that fact and attribute growth to immigration. They’ll find another factoid and say the report’s wrong and dispute that it’s about immigration. People are usually wedded to their immigration theory and no matter what report comes out, they’ll still find a way to justify their theory.
FC: What about an impact to the state and U.S. economy?
JG: California is the world’s sixth to eighth largest economy, bigger than most nations. If California policy makers from all communities can come together and see this challenge before them and come up with rational policies for the future, California can teach the lesson to the rest of the world how a diverse community can plan for the future and provide for its people.
FC: How would you best use the report?
JG: What intelligent people should do with a report like this is to say that we have a diverse community and we are all in this together. We should come together at the table and plan for a better life for each of our communities, and that means a coalition of Latinos, African Americans, Asians and other so-called minorities working to make our communities better–and that includes the White community. All are included and you don’t pull apart, but come together when you look at reports, because diversity is strength.
To me this is not a crisis. It’s an opportunity, and this report should be studied and examined very closely by policy makers. It’s a cause for planning for the future.
FC: Thank you.