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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Meet the Demographic Future of Nashville

On the matter of the national and local immigration debate, I have often said that Nashville today reminds me of South Texas when I was a student in the 80's. In those days Anglos (which is the Tex-Mex label for white folks) were uneasy with how Hispanic culture was invading their area, but powerless to do anything but watch it happen. Economic dependence on Hispanic labor, and being eclipsed by that group's birth rate vs. the natives, all anyone could do was utter a racism slur or two and watch as Texas became, well, more uniquely Texas. It wasn't Mexico; there was too much native Texas history for that; but it sure was different with everyone's maid and landscaper being Hispanic. Over time, however, people got used to it, got over it, and race relations have been mostly peaceful and in some areas downright warm. Speed forward 24 years since my leaving College Station and I present to you, in the upper right hand corner of this page, Dr. Elsa Mureno, recently installed as the 23rd President of Texas A&M University. Dr. Mureno is Cuban, and she is the first minority and the first woman to hold the Presidency of one of the 10 largest universities in the country, and one of the 25 largest in the world.

What does this have to do with Nashville, and with a workplace blog? Plenty. The Hispanitization (I just made that word up) of Middle Tennessee is as inevitable and natural as it was in South Texas during the 80's. What will emerge from that process will not be "little Mexico" or any nonsense like that; it will be uniquely Nashville and with better food.

There's enough half-racism nonsense espoused on talk radio and in the Metro Counsel to make you think there's a crisis going on. The Big Thoughts on this issue are simple: look at San Antonio or Austin today, and see where Nashville will be in 20 years. Also, be kind to the Hispanic population in your company and in our community. First of all, they're not all maids and landscapers; some are Publishers, Editors, Publicists, etc... More importantly, one of their daughters will be President of Vanderbilt in your lifetime.

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