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UNC professor James Johnson to speak on certain uncertainty, disruptive demographics

Throughout its history, the United States has undergone numerous demographic shifts — but James Johnson believes that with attention and care, these shifts can be leveraged in the hyper-competitive global economy.

Johnson

Johnson will present “Leading and Managing in an Era and Disruptive Demographics and Certain-Uncertainty” at 3:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 26, on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform, as part of the African American Heritage House lecture series. In this presentation, Johnson will map six major demographic shifts occurring in the United States. 

One demographic shift that Johnson will address is the rising population of immigrants and people of color, with a special look at Hispanic communities. 

“We have had below-replacement-level fertility among whites for two decades, and deaths exceed births among non-Hispanic whites. The growth is coming from people of color, but we’ve shut down immigration,” Johnson said. “The median age of a non-Hispanic white female is 45 years old; completed fertility occurs between the ages of 40 and 44. The median age of a Hispanic female is 29 years old. There’s a 10- to 20-year gap between the median age of non-Hispanic white females and women of color — that’s your fertility gap.”

At the end of the day, we cannot thrive and prosper as a hyper-competitive global economy if our population is in disarray and is declining,” Johnson said. “If we don’t reframe disruptive demographics as a competitiveness issue, we’re going to be in deep yogurt.”

In recent years, the Trump administration has mandated restrictive immigration policies and deportation of undocumented immigrants. If immigration is shut down and immigrants are removed from the country, Johnson said there will be a void left in the economy. 

“People don’t understand that whenever you have a new immigrant group enter your community, they are actually responsible for the creation of additional jobs — usually upper-class jobs. Why? Because you need a professional class of people to serve them. Why would you need an interpreter if you didn’t have people who didn’t speak English? Why would you need an immigration attorney if you didn’t have immigrants?” Johnson said. “So (if immigrants are taken out of the economy), what’s the translator going to do? What’s the immigration attorney going to do? What are the people who used to wash their car going to do? … It’s an integrated economy and people typically don’t understand how those things work.”

Aside from immigration, Johnson said that people of color face another major issue — education. 

“Public schools are increasingly — due to concentrated poverty, hyper-segregation and the like — occupied by people of color who are not being educated in a way that ensures that they have access to college education, and kinds of skills and training that we need to remain competitive,” he said.

Earlier this season, former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen discussed how the public education system exacerbates racism and classism, noting that after a long history of redlining, American cities tend to not invest in communities of color. Cities will give tax breaks to development projects, and take from the school system — this leaves children of color living in food deserts and attending under-funded schools.

“What (the kids) experience is a reinforced message that you will not be invested in, that we do not care if you get food or health care,” Carstarphen said ahead of her lecture. 

Along the way, these factors among others will keep people of color from pursuing education.

“We have numerous data points at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where we have a total of 550 Black males in the university. I assure you, there are more than 550 Black males who are college-eligible, but we lose them in elementary and middle school,” Johnson said. “Three million kids (are) expelled from school annually, and a quarter of a million have been referred to police for misdemeanor charges as early as the first grade. Once that happens to you, it’s a hard road to get to any college. We have massive education disenfranchisement going on.”

Johnson said that if public institutions do not change to adapt to new demographics, the country will be left without a global strategy.

“At the end of the day, we cannot thrive and prosper as a hyper-competitive global economy if our population is in disarray and is declining,” Johnson said. “If we don’t reframe disruptive demographics as a competitiveness issue, we’re going to be in deep yogurt.”

Tags : African American Heritage HouseJames JohnsonLeading and Managing in an Era and Disruptive Demographics and Certain-UncertaintyMeria Carstarphen
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The author Jamie Clarkson

Jamie Clarkson is a first-year reporter at The Chautauquan Daily, covering everything from the environment to the African American Heritage House and Heritage Lecture Series. In May 2020, Jamie graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Journalism with specializations in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and music from the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She will return to Scripps in the fall to pursue her master’s degree. This summer she will be quarantine-reporting from her home in Bremen, Ohio.

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