It confirms what our eyes have been telling us for some time now. The face of America is changing, and fast.
Here are some highlights:
One in seven Americans is now Hispanic, one in 20 is Asian, and the minority population is growing in virtually every state of the U.S.
Between 2000 and 2010, Asians increased by 43 percent, making them the fastest growing minority in the country.
Yet more than half of all population growth in the U.S. over the past decade came from Hispanics, a trend that is sure to continue since nearly a quarter of all children age 17 or younger are Latino. Numbering more than 50 million, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the country, about 16.3 percent of the population.
While non-Hispanic whites still make up more than half the U.S. population—and blacks about 12.3 percent—these “new” minorities account for more than 70 percent of the population increase from 2000 to 2010. The United States, with diversity coded into its DNA, is becoming ever more diverse.
[To see the U.S. county by county, visit this interactive map from the New York Times.]
These changes are being felt, of course, at every level of society, stretching the social, economic, and political fabric of the nation, sometimes to the breaking point. It’s also making the U.S. a richer, more colorful nation.
But the rapidly increasing diversity of 21st century America makes it even more imperative that the institutions of this country, including its legal system, find ways to more fully reflect the 308 million people who live here.
The American legal profession has an especially long way to go.
According to the most recent ABA surveys, whites still make up more than 90 percent of the partners at U.S. law firms. Hispanics, Asians, and blacks are all stuck in the single digits, while women—who represent half the population and 30 percent of all lawyers—account for just 16.8 percent of the partners in major law firms.
The reasons for this are complex, ranging from a history of discrimination and biases in the U.S. education system to the recruitment and retention policies at major law firms and corporations. A bad economy has made matters worse.
These obstacles are formidable, which is why LCLD was founded in 2009 to address them, and to provide leadership in America’s march towards a more diverse and representative society. Clearly, the time has come to do more.
As the 2010 census shows, the United States is more diverse now than ever. And as the face of the nation changes, the legal profession must do the same or risk becoming an anachronism, closed off and isolated, out of touch with the multicolored parade of Americans moving past in the streets outside, beyond their thick mahogany doors.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a whole new America out there.