It took an extra year for the decennial United States Census to come out. And in the time between the numbers were calculated — April 1, 2020 — and now, a global pandemic has spurred a great internal migration in the country, so state-by-state data is flawed. But it’s still our best shot at figuring out who lives in this country, how many of us there are and what our lives might look like, extrapolated form hard geographic, demographic and economic data.
It’s important because the Census becomes a blueprint for policy, dictating allocations of representatives, resources and other pieces of benevolence form the federal government.
The Census itself is not political, but it can be politicized.
It’s noteworthy and positive that North Carolina gained enough population to add one House seat, one of five states that did so, and Texas, which gained two. Seven states — California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — lost one of their House seats after losing population.
But the most interesting data concerns race.
Despite what our history books and popular culture depict, and their cultural and political dominance in the country for its entire existence, the US has never been nation of white people. It has, however, been majority white in population since the beginning. That lead in raw numbers dropped even as the overall population grew by 7.4 percent — small by Census standards — to 331.5 million.
White people now make up less than 60 percent of the country for the first time ever, dropping from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 53.8 percent. This change is reflected in the Triad: Forsyth County went from 58.7 percent white-only to 54.4 percent, while Guilford, which was 54.3 percent white-only in 2010, is now 47.2 percent white-only, making the county majority non-white for the first time ever.
North Carolina, which was 65.3 percent white in 2010, is now 60.5 percent white.
This, of course, is exactly what the white supremacists are afraid of, but fighting against the racial changes in our country is akin to fighting gravity, or battling the ocean tides.
The most significant change in racial data concerned Americans of two or more races, which in 2010 measured just 9 million people. Now 33.8 million Americans identify as such, an increase of 276 percent.