A race- and age-diverse group of nearly 60 Galveston and Galveston County residents gathered Friday at Rosenberg Library to hear from Rice University professor Stephen Klineberg about changing demographics in the Houston-Gulf Coast region and what that change means for the future.

Galveston’s Juneteenth Sesquicentennial Committee hosted the gathering.

“When we first decided to bring Dr. Klineberg, some people asked ‘What does this have to do with celebrating the end of slavery?’” Melvin Williams, the committee’s chairman, said. “We can celebrate the end of slavery by preparing for a future where we all reach that glorious place of equality and prosperity for all.”

Klineberg and his students have conducted surveys for 37 years around the region measuring demographics and attitudes, concluding that Houston, of all American cities, best represents the nation’s inevitable future change from a majority amalgam of Europeans to a majority of non-Anglos from numerous ethnicities.

“All of our data show, and U.S. Census data show, that Anglos are progressively and overwhelmingly dominant in categories representing older ages, while younger Houstonians and Americans are increasingly not Anglos,” Klineberg said. “No force will change this inevitable reality of the aging Anglo demographic. There just aren’t going to be that many 65-year-olds having babies.“

In Galveston in 1990, 67 percent of the population was Anglo, 17 percent African American, 14 percent Latino and 2 percent Asian and other ethnicities. Now, the population breakdown is 58 percent Anglo, 13 percent African American, 24 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian and others.

Along the corridor from Houston to Galveston, an increasing number of communities have no single racial or ethnic majority, Klineberg said.

“The question is: How do we make this work? How does this generation react to this convergence?”

He posited three fundamental realities that the next generation will have to face: the rise of the knowledge economy, demanding better and more education for everyone; an epic demographic transition to a more ethnically diverse nation; and a “new salience of quality of place,” a concern that wherever we live, quality of life for everyone must be a priority.

Amid an era of stagnation of wages for the working class and increasing income inequalities, punctuated by a job market that requires at least some higher education or training beyond high school, Klineberg’s most recent surveys showed a major increase in public support for more government resources dedicated to public education — from 48 percent in 2009 to 56 percent in 2018.

Klineberg also noted a difference in attitudes among younger Anglos compared to their elders, especially regarding immigrants, how many should be admitted to the country and whether or not they strengthen American culture.

“Younger Anglos are taking for granted what older Anglos are struggling to accept,” he said.

Younger African Americans in the area still say they have personally experienced race discrimination, but don’t see that as a barrier to success, Klineberg said. He also noted that racial solidarity among African Americans supersedes income levels, unlike among Anglos and Latinos whose attitudes tend to change depending upon their income levels.

Kathryn Eastburn: 409-683-5257; kathryn.eastburn@galvnews.com.

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(14) comments

Bailey Jones

Since the 1960s when the racial quotas were removed from the immigration system, America has begun to look more and more like the world as a whole. And I think this is a good thing. American can't lead the world unless she embodies the world.

Paul Hyatt

You are so correct and as long as the border remains open for invasion we will become more and more like third world nations as most who are invading do NOT want to assimilate, they want to dominate so that they can turn our nation into the rats nest that they came from....The ones who legally come here is an entirely different story as they want to become an American and all that it used to be known for....
Do you even know why there was immigration quotas that was started in the 1920's? In case you missed the point they stopped it (slowed it way down) so that they could get the ones here assimilated into our nation, culture, language etc.... We today are not that smart!

Raymond Lewis

Thankfully Mr. Hyatt, you are incorrect. But keep believing that if it works for you.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey, examine your history. Prior to the 1960s, the United States resembled the world.
There were people from each of the European countries, People from Asia, Africa, Mexico, Central America, South America. There were Japanese - Americans (remember FDR put them in camps), Chinese Americans (some descendants of those who came to work on the railroads), etc.
Every country in existence had people or their descendants living in the United States. Remember Danny Thomas? He was of Lebanese descent. Desi Arnaz was from Cuba. Nikola Tesla was an ethnic Serb.

Rusty Schroeder

I read the article, some of it didn't need a Rice Professor to explain. The Rosenberg Library sure brings in some interesting folks. A shared dialogue should have included the Transgender Story Tellers, that would have been an event to attend.

Jose' Boix

Somehow the ensuing discussion reminded me of one of former President George H. W. Bush (QEPD/RIP): "We don't want an America that is closed to the world. What we want is a world that is open to America." Just my thought.

Dan Freeman

Mr. Paul Hyatt states: “Do you even know why there was immigration quotas that was started in the 1920's? In case you missed the point they stopped it (slowed it way down) so that they could get the ones here assimilated into our nation, culture, language etc.... “
This is followed by Mr. Carlos Ponce’s request that: “Bailey, examine your history. Prior to the 1960s, the United States resembled the world.”
I would suggest both Mr. Hyatt and Mr. Ponce read Katherine Benton-Cohen’s book Inventing the Immigration Problem, 2018. It examines the Dillingham Commission, which conducted what remains one of the largest investigative studies of immigration. The Commission spent most of its effort attempting to define race, by which they meant distinguishing between the preferred northern European immigrants and troublesome immigrants from southern Europe, as well as eastern Europeans, including Slavs, and Jews. These “racial distinctions” led to restrictions that included literacy tests, a quota system designed to prevent a change in the ethnic distribution of the United States, and the continued exclusion of Asians.

The exclusionary rules, with minor exceptions, continued until the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. This Act allowed the dramatic increase of Asian populations to the United States, which arguably led to the economic growth of the second half the Twentieth Century.

As a political aside, the Commission was led by Republican Progressives including Senators William P. Dillingham and Henry Cabot Lodge. Both of whom favored imperialism and immigration restriction.

Bailey Jones

Yes, Dan. When my ancestors came here in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, there were no immigration laws. If you could get here (and weren't insane or carrying smallpox) you could stay here. We started restricting immigration in the 1870's due to the influx of Chinese workers, who threatened whites by working harder for less pay. As Jews and Eastern Europeans started coming in large numbers we added additional laws to limit their numbers. Then laws restricting immigration from Africa and East Asia. Our immigration laws have always been about restricting immigration from non white and non western countries. (see the Emergency Quota Act of 1921) Several years ago I did a study on the 1920 census for the town of Greenville as part of a genealogy project. At the time it was a major cotton hub. In a town of several thousand there was a single Chinese man, and one Mexican family. The rest of the town was of western European descent, or African American. Compare that to the Houston of today - proudly the most diverse city in the nation. The difference was the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which ended the National Origins Formula based on race and ethnicity. I think it's terrific.

Carlos Ponce

My ancestors came to the United States in 1926 - legally from Mexico.

Dan Freeman

Mr. Ponce, you are correct. Your parents and all other Latin Americans had a special exemption in the 1924 immigration law: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2277317?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

This began to change with the 1942 Bracero Program, which was extended in 1951. Current immigration policy of limits for Latin American began with the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. These limits became the basis for making undocumented immigration a crime in the 1990s.

You are fortunate your ancestors were not deported along with half a million Texans of Mexican ancestry, many of whom were U.S. citizens, during Operation Wetback.

Carlos Ponce

"You are fortunate your ancestors were not deported along with half a million Texans of Mexican ancestry, many of whom were U.S. citizens, during Operation Wetback."
Since the term "Wetback" refers to illegal immigrants my ancestors were never considered for deportation since they entered legally. Despite your post, no citizen was knowingly deported during this operation. However, some were detained during the Great Depression but not deported according to the to the 1931 Wickersham Commission Report.

Dan Freeman

Mr. Ponce you seem confused. The Wickersham Commission concerned Prohibition and associated police violence. Operation Wetback, conducted in the 1950's, "According to historian Francisco Balderrama, the U.S. deported over 1 million Mexican nationals, 60 percent of whom were U.S. citizens of Mexican descent, during the 1930s. Balderrama told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that the program was referred to as “repatriation” to give it the sense of being voluntary. " https://www.history.com/news/operation-wetback-eisenhower-1954-deportation

As for your forbears being legal, that was an accident of time. The law for Latin Americans allowed for open immigration until the 1940's. At best they obtained documents after settling.

As I said you, like most Americans, are fortunate to be a U.S. citizen.

Carlos Ponce

Francisco Balderrama's claims cannot be corroborated. You will find his findings repeated but never verified. He is an uber Liberal anti-Trumper whose writings are questionable.

Carlos Ponce

It's Dan who is confused. First you write about Operation Wetback during the 1950s then jump back in time to Balderrama's claim about the 1930s.
My family was here in the 1920s forward within the time frame Balderrama claimed American citizens of Mexican descent were deported.

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