Show Me the Numbers!

At a recent wedding rehearsal dinner, I sat across from a well-off, pension-receiving white guy who started a conversation about immigration. Sorry for him that he did not know he was sitting across from a Spanish teacher/book author who has studied and followed Hispanic cultures for most of my life. And I’m old.

To sum it up (it was sort of like the movie Beatriz at Dinner which I saw, of course) let’s just say he was anti-immigration and I was defending the mothers and children who had walked 2000 miles from Guatemala so their sons wouldn’t be killed if they wouldn’t join a gang and so their daughters wouldn’t be raped. Oh, yes, you heard me right.

I don’t know about the guys. Maybe they would come here and join gangs and commit crimes, but what mother of a five and seven year old is going to come here and become a rapist or murderer?

The white pension guy (I am also white) kept saying, “Show me the numbers!” He was referring to how many asylum seekers would come here and end up on the welfare rolls.

“And who will take care of them when they get old?” he asked, waving his arms.

“Their families,” I said. “It is their culture to take care of their own.”

“How do you know that?” he demanded.

I repeated my credentials to him.

As he waved his arms some more, and the minister between us played referee, I brought up the U.S. Census prediction that this country will have a Hispanic majority by 2050. White people will no longer be the largest group in the U.S.

“How do you know that?” he demanded.

“They have been predicting it for thirty years,” I said.

“Who is they?” he demanded.

“The Census people,” I said. “I follow all of that since I write books with Spanish.”

No one is paying attention to anything anymore except their smart phones. Yes, the country is changing. Yes, it has been a long time coming. The fact is that white people are dying off faster than they are replacing themselves with white births. Do the math, folks. If the Boomers are on their way out (I am a Baby Boomer), and they each had two kids, and their kids each have two kids, it won’t keep pace with larger, younger Latino families.

Then we got into a discussion about how fast it takes an immigrant to assimilate. The very wise minister said five generations. I said three. The pensioned-white guy wanted it to be immediate. It doesn’t work that way and never has. Our ancestor immigrants (from whatever country) held onto their cultures until the day they died. Their children (first-born generation) held on a little less, and their grandchildren (second generation) held on less than their parents.  The minister said that fourth-born generations become completely assimilated and only find out their heritage when they do 23andMe or The melting pot finally kicks in.

It was a lively back and forth that evening.  When the white pension guy acted as emcee at the wedding dinner the next day he didn’t mention me or the minister, but he did mention a discussion about immigration.

Did I change his mind? Absolutely not.

Did I give him something to think about? I hope so.

It is what it is, folks. America of the 50’s and 60’s is no more.  The legal immigrants from everywhere and those who were granted amnesty as far back as the Reagan years have changed the color of America.

Those are the only numbers I can show the white pension guy or anyone.  We have to wait and see about the rest.

What can anyone do about it?

Now would be a good time to learn a little español.




5 thoughts on “Show Me the Numbers!

  1. I respectfully disagree to your last sentence. If I moved to Mexico, I would learn their language; if they move here.. for whatever reason… they need to learn English!


  2. Way to stand up! I think you did give him something to think about. Tell me, how was he as an MC? Entertaining or obnoxious?


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