You are here

The Born Supremacy

Courtesy Weldon Owen

Drinkers of craft beers and mocha lattes, buyers of Docksiders and Ethan Allen furniture, fans of Dave Matthews’ music and Jennifer Aniston’s movies, sayers of “like” and “you know,” drivers of pick-up trucks and ATVs, acquirers of liberal arts degrees, appliers of SPF 50: It was a great run, but it’s over.

As you’ve probably heard from a white person by now, for the first time in U.S. history, non-white babies make up the majority of the country’s births. Among the approximately 4 million babies born in the U.S. between July 2010 and July 2011, 50.4 percent belonged to a racial or ethnic group traditionally classified as minorities.

This is happening for several reasons. For starters, the Panera Posse isn’t offsetting the exit of older generations. Last year, 1,025 white children were born for every 1,000 who died. The average ratio for all other ethnic groups was a whopping 3,940 births to 1,000 deaths. Over the past two years, births of white babies declined more than 10 percent, far more than any other group.

Secondly, when Dixie Chicks have babies, they’re not having as many of them. On average, Hispanic moms give birth to 2.4 babies. White moms give birth to 1.8 babies. If it weren’t for the Duggars and Nadya Suleman, that number would have been even worse.

Lastly, minority moms are younger, on average. Older women are more prone to infertility, and when they become pregnant, they have a higher rate of complications including hypertension, preterm delivery, post-partum hemorrhage and perinatal complications.

First, let me say thank you to the minority parents for keeping me in a job. More babies means more formula, more diapers, more strollers, and more baby shampoo, which means more Enfamil, more Huggies, more Graco, and more Johnson & Johnsons ads in our magazines.

I also want to say thank you for saving our country. “People for thousands of years have said that more people means more poverty. That goes against the past hundred years, when wealth and prosperity have exploded,” explains Bryan Caplan, economist and author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. “The main reason we are richer is that there are more people, which means more ideas, and more customers to buy those ideas.” Here’s just one example: If we have fewer kids, there will be fewer artists in iTunes, and fewer people to buy those artists on iTunes. That means fewer people buying iPods. That means fewer people attending live shows. That means fewer people purchasing concert T-shirts. That means fewer people making iPods and concert T-shirts. That means more people on unemployment.

But here’s the Big Question: Why do we track and measure each group separately? What purpose does this serve in 2012? Back in the 1920s, when Congress passed the Johnson-Reed Act, which limited the number of immigrants that could come to the U.S. based on their nationality, we took these racial classifications very seriously. The options on the census were White, Black, Mulatto, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu. Nearly a century later, we’re still making sure we keep the Pacific Islanders away from the non-Hispanic whites of European descent. Why does this matter, exactly? Do they know this will be an obsolete issue soon? According to Pew Research Center, the share of new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity was more than 15 percent in 2010 (that means 1 in every 6.7 marriages was interracial). That figure was only 3 percent in 1980. Forty-three percent of Americans say that more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society. (Only one-in-ten think it's a change for the worse.) As a result, our population is becoming an increasingly mixed bag.

One day soon we’ll be one race: Pacifipean Hispanese Whitasian. And one day soon, the census’ racial and ethnic classifications will deteriorate into chaos. American moms and dads will squint, turn their heads, and blindly check a box on their census forms, as if throwing that last meaningless dart in a carnival game. Lacking any clear data, the census takers will chase us frantically threw our neighborhoods, holding up Benjamin Moore color swatches to our skin.

One day soon the census takers will look from mother to father, and from father to mother, and from mother to father again; but it will be impossible to say which is which.

comments