Assimilation, 21st Century Style

While the number of births to African-American and white teenagers fell in Illinois from 1997 to 1999, the number of births to Hispanic teens increased. In fact, Hispanic girls lead the nation in the teen birthrate, with about 93 births per 1,000 Hispanic teens per year compared to the overall national teen birthrate of about 50 births per 1, 000    Newer immigrants are more likely to avoid pregnancy than second- or third- generation Hispanics. … "For certain what we know is that [unmarried teenage Hispanic] girls born in the U.S. and raised in the U.S. are more likely to get pregnant than girls who are foreign-born and then raised in the U.S.," said Jane Delgado of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. "As we look at what messages a culture communicates to young girls, it's mixed. One is about sexuality and the other is about moving away from faith and family as core parts of a young girl's being."

"Hispanic teen births up, defying U.S. trend"
By Sue Ellen Christian and Teresa Puente
Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2001

The very bad news above directly contradicts the conservative Establishment's conventional wisdom. ConEstablishment types assume that "assimilation" works automatically, sort of like "osmosis," to solve any minor cultural problems created by heavy immigration. They tend to have this 19th Century picture of assimilation in action: The huddled masses stumble off the docks in Boston, only to notice the Cabots and Lodges glowering at them for their uncouth behavior. Chastened, the newcomers resolve to begin the long struggle to become good Americans just like those august families.

Of course, these days, the descendants of those Puritans are working as program officers for foundations telling the newly-arrived immigrant how much better the culture back home in, say, Guatemala was than the culture created by their Boston Brahmin ancestors - who, as you will recall, were so criminally insensitive as to glower.

There is, however, one vibrant, self-confident culture in modern America: hip-hop. (See Charles Murray's eloquent Wall Street Journal essay "Prole Models.")  Hip-hop is doing what whites no longer have the will or means to do: assimilate the children of Hispanic immigrants.

Of course, Dr. Dre, Puff Daddy, and the rest are leading Latino-Americans toward the African-American model. As I wrote last year, "Currently, 22% of white births are illegitimate compared to 69% of black births. Among immigrant Latino mothers, 37% of their new babies were illegitimate. But among American-born Latino mothers, the illegitimacy rate rises to 48%."  

This is a major problem. The bad news is that nobody has any plausible idea how to reverse this process. For all Charles Murray's virtues (and is there any intellectual in America who combines honesty, humility, kindness, and judiciousness in a nobler package than Murray?), he is a lot less funky of a role model than Ol' Dirty Bastard.

The good news: that there is a relatively easy way at least to limit the extent of this problem in the future. But that means we have to act soon to change the laws - and bring in fewer but better immigrants.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

February 11, 2001