News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Population trends show U.S. becoming a true melting pot

Projections of what the United States' population will look like in 37 years give a whole new meaning to the phrase "melting pot."

That term has often been used to describe the diverse races, nationalities and cultures that came together to form this nation. The nation has been getting more diverse.

With the population reaching 300 million last week, demographers are looking ahead to the year by which they think we'll reach 400 million. By 2043, they say, the United States will be about 15 percent non-Hispanic black, 8 percent Asian and 24 percent Hispanic. That's a total of 47 percent. Only about half the total population will be white.

But racial distinctions will not mean as much as they do now. In the 2000 census, more than 7 million Americans described themselves as multiracial.

"The racial lines will basically be blurred," said Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey. "It's hard to say what the different classifications will be. ... The stark racial categories now won't hold."

There was a time when many Americans opposed interracial marriages and families, but the numbers speak for themselves. Multiracialism is now more widely accepted.

At the same time, old-fashioned bigotry is becoming less of an option. Bigotry is not in your self-interest if your own group of people is not a majority. Exercising bigotry also increases the likelihood of violence, as we can see today in unfortunate societies elsewhere in the world.

The expansion of equal rights that has taken place in the past few decades must continue — not only because it's morally right, but because it's the only way our nation will survive.

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