[multi-culti in the apple]

Topic: Around Town

Gothamist draws our attention to a Times report on the changing demographics of the New York metropolitan area.

The headline statistic is the decline in the proportion of whites, who will constitute a minority not just in the city, but in the region, within a few years. That would make NYC the first major city outside of the Southwest to go minority-white.

Another interesting statistic is the dip in the black population — the first such decline since the 19th century, as blacks slip below the 30 percent mark. There has been a black exodus to the suburbs and the South, and immigration from the Carribean and Africa hasn’t kept up. If you factored out those immigrants and considered only heritage African-Americans (for lack of a better term to describe those blacks whose American ancestry reaches back to before the Civil Rights Act), that would make the change even more dramatic.

Couple that with the 288,000 Hispanic people and 201,000 Asians who arrived between 2000 and 2004, and the picture you get is of a city that is changing rapidly. Any New Yorker will tell you that the black-white tension that used to be a fixture of the local cultural and political landscape has diminished considerably in recent years as the racial and ethnic picture has become more mixed, and as blacks have found themselves less trapped in the inner city as new opportunities have opened up elsewhere.

That’s not to say that the old tensions couldn’t erupt anew, but I do think that a fundamental change is taking place, reshaping America’s racial dynamics as surely as the waves of southern and eastern European immigration did around the turn of the 20th century.

Overall, New York remains remarkably diverse:

What makes the city and the region unusual … is that among the nation’s 88 metropolitan areas with half a million or more people, New York is one of only three — Houston and Honolulu are the others — where the proportion of blacks, Hispanics and Asians each exceeds their share of the national population.

A particularly important trend is the diffusion of new immigrants and ethnic minorities throughout the region’s suburbs, mirroring trends that hit the city first. Now that I’ve got a car, I’ve seen this firsthand. Get out of the city, and rather than hitting Whiteyville, you pass through a welter of ethnic enclaves: Korean, Hispanic, black, Filipino.

America’s future, it seems, will be a thorough jumble of black, brown and beige — hopefully amounting to an Afro-Eurasian Eclipse worthy of the vision of the artist who coined the phrase.