The New 'New South' | Sojourners

The New 'New South'

In the land of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement'

In the land of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement's most dramatic struggles, a black-white universe of race relations is slowly giving way to a more complex terrain that will determine all future U.S. cultural and political projects. Throughout the Deep South, or what Strom Thurmond used to call the Old Confederacy, immigrants from Latin America are changing the face of large urban centers, small towns, and rural settings.

The increase in Latinos between 1990 and 2000 in North Carolina was 393.9 percent, in Arkansas 337 percent, in Georgia 299.6 percent, and in Tennessee 278.2 percent. In Mississippi, the number of Latinos more than doubled during the 1990s. And these numbers are probably too low given the Census Bureau's track record of undercounting Latinos.

Demographic transformations in the Southern states are the most dramatic. But large communities of indigenous people from Latin America also can be found in Brooklyn, Hartford, Chicago, and Boston. In the region traditionally associated with ethnic Mexican people - the Southwest - the "latinoization" of the cultural landscape continues its natural course.

In some urban spaces, Southeast Asians, Central Americans, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans live side by side with other working-class families. Recently, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington gave an Ivy League imprimatur to a resurgent nativist backlash by singling out Latinos as "the most significant threat to American culture."

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Sojourners Magazine August 2004
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