June 20, 2012

It always amazes me that once one becomes interested in a topic- for whatever reason-every place you look or go, you see evidence of it.  It’s been there all along, but to quote a friend in her book about Marcy Holmes neighborhood, – it’s been “Hiding in Plain Sight”.  That certainly is what is happening to me!

Over the last four months, my thinking transformed from multiculturalism to interculturalism – thanks mostly to the week- long residency of Charles Landry and my involvement of that through Plan-It Hennepin. Intermittently, there have been headlines that drew attention to 2011 as the first year in which more minority babies were born than white babies.  In the past week, Obama offered the first “make sense” step to address children of immigrants in the United States.   And yesterday, although I had no intention of talking about it, I was having lunch with a friend and something sparked my thought-process and I was off on Minneapolis as a world-class city and the role of interculturalism in that dream.

Today, the front page of the STRIB again brings our attention to immigration with its headline “State immigration shift mirrors national trend”.  For the first time, both US and MN new immigrants are coming from Asian countries than anywhere else in the world.   Yes, I know, most think “bad border control” with Mexico has led to an influx of illegal Hispanics and that is the biggest immigration situation we have.  Nope, six months after I first mentioned this phenomenon, PEW Research Center has confirmed that the net immigration from Mexico is ZERO. (See January Blog).  It seems confirmed that a declining birthrate creating a smaller labor pool, combined with an improved economy in Mexico and better immigration efforts at the border since 2009 have indeed moved this issue well down the list of priorities.  One would think that the facts would change the political dialog, but I am learning that hard lesson one more time- facts don’t matter in politics. I am hopeful, however, this means we can begin to take an honest look at the changes before us and how to positively respond and integrate them into our existing world.

Statistics in the STRIB for Minnesota show that 44% of our foreign-born population in Minnesota arrived since 2000.  Only 11% of those were white.  That means over 88% were Asian, Hispanic/Latino and Black or African/American.  36% of all immigrants in US were Asian; 30% of MN immigrants were likewise from Asian countries.   Two trends are seen in both statistics:  the slowdown of Mexican immigration combined with the US DEMAND for high-skilled workers in specialized fields.  [And yes, I think it is fair to read that as businesses cannot get high-skilled workers in specialized fields from the existing white population available to them – but that is another topic of discussion!]

And then, the editorial reflecting on St. Anthony and the two religious groups that have been denied access also chimed in this morning.  We already have a minority population of 30% in children under five years old in this state.  It closed the editorial with a thought-provoking statement:

The United States was founded by people who wanted the freedom to practice their faith.  That is the dream of diverse communities seeking to establish local houses of worship.  We should embrace them, not fear them.

All this, and we have not even gotten to the list of things we need to address to accommodate the broader shift to INTERCULTURALISM needed for us to emerge as a world class city.


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