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US Ethnic Makeup is Changing

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Demographers say the ethnic makeup of the United States is evolving. They expect to see more Hispanics in the 2010 census.  And they say the idea of a majority group in the U.S. will disappear within the next few decades. In fact, the Census Bureau has said that by 2050 minorities will be the majority. Many parents and schools in the U.S. are preparing their children for a new reality when they grow up. 

This is not just a trip to the doctor.  For Sylvia Osorio, it's another chance to see her daughter. Osorio says her daughter will not only grow up in a world more technologically advanced. There will also be more people who look like her. "I think it's going to be easier for her to get a better education, access to everything here," she said.

Hispanics like Osorio are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States.

Carl Haub of the Population Reference Bureau says, within five years, births of majority white babies may drop below 50 percent.

What's more, the birth to death ratio is one to one for the white majority.  For every Hispanic death, ten Hispanic babies are born.

"The Hispanics really are the engine that's helping to drive this large change in our ethnic makeup," Haub said.

The reasons behind the change include education and income.

According to demographers, women who are part of the white majority tend to be more well educated and working professionals. That group is having fewer children.  Women who are less educated and are making less money are having more children.

Enrique Torrico works with low income parents at Centro Nia, a public bilingual school in Washington where 78 percent of the families consider themselves Latinos. "Hopefully the level of discrimination and racism will be less. At least the color of their skin or the language they speak will be less important and it will be more important what they know, what they can do, and how they can contribute to the community," he said.

Demographers say many Latinos coming to the U.S. are from Mexico. The new immigrants are no longer staying in the states bordering Mexico. They are migrating to agricultural communities in the central part of the country where there are jobs.

"Because many of the young white kids leave. They don't want to work on a farm. In 40 or 50 years,  we will be seeing many more Hispanic faces around the country. I think sometime between now and then, the concept of majority will pretty much just die away," Haub said.

The changing ethnic makeup worries Jennifer Saleh who is married with two children. "I think access is my concern," she stated. "Access to health care, access to schools, access to resources.  What's going to happen to those? How are they going to be divided?"

Currently, many universities in the US are seeking to be more racially and ethnically diverse because white students still make up the overwhelming majority of their populations.

Enrique Torrico says in the future, race and ethnicity won't define the person. "It will be more important to know a different language.  It will be more important to learn about other people," he said. 

He says students need to prepare for the new reality by learning more than one language (nat pop) and embracing all cultures.

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