The Best of America Is Yet to Come

October 19, 2016

In my last blog post, I stated that I am hopeful a new generation of social entreprenurs will usher in an era of reform in the US that will rival the accomplishments of Mr. Fels and his generation.

I am not just hopeful; I am downright bullish on America. If countries were stocks, I would invest in America with every penny I have. In fact, I am so confident about the future of America that I am going to put myself on the line and make a set of predictions in this blog post.

I predict that in the 22nd century, schoolchildren in America will study how their 21st-century ancestors built the most diverse, inclusive, and prosperous nation in world history.

I predict that a majority of the nation’s children will be truly multiracial and multiethnic. I predict that they will eat Japanese crepes for breakfast, Thai spaghetti stir-fry for lunch, and Southern Chicken with double-fried beans. They will order these delicious dishes from their personal food replicators, descendants of 21st-century three-dimensional food printers.

To be clear, my prediction is that the diversity of the population and quality of life are causally related to each other. The United States will be so prosperous and vibrant in the 22nd century precisely because of the diversity of its citizens and their capacity for inclusiveness.

You may think that I am speaking hyperbolically or that, in talking so optimistically about the future, I’m ignoring the serious challenges that we face today. However, the opposite is true. As a policy analyst, I am ethically bound to avoid speculation without adequate support, and the predictions I’m making about diversity are grounded in reality.

America is already on its way to achieving unprecedented levels of diversity. In Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America, demographer William H. Frey refers to this emerging trend as the “Demographic Explosion”. Frey writes, “America reached an important milestone in 2011. That occurred when, for the first time in the history of the country, more minority babies than white babies were born in a year”.

The census bureau projects that the U.S. will become a majority-minority country in 2044. “The minority population is projected to rise to 56 percent of the total [population] in 2060, compared with 38 percent in 2014.”

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2010-2014). Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Retrieved from https://censusreporter.org/data/table/?table=B03002&geo_ids=050%7C01000US&primary_geo_id=01000US.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2010-2014). Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Retrieved here. You can access script that creates a map here.

In fact, the census bureau reports that some counties in the United States were already majority-minority areas as of 2014. Similarly, most major cities across the country are majority-minority cities.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2015). Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race  #American Community Survey 1-year estimates. Retrieved from https://censusreporter.org/data/table/?table=B03002&geo_ids=16000US3651000,16000US0644000,16000US1714000,16000US4835000,16000US4260000,16000US0455000,16000US4865000,16000US0666000,16000US4819000,16000US0668000,16000US4805000,16000US1235000,16000US0667000,16000US1836003,16000US3918000,16000US4827000,16000US3712000,16000US2622000,16000US4824000,16000US5363000,16000US0820000,16000US1150000,16000US4748000,16000US2507000,16000US4752006&primary_geo_id=16000US3651000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2015). Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race #American Community Survey 1-year estimates. Retrieved here

Hence, diversity is, in fact, our destiny. It is certain that America will be a majority-minority nation. What is not certain is whether or not we will leverage our diversity to its fullest potential. Will we find a way to work together and be better because of our differences rather than despite them? Or will our identities pull us apart?

We all have responsibilities in shaping our collective answers to these questions, and, for all my optimism about the future, I am also acutely aware of the challenges involved in doing so. 

For more than a decade, I have been fortunate to be a policy advisor for large government agencies, police departments, fire departments, and large private corporations. I have been involved in helping these organizations strive to manage issues around diversity and create more inclusive work environments for minorities and women.

It is my belief that workplace diversity and inclusion are indispensible if we want to achieve the bright future I predicted earlier in this post. However, after all these years, I am no longer confident that these organizations and their leaders have figured out an effective way to achieve our diversity and inclusion goals. I see leaders struggling to even articulate their objectives, and I see them failing to connect with their constituents and employees. In turn, I have observed growing cynicism among those same constituents and employees. They are losing confidence in their leaders and in our collective future.

If we are to fully leverage our diversity, we must address the needs of the many Americans who have been dispossessed. We need to rethink our current diversity and inclusion policies and practices. We need to break out of the traditional ideological boxes that have not served us and improve our policies and practices. The status quo simply will not do, and this transformation must be a collective effort. Nonetheless, I am convinced that it is a challenge we will rise to as a nation.

I plan to share my thoughts and observations about these diversity and inclusion policies and practices on Re:CAP. My recommendations will not simply align with any one political party or established school of thought. They will be based on available evidence. When I must hypothesize because we don’t have enough data, I will clearly state my assumptions, so that you can judge for yourself if my reasoning is sound. I cannot think of any other public policy issue that is more directly tied to our collective identity and prosperity as Americans. The stakes are high, but the cause is worthy of our best effort.

Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu