March 25, 2011

If Not for the People, RI Would Have Fewer People

Justin Katz

Perhaps it's a function of idealism, but the continual penchant for racism in our country wearies me. By racism, I mean the division of people into racial groups and inclination to treat them as separate communities:

Without the 39,835 additional residents who identified themselves as Hispanic, Rhode Island would have lost 35,587 people from 2000 to 2010. That would have joined the Ocean State with Michigan, the only state to lose population in the 2010 census. As it was, Rhode Island ranked 49th in population growth, gaining 4,248, or 0.4 percent. ...

Hispanics officially became the majority population in Central Falls, while Providence grew closer to that status. If separated, Providence's Hispanic population of 67,835 alone would be the fifth-largest city in the state.

And so on. The thing is: they are not separated. The population did not decrease by 35,587. What is it we should determine to do differently based on this information? Should it become an outrage that Central Falls doesn't have a majority Hispanic government? Or, from the other side, should we treat "Hispanic" as a synonym for "immigrant" and panic at the loss of native-born Americans from our state?

The detriment arises from the mixture of these perspectives, such that assumptions are made about a group and then notions of how society should be arranged are imposed under those assumptions. The insinuation is that Hispanics have unique needs and points of view, and if those qualities aren't reflected in the political order, then some sort of under-representation must be to blame.

Personally, I find this bit of Census news to be more relevant, and definitely distressing:

In 2000, 247,822 children lived in Rhode Island, according to the Census Bureau. That was 23.6 percent of the state's population of 1,048,319.

By 2010, the number of children had dropped 23,866 to 223,956, or 21.3 percent of the state's slightly larger population of 1,052,567.

Unless one wishes to suggest that we were in the midst of a baby boom in 2000, the decrease in children is an indication of a waning society. Of course, it isn't necessary to turn to demographic statistics to discern that about Rhode Island.

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" the continual penchant for racism in our country wearies me. By racism, I mean the division of people into racial groups and inclination to treat them as separate communities:"

Second that. For the additional reason that it is often accompanied by a second person imperative message of non-existent victimization; i.e., "You're a ___ and so you're a victim, you poor dear".

Posted by: Monique at March 25, 2011 8:34 AM

Now, let's combine those two data sets and determine the growth of Hispanic children and reduction of non-hispanic children.

But then we have to decide what it means to us all.

Posted by: John at March 25, 2011 8:46 AM

Have you ever seen the movie, "Idiocracy"?

Posted by: BobN at March 25, 2011 9:01 AM

"the decrease in children is an indication of a waning society"

I'm not sure I can agree with that. Don't people in the more developed nations tend to have fewer children in order to preserve their standard of living?

Posted by: mangeek at March 25, 2011 9:09 AM

Removing all assumptions, a non-racist person would have no issue with a local government or area comprised exclusively of white individuals or exclusively of hispanic individuals. That means a Supreme Court with 9 white males and a Supreme Court with 3 white men, 3 white women, 1 black man, 1 hispanic woman, and 1 asian woman should be equally desirable to the non-racist.

Progressives treat proportional racial representation as an inherently good characteristic. This concept is racist by definition. A truly tolerant person is indifferent to racial make-up as long as there is no institutional discrimination demonstrably taking place.

Posted by: Dan at March 25, 2011 10:35 AM

I'm half Armenian, but I'm not any more likely to choose Armenian candidates, why would someone think race should play into their choice for representation?

Posted by: mangeek at March 25, 2011 10:51 AM

I recently watched a replay of an interview done some time ago on 60 minutes with Senator John O Pastore. The inteviewer asked the Senator how it felt to be the first Italian American ever elected to the United States Senate. The Senator replied,"I prefer not to be referred to as an Italian American. I'm an American of Italian decent and by the way if there are any Italians that voted for me just because I'm Italian they are fools ". As long as we keep creating divisions, GRIO T V for instance, it's going to be "divided we fall"

Posted by: leprechaun at March 25, 2011 11:30 AM

It isn't racism. There is only one race - the human race. We all share the same great to the nth grandmother and great to the nth grandfather. DNA matches can be closer between people of different colors than they are between people of the same color. It is, at its essence 'featurism'.

Posted by: Robert Balliot at March 25, 2011 11:38 AM

I'm half Armenian, but I'm not any more likely to choose Armenian candidates, why would someone think race should play into their choice for representation?
Posted by mangeek at March 25, 2011 10:51 AM

Why don't you "aks" the race that voted 99% for Obama...a coincidence I am sure.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 25, 2011 7:43 PM

I cannot point to any data, this is just something "I heard". Although both Mass and RI have growing populations, both havce lost about 1% of their white population , per year, for the last two decades.

I have no data, but suspect retirees going south have an impact. For instance, NC's population has gone up about 1,000,000 in the last decade. Largely imported from the Northeast.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 25, 2011 10:59 PM

As far more of us have multiethnic backgrounds, it becomes foolish to divide so much when the divisions do not offer a full picture of the population. Do I, for example, count as half an Hispanic person and half a white person? What about my daughter? Does she qualify as one-quarter of an Hispanic person and three-quarters of a white person? My niece gets even more complicated - 1/4 Hispanic, 1/4, white, 1/2 black. What does she count as? (Personally I count my daughter and niece as two adorable little girls.) The continued focus on division is more hurtful than helpful towards the goal of all people just recognizing one another as people - not as representatives of a particular "group."

Posted by: Tabetha at March 26, 2011 2:42 PM


You have struck on one of the problems with race based demographics. In the 19th Century there were "corruption of the blood" statutes determining racial identity of progeny. I have seen census records from 1930 (the most recent year available) which classify people as Mulatto. I don't know how that determination was made. (I have seen photographs of these people and they do not give the appearance of mixed race. Among southern Blacks, there was substantial mixture with the Cherokee. This seems to have effected facial structure, less than skin color. Perhaps that was part of the definition of Mulatto) More recent census questionnaires request that you self identify your racial group. It seems likely that your relatives will be counted on the basis by which they self identify, although Hispanic is an ethnic grouping and not a racial grouping.

PS, out of curiosity I Googled "mulatto" and found this "Mulattos may also be an admixture of Indians and African Americans according to Henings Statutes of Virginia 1705", "That the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto". This correlates with the "corruption of the blood" statutes that held a person to be Negro, until 1/16th, or less, of their blood line was Black.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 27, 2011 12:23 AM
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