The rise of "multi-racials" could change U.S. politics

Multi Racial.jpgBy Marisa TrevinoLatinaLista

The U.S. Census released a report last week that showed something that everyone has known to be on the horizon for a while now -- the growth in numbers of people of color.

According to the U.S. Census' figures, which are still based on the 2000 Census and updated by Census staff using a variety of resources, the minority population now makes up 35 percent of the nation's population.

When the groups are looked at separately, it's no big surprise that the group seen with the biggest gain is Latinos, who now comprise 16 percent of the population versus the black population that only comprises 12 percent of the population.

However, what is a surprise for many is the rise of a new demographic -- multiracials.
Multiracial Americans, the fastest growing U.S. demographic group, are also adding to minority gains. About 5.3 million last year were identified as being of multiple race or ethnicity, up 3.2 percent from the previous year.
The gain among multiracial Americans was higher, if even only by a percentage point, than any of the other groups measured. This can only point to the assumption that the rise in multiracials will continue to increase -- we'll know far better once the analysis of the 2010 Census is released -- and that could prove to be a real game-changer when it comes to Latino politics.

Multiracial Map.gifAccording to a 2009 Associated Press article, about 1 in 13 marriages are mixed race, with the most prevalent being white-Hispanic, white-American Indian and white-Asian.

Multiracial Latinos have the option of being a Latino -- buffet style. They take those aspects of the culture they like and identify with and claim them as their own; others they disregard.

Guilt trips used by organizations or their peers to get them to join their "Latino" causes/groups don't work very well, especially if that multiracial completely rejects the Latino side of him/herself in favor of the other "half."

This "independence" from the main group can wreak havoc on any potential Latino voting bloc. It means that, as a community, the Latino population has to create ways to acknowledge the multiracial Latino and do a better job of including multiracials into the fold and endorse their sense of mixed identity, knowing that in the voter's booth it's one identity that will win out when choosing candidates.
"The significance of race as we know it in today's legal and government categories will be obsolete in less than 20 years," said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution."The rise of mixed-race voters will dilute the racial identity politics that have become prevalent in past elections," he said.
And when it comes to negotiating demands for votes, that may prove to be harder and harder to deliver on.

Marisa Trevino is a syndicated journalist and local public radio commentator based in Texas writing about family, education and other social justice issues for over a decade. Dedicated Latina, playwright, and citizen. She runs the website Latina Lista, where this originally appeared.