Institutuins Must Be Responsive to Changeing Ethnic Demographics

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 28, 1999 | Go to article overview

Institutuins Must Be Responsive to Changeing Ethnic Demographics


Byline: Jeryl Levin

Between 1990-1995, more than 180,000 immigrants settled in Chicago and its outlying suburbs, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Outside the city, the greatest influx of immigrants took place in northwest Cook, north Cook and DuPage counties, with west and southwest Cook trailing fourth and fifth.

Poland, Mexico, India, the Philippines, the former Soviet Union, China, Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan and Ireland rank among the top 10 of the top 50 sending countries to our region.

As a whole, the immigrant and minority population is younger than the native born and there are more children per family. As a result, in the next 20 years our region will diversify even more, as Latino, black and Asian populations rise and white numbers decrease. On the surface, it may seem that we champion and embrace this diversity as we pay homage to it with platitudes, but statistics tell a different story.

Cultural diversity has already posed a challenge for people uncomfortable living together. By 2002 nearly 140,000 whites will have left suburban Cook County since the 1990 census, according to the Chicago Reporter.

A racially, ethnically and culturally diverse population has complex needs that impact regional planning and public policy. Municipalities will be hard-pressed not to work collaboratively and proactively, so that people are connected to jobs, housing and transportation and, ultimately, to each other if the great American experiment of diversity is to succeed.

If we don't have adequate housing, good schools, and other resources, embracing diversity will be an empty phrase. We will have no choice but to learn how to manage differences and live together across racial, cultural and ethnic lines. …

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