Déjà Vu

In January, the California Department of Finance projected in the state budget that by March of this year, California’s Latino population would surpass that of non-Latino whites, making Latinos the state’s largest demographic group. What does a Latino plurality in California represent? It’s a major milestone, to be sure. People of Latino/Hispanic descent have not held this status in California, a former Spanish colony and Mexican outpost, since it became a state in 1850— a demographic shift caused by the California Gold Rush. And while California became known as the land of blondes and Beach Boys, today’s demographic (re)shift is a good reminder that things weren’t alway that way.