An Unlikely Bureaucratic Tool for Ethnic Cleansing

Burma used a subtle technique to further persecute its Rohingya Muslim population and effectively erase the maligned minority from its borders.

"Displaced Rohingya people in Rakhine State (8280610831)" by Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Flickr. Licensed under OGL via Wikimedia Commons.

Ever since Burma’s military elite began a slow and piecemeal, but highly publicized, march back towards civilian rule in 2010, the former pariah state has received a fair amount of praise from around the world. Diplomats, world leaders, and intellectual luminaries have applauded what they see as efforts to correct old lies, build stronger state institutions, and even put the brakes on their most egregiously violent and enduring local ethnic conflicts.

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What Can We Learn From Majority-Minority States? Numbers Don't Always Equal Political Power

Minority babies outnumbered white ones for the first time last year. But numbers don't always translate to political power.

Beginning at some point in the next 40 years or so, there will be no ethnic or racial majority in America, and according to the Census, that process already is well under way. For the first time, white births are outnumbered by minority births in the United States: From July 2010 to July 2011, whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births while other racial groups combined made up 50.4 percent of the newborn population. In several states and 13 of the country's biggest cities, this has been the reality for decades.

One of the underlying fears propelling reactionary movements like the Tea Party is the loss of power. But how valid are these fears? Does a majority-minority country necessarily translate into more clout for previously marginalized groups? Not always, and certainly not right away. Women make up 51 percent of the population, yet they're underrepresented in leadership positions across the economic and political spectrum. Hawaii (which has never had a white majority), New Mexico, California, and Texas are majority-minority states, but the people who run them aren't exactly investing in the next generation by cutting funds to education and social services. (Indeed, some explicitly link this lack of resources directly to xenophobia.)

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Black Segregation Hits 100-Year Low

New Census figures from 2005 to 2009 show that black residential segregation has decreased since the year 2000 to reach a 100-year low.

New Census figures from 2005 to 2009 (artfully mapped by The New York Times) show that black residential segregation has decreased since to a 100-year low. The average black person lives in a neighborhood that is 46 percent black (down from 49 percent in 2000). Residential segregation is by no means a thing of the past—it actually increased in 25 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas—but the numbers are encouraging.

The Progressive Pulse offers additional context:

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Making Up for Flaws in the Census

After much gnashing of teeth, the U.S. Census Bureau won't be using statistical sampling in their findings this year. This means that the...

After much gnashing of teeth, the U.S. Census Bureau won't be using statistical sampling in their findings this year. This means that the government's perception of who makes up the country will be totally based on who fills out their census forms, so that groups that historically don't fill out the form will end up being underrepresented in the government's understanding of who lives in the country. In California, that could potentially result in an error of more than 1.5 million people, which affects everything from the number of Congressional representatives to allocation of government services.

At Planetizen, Josh Stephens looks at the issues facing California with the new census and how to fix them:

The most pressing issue, therefore, for California's demographers and planners to find out exactly how many people live in the state – a figure that is currently disputed to the tune of 1.5 million people. That's the difference between the 38.3 million residents that the California Department of Finance estimated as of January 1, 2009 and the 36.7 million that the Census Bureau estimated at the same time. Though both figures are based on the 33.8 million logged in the 2000 Census they have diverged over the past decade due to differing estimates of domestic in- and out-migration.

Read the rest of Stephens's piece here at Planetizen.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Josh Koonce.

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