This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Latino Americans

Tonight was the first of three consecutive Tuesdays in which PBS is airing a three-part six-hour series on Latino Americans, based on a new book by Ray Suarez, a long-time reporter for PBS. The motivation for his book came straight out of demography, as he notes in an on-air interview with Michel Martin:
MARTIN: Now, as journalists, we often ask ourselves, why this topic and why now? So let me pitch the question to you. Why do you think this is the right time to tell this story this way?
SUAREZ: You know, the 2010 Census came along, and some of the best Hispanic number crunchers I know are at the Pew Hispanic Center and they had an in-house poll. And they all put numbers based on their best guess into a hat, and, you know, the Census Bureau released the Hispanic population numbers three states at a time over 17 weeks. And only one member of the staff guessed a number over 50 million, and when it came in - securely, 51 and a half million - well, that staff member won the pool. 
But it just shocked everybody. It's a huge number. It was one out of every six Americans, and sociologist Marta Tienda from Princeton University [and Past President of the Population Association of America] calls this the Latino moment. And what better moment to get started with a Latino series and a book on the history than now? I mean, people have to take the measure of what it means to have one out of six trace their heritage, not to Europe, not to Africa or Asia, but to the other countries of this hemisphere. It's a big deal.
There is no question that this is an important story--the face of the nation is literally changing. Some who have previewed it say the only missing piece is that the substantial migration from South America (a key part of Latin America!) is largely ignored, but I suppose that could be the next book and set of TV programs.

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