April 16, 2011 | Tennessean | Original Article

Tennessee Hispanics look to future

It was just a news brief, but that 51-word paragraph in Friday’s newspaper sure caught my attention.

Hispanics now outnumber African-Americans for the first time in most U.S. metropolitan areas, shifting the political and racial dynamics in cities once dominated by whites and blacks, the Associated Press brief said.

Census figures released Thursday highlight the growing diversity of the nation’s 366 metro areas, which were home to a record 83.7 percent share of the U.S. population.

Here in Nashville, African-Americans still outnumber Hispanics, but you might recall a story The Tennessean ran the middle of last month saying that Davidson County would have lost population over the past 10 years if not for substantial increases in Hispanic and other minority residents, according to a population count released by the U.S. Census.

The story added that almost one in 10 Davidson County residents is Hispanic, up from less than one in 20 a decade ago. Davidson gained more Hispanic residents than any other county in the state, accounting for almost two-thirds of its overall population growth.

“One of the trends we have seen in the last 20 years is a growth in Hispanic population nationwide,’’ Mark Lopez, Ph.D., an associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, said Thursday. “Now, Latinos are the nation’s largest minority group.

“One characteristic of this growth is it’s not just been in California and Texas but dispersed around the country. As an example, even though Hispanics represent less than 5 percent of Tennessee’s population, the growth in Tennessee’s Hispanic population between 2000 and 2010 was the third-fastest in the country.’’

Lopez, who will be the keynote speaker in Nashville on Thursday for a statewide Tennessee Hispanic Summit, added that the Hispanic population grew by 134 percent during that time period.

When we talk about the Hispanic population, Lopez said people should understand, too, that we’re talking about a younger population. That means, he said, that in a place like Tennessee, for example, young Hispanics under 18 represent 7.2 percent of Tennessee’s youth population.