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What is a Majority Minority?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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A majority minority is a demographic group which has a numerical majority within a region, although it is in the minority elsewhere. One of the best examples of a majority minority is Latinos in California; taken as a percentage of the United States population, Latinos are in the minority, but in California, they are actually the majority. You may also hear a majority minority referred to as a minority majority, with the difference between the two terms being primarily stylistic.

The rise of a majority minority often attracts a great deal of attention from the press, politicians, and others. Some people feel threatened when demographic groups which have traditionally been in the minority experience a population increase, with people who fear immigration arguing that the rise of a minority threatens the very fabric of culture. Other people welcome the growth of a majority minority, especially members of that demographic group, arguing that it increases diversity, along with focusing attention on the issues faced by that minority group.

Majority minority states like California are very interesting sociologically, because despite the fact that the “minority” has become the majority, members of that demographic group are often still treated like minorities. The traditional majority may hold a disproportionate number of positions of power; in California, for example, politicians, administrators, and elected officials are often white, and Latinos endure a great deal of racism in many communities.

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When members of a majority minority organize, it can have critical social consequences. In the American Southwest, for example, the Latino vote is a growing topic of interest among politicians, with many politicians actively working to woo the Latino vote, since they recognize that failing to do so could cost them elections. When a majority minority votes as a block, it can heavily influence an election and the issues covered in that election, such as immigration rights and legislation to combat racism.

In addition to Latino immigrants, some parts of the United States have experienced an influx of Asian immigrants, as well. Both groups bring unique cultural traditions and values to their communities, and raise issues, like whether or not official printed material should be distributed in multiple languages. For small communities, a majority minority can cause budget problems, as the community may need to hire translators and other staff to support the needs of the entire population, not just the former majority.

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