As of 1998, whites are a minority in the state of California. Part of the state's response to its increasing multiculturalization is rooted in a conservative backlash that has launched successful voter initiatives against bilingual education, affirmative action programs, and the extension of public services to illegal immigrants. On the other hand, Latino voting rates have more than doubled, establishing a new, unignorable electoral bloc, and nearly one out of every five children born in California in 1996 came from a multiracial family.
These points are all worth mentioning because history shows us that where California goes, the rest of the United States will eventually follow. But while most of the political debate over the state's transformation has been marked by extremism on both sides, Pulitzer-winning journalist Dale Maharidge has chosen to talk to the ordinary people--white, black, Latino, and Asian--who are quietly creating the California of tomorrow. The Coming White Minority is a remarkable work of social journalism that combines intimate portraits with expansive history lessons; what Maharidge has to say about Californian society will prove illuminating for all Americans.
From Publishers Weekly
"California is America's multicultural tomorrow," declares Maharidge, coauthor of And Their Children After Them, which won a 1990 Pulitzer Prize. So he aims to sketch the "California that is bewildered and trying to adjust," by focusing on four characters over the past four years: a Latina lawmaker, an immigrant Chinese college student, a black sheriff's deputy and an increasingly conservative white suburbanite. His book is worthy but flawed. Maharidge preachily declares at the outset that immigration is less the problem than "unbridled multinational capitalism." His major characters hardly cross paths, making the narrative somewhat disjointed. Maharidge charges that Latino and Democratic lawmakers let Governor Pete Wilson shape anti-immigrant sentiment by refusing to acknowledge white anxiety or to criticize white employers who benefit from cheap labor. He suggests that the campus climate at UC-Berkeley is not separatist but rather reflects the transition to a new multicultural mix. He notes that the huge sums now being devoted by California to prison construction might be better diverted to steer youth from crime. He urges a search for common ground in the press, at the workplace and at schools. Echoing commentators like Todd Gitlin and Michael Lind, Maharidge urges a focus on inequality rather than on ethnic difference; he also observes trenchantly that the coming white minority must recognize that its future lies in "interdependence based on common interests." Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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