Bias Busters: Some surprises about our largest minority group

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Bias Busters
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FROM WAYNE BAKER: This week, we welcome Joe Grimm, editor of the Michigan State University School of Journalism’s series of guides to cultural competence.

You probably already know that Hispanics are America’s largest minority group. They surpassed blacks in 2003.

And Hispanics keep passing milestones. Some recent changes, several of which are covered in 100 Questions and Answers About Hispanic and Latinos:

  • Most American Hispanics and Latinos are not immigrants. They were born here.
  • In 2014, Hispanics and Latinos surpassed whites as the largest ethnic group in California. New Mexico claimed that distinction first, but California is a far larger state.
  • Hispanic children now make up more than one quarter of all pupils in public elementary schools.
  • According to a 2013 report by the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, Hispanic high school graduates are now more likely to attend college than their non-Hispanic white peers.
  • In June, Pew reported that for the first time in nearly 20 years most U.S. Hispanic workers are native-born, not immigrants.

These are important statistical benchmarks, but numbers do not add up to understanding. That requires personal investigation, engagement and conversation with people.

When journalism students at Michigan State University contemplated a Bias Busters guide on Hispanics and Latinos (both terms are used, though neither has a strong preference), this was the first question: If so many Americans are Hispanic, do we even need a guide? Some research into what people are searching for on Google said that we do.

These are some questions for you:

How do you keep up with rapidly changing dynamics?

Do you read, and if so, what? Do you have sources who keep you informed? How do you stay current?

JOE GRIMM is visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and editor of the Bias Busters guides to cultural competence. He spent more than 25 years at the Detroit Free Press, 18 of them as its recruiter. You can read more about the series on its website at: http://news.jrn.msu.edu/culturalcompetence/

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