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A L.A. Bus Rider’s Union Eric Mann BOOKS & THE CULTURE Rejoining the Americas The Rise of the Latino United States BY BENJAMIN JOHNSON MAGICAL URBANISM: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. City. By Mike Davis. Versa. 172 pages. $19.00. As the United States Army made its final push toward Mexico City in 1847, Michigan Senator Lewis Cass forthrightly de clared that, “We do not want the people of Mexico, either as citizens or subjects. All we want is a portion of territory, which they nominally hold, either uninhabited or, where inhabited at all, sparsely so, and with a population which would soon recede.” For decades, history seemed to bear out Cass’ hope that the “Southwest” \(a revealrasa for the extension of Anglo civilization. Mexicans nominally made Mexican Americans by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo remained in the region. In parts of New Mexico and the border areas of Texas and Arizona, they even maintained their majority status. But the descendants of those who stayed saw the victorious Anglos take the overwhelming preponderance of political, economic and sheer demographic power. Even proud former landowners joined the ranks of the hewers of stone and drawers of water, picking fruit or cleaning other peoples’ houses in what had once been Mexico. A century later, World War II, defense spending and the flight to the suburbs helped the far West shed its colonial status and ascend to national power. Yet Los Angeles remained the nation’s whitest and most heavily native-born major city. It was also the home base of the Republican Right, creating the anti-tax groundswell that crested with Proposition 13, the referendum establishing tax limits which would greatly restrict government spending. Joining with other western states, California propelled Richard Nixon, and then Ronald Reagan, to the White House. As Mike Davis makes clear in this artful little book, Magical Urbanism, things look very different from the vantage of 2000 than from the perspective of 1900, 1950, or even 1980. The meteoric rise of the Latino population is re-shaping the United States, and indeed, all of the Americas. This is clear enough in California, which this year became a “majority minority” state for the first time since the Gold Rush. In twenty-five years, the Census Bureau predicts, those who identify themselves as “Hispanic” will constitute 43 percent of the Golden State’s population and Anglos merely a third. Texas will cross a similar divide, with Anglos predicted to become a minority in less than twenty years. Signs of this demographic shift can be seen all over the country, not just in the Southwest or in traditional immigrant entrepots like New York City. More than one million Mexican immigrants live in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Formerly nearly allwhite cities such as Salt Lake City, Portland, Oregon and Anchorage now have well-defined Spanish-surname populations in the tens of thousands. There are more Latinos than African Americans in both the Pacific Northwest and New England. No wonder the Republican Party chose to morph its convention into a multicultural extravaganza, banishing the rich white guys from the stage to the luxury boxes and hotel suites. These trends will only continue. From 2025 to 2050, according to federal projections, Latinos will be responsible for twothirds of the national population growth. The se habla ingles store signs already visible in Miami and L.A. may soon become commonplace. Slightly more than fifty years from now, the United States itself will be a “majority minority” nation. “These are millennial transformations,” Davis rightly claims, “with truly millennial implications for U.S. politics and culture.” They also have great importance for Latin America. The demographic and economic weight of migrants to the United States is enormous. Fully half the population of the Mexican state of Zacatecas, for example, lives in El Norte, prompting Mexican gubernatorial candidates to campaign in California and propose the creation of legislative positions for United States residents. Deported Salvadorans have brought Los Angeles gangs and drugtrafficking connections back with them to San Salvador. The current president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez Reyna, grew up in Manhattan, still holds a green card and plans to return to the United States after serving his term. Socalled migradollars \(funds sent home by Mexico and Central America afloat, and are already a more important source of .dollars than are export crops in several Latin American nations. In fifty years, the projected 96 million Latino residents of the United States would, if considered a nation, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 OCTOBER 6, 2000