The Declaration of Independence held the signatures of 54 courageous colonists, representing all thirteen colonies. They completed their work and presented it July 4, 1776. Among its new order pronouncements, it recognized that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Jewish-American Emma Lazarus wrote “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Ms. Lazarus was 38-years-old when she died of cancer in 1887, 15 years before her poem was placed on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty’s base. Lady Liberty’s message has been a beacon to the world ever since.
Use of the Declaration and Lazarus’ poetry reminds all here that our forebears had the courage and fortitude to strike out from the Old World to the United States of America to seek out a country where freedom, liberty and the opportunity to pursue happiness were written into lawfully honored documents, promising everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, culture and origin, the chance to live an American Dream. My maternal grandparents came to the U.S. from Finland in the 1880s, my paternal relatives from Scotland in the 1850s. I never knew them because they passed from life before my birth; nevertheless, I venerably honor them for what they did for me and believe my sentiments are shared by virtually all of my fellow Americans.
One of the serious obstacles for a secure life in the U.S. has been for persons of race and skin color. At its heart have been barriers, barbs and bias. Fact is the U.S. will soon have no clear racial or ethnic majority while some states have already crossed that threshold with more to get there in the immediate future. Major contributors to the number of arrivals will come from the Latin and Asian countries, known to grow more quickly than non-Hispanic white populations.
The facts also show that persons of color already constitute the majority in California, Texas, Hawaii, and New Mexico. In nine others, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and New York, persons of color make up more than 40 percent of statewide populations. There will be no clear racial or ethnic majority in 25 years as whites will count at 49 percent, Latinos at 25, African-Americans at 13, and Asians at 8 percent. Four percent will identify as multi-racial. 2050 projections promise 100 million Latinos and 42 million Asians.
It is suggested that those of us who choose to act out through prejudicial violence and hateful demagoguery may wish to make attitude adjustments regarding others of color.
Prospective agents of change should also consider behavior adjustments for the sake of their children. When parents stop practicing and preaching adversarial ideas through antagonistic expressions, hate has a chance of drying up and blowing away. Just telling people of color to “go back home,” when they’re already bona fide citizens on the verge of majority status, fits only an American future without peace and a nation divided against itself.
(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)