Our Multicultural Future

Let’s get this party started. . . .

I heard a great story on Monday’s “Marketplace” on NPR about a white paper written for Ad Age magazine.  The white paper analyzes the demographic structure of America on the eve of the 2010 Census, and it notes, in the words of its author, Peter Francese, that “The concept of an ‘average American’ is gone, probably forever.”  There is no longer any such thing as a “mass market”; instead, we are increasingly a society of fragmented groups based on ethnicity, race, religion, and age.

Francese noted in the “Marketplace” piece that no racial or ethnic group comprises a majority of the population in any of our three largest states–California, Texas, and Florida–and that by 2010 there will be 70 million grandparents in America–over 20 percent of the population.  And increasingly, these grandparents will be a part of multigenerational households, living with their children and grandchildren.

The purpose of the white paper is to assist marketers in preparing their messages in the post-2010 America by making it clear that broad-based marketing campaigns will be less likely to work. Instead, more targeted, better focused ads will have to be the centerpiece of any advertising program.

But this census preview has broader implications as well. As an educator, I’m particularly interested in how Francese’s findings prove that we have to do a better job of preparing our young people, of all ages, to succeed in a world very different from the ones I and my parents grew up in. “Multiculturalism” has been long the target of snide smears from those who defend “traditional American values,” but this report indicates that it’s much more than just “political correctness.” A deep and sensitive understanding of all cultures and traditions that make up twenty-first-century America is absolutely essential for the survival and prosperity of our country.

You can find a text of the Marketplace interview with Francese by clicking here.

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