Old & White vs. Young & Brown

Photograph from Dmitri Kasterine

Photograph from Dmitri Kasterine

I came across an interesting story on the growing generational/ethnic divide.  In the National Journal, Ronald Brownstein writes:

A contrast in needs, attitudes, and priorities is arising between a heavily (and soon majority) nonwhite population of young people and an overwhelmingly white cohort of older people. Like tectonic plates, these slow-moving but irreversible forces may generate enormous turbulence as they grind against each other in the years ahead….

The twist is that graying white voters who are skeptical of public spending may have more in common with the young minorities clamoring for it than either side now recognizes. Today’s minority students will represent an increasing share of tomorrow’s workforce and thus pay more of the payroll taxes that will be required to fund Social Security and Medicare benefits for the mostly white Baby Boomers. Many analysts warn that if the U.S. doesn’t improve educational performance among African-American and Hispanic children, who now lag badly behind whites in both high school and college graduation rates, the nation will have difficulty producing enough high-paying jobs to generate the tax revenue to maintain a robust retirement safety net.

The future of America is in this question: Will the Baby Boomers recognize that they have a responsibility and a personal stake in ensuring that this next generation of largely Latino and African-American kids are prepared to succeed?‘ contends Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University in Houston, who has studied the economic and political implications of changing demographics. ‘This ethnic transformation could be the greatest asset this county will have, with a young multilingual, well-educated workforce. Or it could tear us apart and become a major liability.'”

To me this article points out a powerful possibility.  What if retiring baby boomers invested in the kids in their area – whether they like their grandkids or not?  I have seen this happen in my own family when my dad began helping teach English as a second language as a volunteer in central Texas.

How can we make sure these two groups help each other and not create even more of a division?

Have you seen other good examples of ways to connect these two groups?

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