Diversity Rises in Georgia, With Whites Making Up Only Half the State

Census data showed that Georgia has seen a dramatic boom in ethnic and racial diversity in the last decade, a trend that is already having a profound effect on the politics of both the state and the nation.,

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Diversity rises in Georgia, with whites making up only half the state.

A polling location at Hull Middle School in Duluth, Georgia, an increasingly diverse community, north of Atlanta, during the 2018 midterm elections.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Aug. 12, 2021, 6:10 p.m. ET

Census data released on Thursday shows that Georgia, a state where white supremacy was for decades enshrined in law and custom, has seen a dramatic boom in ethnic and racial diversity in the last decade, a trend that is already having a profound effect on the politics of both the state and the nation.

Previous census data suggested that whites were on their way to minority status in Georgia sometime in the next few years. But they are not quite there — yet. The new data shows white people currently make up 51.9 percent of the population, down from 59.7 percent in 2010.

African Americans’ share of the overall population increased from 31.5 percent to 33 percent in the last decades, while Hispanics went from 8.8 percent to 10.5 percent of the population. And the number of Asians in the state jumped by more than 200,000 people, a 54.8 percent increase. Asians now make up 5.8 percent of the state population.

Longtime Georgians have felt the change in the flavors of everyday life for years now, taking for granted the fact that good tlayudas can be had in Jonesboro, and serious bibimbap in Columbus.

But most close watchers of Georgia politics also believe these demographic shifts also help explain the new competitiveness the Democratic Party now exhibits in Georgia, where Joe Biden narrowly defeated former President Donald J. Trump in November, and where two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, scored stunning upset victories over their Republican rivals shortly thereafter.

As Georgia Republicans have sought to rally their base by raising concerns about illegal immigration and noncitizen voting, Democrats have been seeking to build a multicultural coalition that takes advantage of populous and diversifying areas like suburban Gwinnett County, which earlier boomed as whites fled the Atlanta city core.

But the promise of good schools and ample housing stock eventually became a lure to people of all races as overt racial hostility declined in places like Gwinnett. The county, which was more than 90 percent white in 1970, is now 35.5 percent white.

And the county, for decades one of Georgia’s great Republican strongholds, went for Hillary Clinton, in 2016, and Mr. Biden in 2020.

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