Which 4 States Have the Biggest Minority Populations?

Group of ethnic children smiling, with one looking directly at the camera.

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Can you name the four U.S. majority-minority states? They received this moniker because people of color outnumber whites there, giving new meaning to the term "minority." California, New Mexico, Texas, and Hawaii all have this distinction. The same is true for the District of Columbia.

What makes these states unique? For one, their demographics will likely be the nation’s future. And given that some of these states are extremely populous, they could influence American politics for years to come.

Hawaii

The Aloha State is unique among the nation’s handful of majority-minority states in that it has never had a white majority since it became the 50th state on August 21, 1959. In other words, it has always been a majority-minority. First settled by Polynesian explorers in the eighth century, Hawaii is heavily populated by Pacific Islanders. More than 60 percent of Hawaiian residents are people of color.

Hawaii’s population is around 37.3 percent Asian, 22.9 percent white, 9.9 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 10.4 percent Latino, and 2.6 percent black. These numbers show that Hawaii isn’t just a tropical paradise, but also the proverbial American melting pot.

California

Minorities make up more than 60 percent of the Golden State’s population. Latinos and Asian Americans are the driving forces behind this trend, along with the fact that the white population is aging rapidly. In 2015, news agencies announced that Hispanics officially outnumbered whites in the state, with the former making up 14.99 million of the population and the latter making up 14.92 million of the population.

This marked the first time the Latino population surpassed the white population since California became a state in 1850. By 2060, researchers predict that Latinos will make up 48 percent of California, while whites will make up 30 percent of the state; Asians, 13 percent; and blacks, four percent.

New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment, as New Mexico is known, has the distinction of having the highest percentage of Hispanics of any U.S. state. Approximately 48 percent of the population there is Latino. Overall, 62.7 percent of New Mexico’s population belongs to an ethnic minority group. The state stands out from others because of its substantial Native American population (10.5 percent). Blacks make up 2.6 percent of New Mexicans; Asians, 1.7 percent; and Native Hawaiians, 0.2 percent. Whites make up 38.4 percent of the state’s population.

Texas

The Lone Star State may be known for cowboys, conservatives, and cheerleaders, but Texas is far more diverse than stereotypes paint it to be. Minorities comprise 55.2 percent of its population. Hispanics comprise 38.8 percent of Texans, followed by 12.5 percent who are black, 4.7 percent who are Asian and one percent who are Native American. Whites comprise 43 percent of the Texas population.

A number of counties in Texas are majority-minority, including Maverick, Webb, and the Wade Hampton area. While Texas boasts a rising Latino population, its black population has increased as well. From 2010 to 2011, the black population of Texas rose by 84,000 — the highest of any state.

District of Columbia

The U.S. Census Bureau regards the District of Columbia as a “state equivalent.” This area is also majority-minority. African Americans comprise 48.3 percent of D.C.’s population, while Hispanics comprise 10.6 percent and Asians, 4.2 percent. Whites make up 36.1 percent of this region. The District of Columbia boasts the highest percentage of blacks of any state or state equivalent.

Wrapping Up

During the 2016 presidential race, the media reported that Donald Trump supporters, particularly of the white working class, fear the browning of the United States. As Baby Boomers age and eventually die, it's inevitable that people of color, who are, on average, younger and have more children than whites, will make up a higher share of the population.

But more people of color doesn't mean that minority groups will have more power. While they may have a greater say in elections over time, the barriers they face in education, employment, and the criminal justice system will by no means evaporate. Anyone who believes that a "brown" majority will somehow erode the power that white Americans enjoy need only to look at the history of nations around the world colonized by Europeans. This includes the United States. 

Sources

Aronowitz, Nona Willis. "What Can We Learn From Majority-Minority States? Numbers Don't Always Equal Political Power." Good Worldwide, Inc., May 20, 2012.

History.com Editors. "Hawaii becomes 50th state." History, A&E Television Networks, LLC, November 24, 2009.