The Brookings Creative Lab produced this three-minute video which describes succinctly how the division in American politics is being driven by the dynamics of racial change in our country. Bill Frey, the video author states that the 2016 presidential race won’t be the last one to pit the “old and the white against the young and the brown,” but, he suggests that it may be “the most contentious.”
I touched on this topic in a previous post, but I want to circle back to it because I think it’s important. The young in this country are leading the way towards an America that will be a minority-majority nation. In fact, we are already there for children under age five and we will be there for all children under age 18 by the year 2020.
The trend is inevitable. By 2044 the US Census projects that the entire country will be a majority-minority nation. Given that there is nothing anyone can do to stop this trend, wouldn’t it be important for our regional community to embrace it; to prepare for it; to ensure that it is a welcomed change and not one that is opposed at every turn? Wouldn’t it be a good idea of our southeastern Wisconsin region – one deemed among the most racially and economically segregated in the United States – to prepare now for a smooth transition into multi-culturalism?
What would that preparation look like? In my mind, it must start with understanding the current dynamics. We must steep ourselves in the geographic, racial, and economic realities of our region using data and not emotion. Next, we need to walk gently through a process that allows us – individually and collectively – to examine our hearts and our conscience to see how each of us contributes to the reality of our region as it now stands. From that basic understanding, we can begin to collectively forge a path to embrace a region that is multi-cultural and accepting of all God’s people. And finally, we must put in place structural changes that begin to alleviate some of the vestiges of the racial and economic segregation from generations past. Given the sensitivity of the issues, I believe the proposed introspection must be led by the faith community. Our churches provide a warm and caring environment in which people can address tough issues. In addition, nearly all faiths have a tradition of social justice that embraces each person as a child of God and calls for societal change to promote the dignity of each individual.
Can we envision a unified region that embraces diversity and which strives for shared prosperity through shared responsibility? That’s a tall order I know, but the alternative is to suffer through racial and cultural turmoil as the region changes along with the entire country. We can fight change – as we are witnessing in the current politics – or we can accept change and welcome it with open arms. Either way, change is inevitable. How we adapt to it is up to us.
Through Imua-Grace, I am putting together a series of workshops as outlined in the above and would be happy to work with those interested on implementing them in schools and congregations throughout the region. If you are interested, please click here to get in touch with us.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.