Why Now?

In the United States a debate rages about the role of immigrants in our society.  In Europe and the Middle East, the fate of refugees is a flashpoint. Writers speak of a “clash of civilizations” between East and West, Islam and Christianity.  The rise of Asia, the role of women in society, racial and ethnic tensions send fault lines through communities in every corner of the globe. The fate of country after country rests on how they manage the role and the future of “the other,” those who are seen as different.

Yet defining “the other” is becoming increasingly complicated. In the U.S., in 2014, for the first time, among children under 5, groups that were once thought of as minorities — Latinos, African Americans and Asians comprised the majority.

By 2020 that will be true for all Americans under 18.  By 2044, according to the U.S. Census Bureau that will be true for all Americans. The minority become the majority. (Today, one of four Americans is either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.)

For the citizens who are members of these groups — watching the attacks of the intolerant in the media, seeing the hate-fueled opportunism of political leaders, sensing the rifts in their societies — the pressures are enormous. For young people, unsure of their own identities, perhaps confused about which culture to embrace, the problems are especially great.