It probably hasn’t happened since 1849, but it happened again this past Monday. The State of California again contained as many Latinos as whites. State demographers calculate it happened about noon Monday.
California now contains about 15 million Latinos and 15 million “non-Hispanic whites.”
“Non-Hispanic-whites” is Census-speak for white. The total population of California is now 38 million.
Fifteen years ago, California whites outnumbered the state’s Latinos by about 5 million. But since then, more Latinos moved in and had babies, while we non-Hispanic whites moved out faster than we moved in and multiplied slower.
Some of us remaining California whites may feel uncomfortable about our state’s changed population. But we have to remember, change is what American populations do. And Americans usually worry about it.
Back in 1844 the “Native Americans” party started a series of riots in Philadelphia. One killed 24 people and burned two Catholic churches. The “Natives” demanded that all naturalized citizens be barred from holding office and that aliens wait 21 years to become citizens.
We also feel uncomfortable about sharing our world with people who don’t look or talk like us.
In 1950, hundreds of thousands of American young men were sent to South Korea to defend it from the invading armies of North Korea and China. Korea looked primitive to our troops. Many called the Koreans a contemptuous name I won’t repeat.
Now fast forward to last month. A very successful man I know got tired of the Lincoln he’d owned for 18 years. He could afford any car he wanted. He bought a Hyundai AZERA, manufactured in once-primitive, once war-ravaged South Korea. Give people half a chance and they blossom.
Or consider the New England colonies in the 1630s. Roger Williams was pastor for Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He angered colony leaders with his then revolutionary idea that governments should never manage religion or vice-versa.
The colony leaders forced him to leave in a snowstorm in January 1636. He survived with the help of Indians whose language he had learned and whose land rights he championed. He went on to found Rhode Island.
He believed that what made Englishmen different from Indians was knowledge, not race. He said, “Nature knows no difference between Europe and Americans in blood, birth, bodies, &c. God having of one blood made all mankind.”
All mankind includes Latinos, non-Hispanic whites, African Americans, Asians and all others.
Phil Dirkx's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or firstname.lastname@example.org.