Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Number of Majority-Minority Counties and States Grow

Shifts in the nation’s demographics, especially with regards to the Hispanic population have been recognized in states like California, Texas and Arizona for at least the past two decades.  However,  immigrants from around the world are contributing to the changing face of many other parts of the country.

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced that between 2007 and 2008, Finney County, Kansas is one of six counties across the nation that became majority-minority. The agency defines majority-minority as a county where more than half the population is made up of a group that is not single-race, non-Hispanic white.

Nearly 10 percent of the nation’s 3,142 counties were majority-minority as of July 1, 2008. New census figures show more than one-third of the people in the United States are non-white and a staggering 47 percent of the population under the age of 5 is a minority.

Tim Cruz, former mayor of Garden City, Kansas, the largest town in Finney County, said his town is just like any another melting pot, “It makes it nice to have those different cultures. And sure they’re different — we have to understand what they celebrate and why they do it.”

Hispanic are nothing new to this part of the state having been in Finney County for more than a hundred years. Tim Cruz’s grandmother moved to Garden City from Mexico in 1910.

Now new waves of immigrants are being joined by others who have been drawn to the Midwestern state because of jobs; massive meatpacking plants in Garden City have attracted workers from Southeast Asia and Somalia.

At Alta Brown Elementary, the native language of about half of the 409 students is something other than English.

Despite Cruz’s optimism, not all of Finney County’s some 41,000 residents are thrilled by the increasing cultural diversity. Teacher Linda Turner admits she’s heard racist comments, “Out at Wal-Mart you hear, ‘Oh, look at how they’re dressed … wonder where they’re from, what they’re doing here?’ Especially if they weren’t speaking English.”

In a town where tacos and Vietnamese pho illustrate the benefits of different cultures, the diversity also brings challenges.  Local police chief, James Hawkins, says communication can be a difficulty. However, he cites the growing diversity on his force as a change in the right direction.

Cruz wants to see the new group of immigrants understand that even though they may feel that working in the packing plants is a better life than what they left behind, as he puts it, “the American dream is much greater.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the following are New Majority-Minority Counties:

Finney, Kansas

Orange County, Florida

Stanislaus, California

Warren, Mississippi

Edwards, Texas

Schleicher, Texas

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the following are New Majority-Minority States:

Hawaii –75 percent

New Mexico — 58 percent

California — 58 percent

Texas — 53 percent

District of Columbia — 67 percent