WACO, TX — Happening now... as much as anyone can say.... Texas has a new majority.
The 2020 Census showed Hispanics had pulled to within just a few tenths of a percentage points, to the soon-to-be-former majority "white" population.
It might help to meet one of this new majority, to help understand where Texas is headed.
You'll find one of the best examples on Waco's 25th Street.
Experts say, people like Daysi Barerra will.... any minute now, will thrust Texas into the headlines again.. as the Lone Star State welcomes its newest majority.
Years in the making, Barerra says she took notice when not just her business but every Hispanic business in town saw things pick up.,
"The first i hear about this is at the Hispanic Chamber because we talk about how business is growing in Waco, the Hispanic businesses is growing in Waco." she said.
And its growing because more people like her, have made their homes here.
So many, that Hispanics now, or soon will, outnumber the next biggest ethnic group, non-Hispanic whites.
It's got Demographers like Dr. Dudley Poston of
Texas A&M University... very excited. Because he says as Texas goes, so goes America.
"Texas has been a majority minority state since 2004, that's more minorities, more than 50 percent. the nation will probably get there in 2044 but we got there in 2004". said Poston.
Barerra's story provides a typical example of many Spanish-speakers who came here. She arrived in Waco with her family at age 14 , from Honduras. She found her first business success making pinatas.... so many, she started looking for better ways to serve the neighborhood.
She decided the area needed a Mueblaria, a furniture store. She started adding items, and before long she had rooms full of beautiful furniture, and not a pinata in sight.
She called her store Calle Vente Cinco Muebleria, the 25 street furniture store. Don't you just love the name?
The 2020 Census shows the Hispanic population grew by 2 million in the last ten years, that's half the state's population growth... and Barerra says many of them seek out Muebleria Vente Cinco. Porque? Why?
"One of the important things that brings us the customers, is the language but also all the services we have like the financing. Like other furniture stores but we speak to them in their language." she said.
Ms. Barrera believes the best way to attract and keep customers is to speak to them in their own language not just the language they speak but the language in which they think.
she says that one simple thing makes a connection that leads to business and profits and success.
And here's one thing Ms. Barerra hope you'll find comforting.
She says Hispanic business owners don't want to follow the herd...she says, they want to grow and support neighborhoods, like Calle Vente Cinco.
"Even if i need a bigger place I will enlarge my store just to grow to have more space but I don't want to leave the neighborhood. because we all have a dream to grow the neighborhood of 25th street."
And what about this future in which Hispanics could call the shots? This new majority raises many questions about our future.
But Barerra believes caring about neighborhoods first stands to make Texas stronger in the long run
Texas, which declared its independence from Mexico, will, any day now, become majority Hispanic.
These days, that means much more than it did during the days of General Santa Ana,.
"and I see how neighborhood I grew up in is just so way cool, so I can imagine it for the type of family like the same the same way the city is changing and growing community and the community we're changing too," said Daysi Barerra, owner of the Muebleria on 25th street.
Barrera can now count herself among the new majority in Texas.
Demographers like Dudley Poston of Texas A&M University figure right about now... or in the next few weeks, the Texas Tide will Turn and the lone star state will become Majority Hispanic.
"It'll happen any day now there'll be more Hispanics than whites in Texas,." explained Poston, in an interview last year.
Daysi says she's been proud to see more and more people like her come to build stronger families and a stronger America.
How did did we get here? Well Dr. Poston realized that in many states, minority children had become the majority,
Charts show most of that growth came in the deep south.
So he looked further, and found groups like pacific islanders, Hispanics and African-Americans had more children than many other groups.
And when you compare the demographics of schoolchildren by age, you can just about see where the change begins.
Now, while all that took place, so-called "non Hispanic whites" actually had fewer children.
Add immigration to the mix, and some say it's a wonder it took this long for Hispanics to rise to the Texas majority.
Don't look now, but it already happened in Los Angeles, where many Mexican families settled... and in Miami, were many Cubans escaped Fidel Castro's communist takeover to settle in Florida.
In fact, they've made TV shows about it. "Que Pasa USA" the very first bilingual sitcom ever produced, tells the story of the Peña family, where grandparents speak no English, the children speak practically no Spanish, and the parents...speak a little of both.
other you really think we are responsible because our children speak more English than Spanish?
Que Pasa, Texas, could this be your future,?
Maybe... the difference here, Hispanics themselves are a little more diverse.
Both political parties have begun courting Hispanic voters, and finding, to their surprise, they don't all think, or vote alike.
Young voter Carlos Espina of College Station put it best.
"The Hispanic community the way both parties app roached them seem to think they only care about one issue with the Democrats is they only care about immigration and the Republicans will go and they only care about abortion but immigrants and Latinos Hispanics like everyone else care about a lot of issues. And I think there really is a lack of understanding and it is a demographic that I personally feel it's up for grabs," he said.
And as Nina Perales of the Mexican-American Legal Defense fund reminds us, this emerging group of latino voters... are still emerging.
."I think there are different approaches to the emerging Latino electorate because it is an emerging electorate. Latinos tend to be young." she said.
Enlightened political leaders like Retired Army Colonel Jon Ker of the Texas Republican Executive committee says, preconcieved notions almost never help.
"So that's that I think the idea of this group is is of that particular persuasion or that groups of that particular persuasion is a bad starting point in today's environment. " said Ker.
He does have one concern though, and that's with the Illegal population. While almost all immigrants seek to become Americans, Ker says Illegals don't.
'What do you get out of you get a united if they come here to not assimilate but rather to keep the little conclave over here? What do you end up with a divided? We don't need any more division." he explained.
So, the big question? are Hispanics ready to lead? Texas already has several familiar Hispanic political leaders... but is Texas ready for maybe a little more diversity in thought and approach? McLennan County Commissioner Patricia Miller says, 'Heck yeah'.
She believes as former minorities gain a voice, we may see a new focus on underserved areas, because in out competitive future, Texas will need all hands on deck to keep us ahead of the pack.
"In Texas we're all in for the challenge. And I think that this is just going to be an opportunity to see how we rise to this. I don't see it being a problem that we're going to have. I do see it as an opportunity to focus on areas that we have not focused on before."
Daysi Barrera says, becoming the Texas majority... will take a litle getting used to. "I thought it was a minority because I'm a Hispanic woman have a business, so I always put myself in the minority. But now I can see now I'm not."
Many say the biggest gift our changing population will bring us lies in its opportunity.
opportunity to grow and expand the Texas brand in new places.
those people believe we Texans will succeed in the Texas way, proving we may not be first, but Texas does it best.