What Will Become of California?

There’s an article at City Journal on California’s dramatic demographic shift over the last half century from very Anglo to increasingly Hispanic that you might want to take a look at:

The poor Mexican immigrants who have fueled the transformation—84 percent of the state’s Hispanics have Mexican origins—bring an admirable work ethic and a respect for authority too often lacking in America’s native-born population. Many of their children and grandchildren have started thriving businesses and assumed positions of civic and economic leadership. But a sizable portion of Mexican, as well as Central American, immigrants, however hardworking, lack the social capital to inoculate their children reliably against America’s contagious underclass culture. The resulting dysfunction is holding them back and may hold California back as well.

I found a number of shortcomings in the article. First, I think the author depends too heavily on the persistence theory (if it’s sunny today, it will probably be sunny tomorrow, too). Over the period of the last several decades the U. S. has experienced an extraordinary immigration from Mexico and it is that which has fed the transition the author points to. I think there’s good reason to believe that immigration will not continue including its decline or even reversal as a consequence of the decline in jobs in home construction, improving economic opportunities in Mexico, and Mexico’s own demographic shift. What will the consequences of markedly lower immigration from Mexico? I don’t know but I strongly suspect that it means that a U. S. Hispanic majority is a lot less likely now that it looked just a few years ago.

Second, the author skirts around the fringes of something without giving it a name. That she fails to give it a name makes me wonder about her understanding of what she’s seeing. She spends some time describing certain aspects of something that is called “cholo culture”. It bears roughly the same relationship to urban Mexican-American young people that hip-hop culture does to urban black kids. I believe we’ll hear an increasing amount about it in the next few years but that’s more because its roots have been cut off rather than that it’s growing. We’ve already seen some mention of it. For example, celebrities like Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, and Kat Von D have all openly acknowledged their borrowing from cholita style.

There’s an factor in cholo culture mentioned only in passing in the article: explicit disdain for education. Perhaps you see some way to reconcile that with an America in which education is increasingly vital. I don’t.

7 comments… add one
  • Brett Link

    I don’t know but I strongly suspect that it means that a U. S. Hispanic majority is a lot less likely now that it looked just a few years ago.

    It depends. The current crop of children are almost majority-minority. so you’d eventually a majority-minority U.S. That said, I suspect that by the time this really becomes a factor (2050+), nobody will care. Hispanics will probably just be considered “white” by then (just like how Italians and southern Europeans were often considered to be “inferior” whites in the late 19th century, but not anymore).

  • Brett Link

    Jeez, I made a lot of grammatical errors in that post. My apologies.

  • Simple way to state my view: I’m not worried. I’ve always considered Hispanics to be whites. May have something to do with the fact that my closest living relatives other than my mom, dad, and siblings were my mom’s cousins. Their mom was from Mexico.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Also, the portion of the article dealing with politics and the problems hispanics have with the Republican Party, may not quite connect all of the dots. The article claims hispanics are less concerned about immigration policy/amnesty than economic issues (“the party favored only the rich and that Republicans were selfish and out for themselves”)

    I think the proper way to analyze hispanic attitudes is to compare against their demographic cohorts. Hispanics tend to be younger and in many part of the country are poorer, so their preference for the Democratic Party may have less to do with Hispanic identity, than age, income and perhaps religion.

  • Icepick Link

    The article quoted reads like a SWPL parody. The author seems completely oblivious to what she’s writing. How does

    But a sizable portion of Mexican, as well as Central American, immigrants, however hardworking, lack the social capital to inoculate their children reliably against America’s contagious underclass culture.

    mesh with

    Jon Pederson works as a pastor in the Willard area of Santa Ana, a formerly middle-class neighborhood of stucco apartment blocks whose balconies now sport bright blue tarps and small satellite dishes. Participation in gangs and drug culture is rising in the second and third generation of Hispanic immigrants, he observes. “It’s a perfect storm. When a family comes from Mexico, both parents need to work to survive; their ability to monitor their child’s life is limited.” Families take in boarders, often kin, who sometimes rape and impregnate the young daughters. “Daddy hunger” in girls raised by single mothers is expressed in promiscuity, Pederson says; the boys, meanwhile, channel their anger into gang life. Nearly 53 percent of all Hispanic births in California are now out of wedlock, and Hispanics have the highest teen birthrate of all ethnic groups. Pederson saw similar patterns as a missionary in Central America: teen pregnancy, single-parent families with six or eight serial fathers, and high poverty rates.

    Routine domestic violence is another Third World import, especially from Mexico. More than a quarter of the 911 calls to the Santa Ana Police Department are for domestic violence, reports Kevin Brown, a former Santa Ana cop who now serves on an antigang intervention team. “Children are seeing it at home—they’re living the experience,” he says.

    ? It isn’t so much what they’re learning (or not learning) here, it’s what they’re bringing with them. Also, since when do AMERICANS think “a respect for authority” is an unquestioned good? There are so many other things that the author just let’s slip by (educational standards have slipped, but educational achievement against those standards has gone up – win-win!) that I’m not sure the article has any actual worth.

    Not to mention that the whole “Hispanic” thing isn’t _A_ thing at all. We used to have lots of Mexicans in Central Florida. (With the collapse of the housing market we have fewer now.) They were a distinct group from the Puerto Ricans that live here. (We have a very large PR population in the Orlando area.) And while we don’t have lots of Cubans in CF, we have enough to note that they’re different than the PRs and the Mexicans. Substantial racial variation exists within populations of Latin American countries as well, just as they do in the US and Canada. Some individuals are predominantly European, some are predominantly aboriginal, some predominantly African, and there are lots of mixes in various proportions. (PRs sem to be proud of being very mixed.) No one is going to be calling the Sammy Sosa’s of the world white anytime soon.

    And that ignores other bits of lunacy, like lumpinig in Antonio Banderas (Spain) with Hispanics, which I have heard done. That’s about as stupid as calling Charlize Theron black because she was born in Africa.

    Americans are terrible at separating race, nationality and ethnicity from each other, and this “Hispanic” grab-bag is the stupidest thing we’ve done yet. (Not the most evil, just the stupidest.) Even the “Hispanics” are bad at this. CNN’s Hispanic of choice wrote a few weeks ago about how badly Romney would do in Florida because of his anti-illegal-Mexican immigration stance. Guess what, PRs (citizens by birth!) and Cubans (who have favored immigrant status and a fast track to citzenship) might not see the issue the same way as Mexicans! And Haitians don’t give a shit about any of that so long as they don’t have to go back to Haiti.

  • PD Shaw Link

    @icepick, I remember a blogger that worked for a national ag business, and he claimed based upon his experience at farms in different parts of the country and in Mexico, that there were significant cultural differences btw/ Mexicans originating from different Mexican states (differences btw/ east and west, central and south). I don’t recall the particulars, but his point was you can’t lump all Mexicans together.

  • Icepick Link

    PD, that’s pretty much true. It’s not even clear that the Mexican “government” extends over the whole region we call Mexico. The aboriginal south and the states that border the US all seem to be fairly autonomous in many ways. Mexica is a country, not a nation-state.

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