Considering his infamous racial insensitivity, Walt Disney might be surprised to discover that today, both of his U.S.-based themeparks are located in areas that have been deemed majority-minority. Both Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, and Orange County, Florida, home of Disney World, qualify as areas where more than half the population belongs to a group other than single-race, non-Hispanic whites.
In fact, the U.S. Census just announced a few weeks ago that six new counties can be added to the growing list of 309 majority-minority counties – almost 10 percent of all counties – nationwide. So while Finney County, Kansas may not have much in common with Honolulu, both claim spots on that list for their diverse demographic mixes. The new additions are probably the first of many more to come, especially since the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) anticipated last August that another over 200 counties were fast approaching the “tipping point” of populations between 40 and 50 percent minority.
The list of majority-minority states is much shorter since only New Mexico, Texas, California and Hawaii make the cut, but Washington, D.C. is also majority-minority with 67 percent minorities.
The population shifts can have significant policy consequences, especially since the PRB points out that the median household income is just less than half of the minority-majority counties hovers below $30,000. And in two-thirds of minority-majority counties, at least one in five was poor. What complicates the situation even more is that these statistics are now well over a year old, and the current economic situation hasn’t exactly alleviated the problem. In fact, low-income and minority families are often the hardest hit, and social services across the country are having trouble keeping up with the flood of foreclosures, job losses and growing poverty.
Some counties are taking matters into their own hands – literally. Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of D.C., has begun a door-to-door campaign to help the 30-percent immigrant population avoid unemployment, homelessness and other hardships unfortunately not uncommon. With a 67-percent white population, according to a 2007 Census report, Montgomery isn’t quite at “tipping point” status just yet, but a high influx of immigrants and the neighboring majority-minority D.C. make it a good candidate for the list.