This increase in the minority population is due in part to the influx of Hispanic immigrants over the past few decades, a trend that is now slowing. It also reflects that with a median age of 42, the White population is aging while younger minorities, especially Hispanics, are moving into their peak child-bearing years.
With African Americans and Latinos still over-represented among the unemployed and high school drop-outs, this demographic shift should be a wake-up call to policy makers and employers. America cannot move forward if it continues to leave communities of color behind. We will not be able to grow our economy or compete in the 21st century global marketplace if we continue to squander so much of our young human capital.
Even as job creation continues to pick up, the unemployment rate for African Americans has exceeded 10 percent since 2008. It now stands at 13 percent. The rate for Hispanics also outpaces the national average at 10.3 percent. The high school dropout rate is also highest in these communities. It is ironic that the Census Bureau report was released on May 17, exactly 58 years to the day that Thurgood Marshall won the landmark Supreme Court case ending “separate but equal” segregation in our nation’s schools. While the hope was that Brown v. Board of Education would lead to better schools and a better education for all our children, America’s public schools are more segregated today than ever. And schools serving African American and Hispanic students remain unequal in terms of resources, funding and quality teachers.
Recent political attacks on affirmative action, immigration and voting rights also make it clear that while African Americans and Hispanics are growing in numbers, our fight for civil rights and equality is far from over. It is time to put these old divisions behind us. The future is fast approaching and its color is going to look a lot different than the shades of the past.
Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.