March 21, 2011

Some reflections on the now "majority minority" state of DC suburbs

While I've been visiting home for my nephew's birthday, I've tried to get a rough feel for how things have changed -- asking about things that normally don't show up in statistics. However, the other night my mother mentioned casually that Montgomery County, MD (the middle and upper-middle class suburb of Washington) now has fewer than 50% whites.

I knew it had been getting bad lately, but did not figure it would reach that point so soon. The 2010 Census figures, though, do show that most of the major DC suburbs are either majority minority now or soon will be. Most of that is due to a relatively greater influx of (I believe Central American) Hispanics than whites, and their relatively much higher birth rates.

We're witnessing the end of the era when people of any social class in the Bos-Wash corridor could ignore the Mexification of southern California because they had nothing similar in their own neck of the woods to compare it to. But when only 41% of local young people (18 and under) are white, as in Montgomery County, you can't help but start to take notice.

Unfortunately the full realization won't come for another 10 or 15 years, during which time people will hope that the problem will somehow just go away. Even when crunch time comes, given the current nadir in group solidarity (as exemplified by the Stuff White People Like crowd of in-fighters), individuals will only abandon their former communities for a better place rather than try to defend their turf. After all, when that time comes, what will be worth defending?

As I've been detailing for about a year now, great culture comes during times of a sustained rise in the violence level, so naturally I'm anxious for the next one to begin. But that assumes something like the population structure we had during the previous waves, where a good deal of rowdy pastoralist-descended people mixed in with some finish-the-job-properly farmer types. That was true whether it was in Europe or North America.

When the loss of whites and (to a lesser extent) of blacks is made up for by growth of Mexicans, though, don't expect anything exciting to come out of a crime wave. Just look at the cycles of violence in Mexico and how they've produced nothing like The Godfather or Macbeth, let alone the long-lasting works that are a more indirect product of a rise in violence.

Mexicans have virtually never practiced pastoralism, and so lack the restless and entrepreneurial spirit needed to create jazz or rock 'n' roll. All "Latin music" that has found success outside its native country is either straight-up European pop music song by white South Americans, like Shakira, or comes from places with heavy southern European and western or eastern African influence, while lacking a strong Amerindian influence, whether genetic or cultural, like Brazil or the Caribbean.

Rather, they were one of the more extreme forms of a sedentary farming society, like ancient Egypt or China, and have been as culturally static and boring as both of those. There has been occasional interest in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Mexican visual art, but mostly as it was re-interpreted by Western artists during the Romantic and later Academic periods of Orientalism, then during Art Deco, and once more during the era of the original Indiana Jones movies. As for narratives -- even worse, and not for want of material. Far less materially advanced cultures like the Proto-Indo-Europeans and the Semitic herders have spawned far more fascinating and enduring mythologies.

This rude awakening will take even longer because East Coast elites are conditioned by their experience with poorly performing minority groups to expect a certain cultural dynamism from greater contact with them. However, they are mostly used to interacting with blacks, few of whom come from societies as extremely sedentary-farmer-centric as Mexico.

As a result, only carb-scarfers will appreciate the Mexification of the DC area, as they bring in more and more exotic forms of empty sugars and starches. Anyone whose horizon of cultural excitement extends beyond carbalicious junk food will be pretty disappointed when the next wave of danger and frenzy only brings out cultural efforts a la Univision from the numerically dominant Mexicans.

There are lots more things to say about the spread of southern California through the rest of the country, but others will have more to say than I will. Next time I think I'll go over some personal recollection of how much the white-black-Mexican structure has changed over the past 20 years, since it wasn't that long ago that things were very different, and that was evident in daily life, not just something that could only be seen in statistics.

2 comments:

  1. Harmonious Jim3/22/11, 11:12 AM

    "only carb-scarfers will appreciate the Mexification of the DC area"

    ah ha! I detect reference to the culture that is Tyler Cowen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought Agnostic was zinging Bryan Caplan. Either way, it's brilliant.

    ReplyDelete

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