Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Five good explanations of what the census results mean for California



Photo by Michelle Kinsey Bruns/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Yesterday's 2010 Census results for California revealed what was already expected, an increasingly diverse state in which ethnic minorities have together become a majority. Latinos and Asian Americans alone - 37.6 and 12.8 percent of the population, respectively - now make up half the state's residents.

What does this mean for the state, politically and culturally? There have been several good explanations today, among them:


Political power will shift away from traditional strongholds such as Los Angeles and San Francisco and into the Inland Empire and Central Valley. Minorities, whose representation in the Legislature and the California congressional delegation has never matched their population numbers, could see increased opportunities to gain control of elected offices.


Among Californians of all ages, the 38 percent who are Hispanic almost equal the 40 percent who are white, a drop of 5 percent. Even in Orange County, where the airport is named after John Wayne, whites are now a minority and Hispanics make up the largest block of school-age children.

"Hispanics are the future of California," said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. "Any local or state initiatives that have to do with education need to reach out to this population. That's more crucial in California than anywhere else."




While the nation is emerging from a recession, California felt it early and is continuing to lag, economists say. That makes the state far less attractive to residents of other states who in previous decades may have longed to join the California dream.

"The biggest change is definitely the slowing down in our rate of growth and the almost total stop of people coming to California from other states," says Douglas Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government in Claremont.



We joke sometimes that you white folks don't have to worry -- we're not here for a "reconquista" (the right-wing term for a Mexican reclamation of land that once belonged to Latinos).

Well ... we were kideen!

We do want our land back.