From [HERE] New Hampshire is the third-whitest state in the country (94 percent) following only its neighbors Vermont and Maine (both 95 percent), according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Demographic trends that changed the face of much of the country over the last century largely passed the region by, and now state officials, business leaders, and community activists see that reality as an existential threat.
With the country projected to become majority minority within the next 30 to 40 years, they fear New Hampshire could be left behind both economically and culturally.
"In New Hampshire, and actually all of northern New England, the number of whites in the state is only growing through migration" because the white residents are dying and leaving the state at a faster rate than they're giving birth, said Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH. "In the long term, it will be an issue especially in these very white states. If the white population isn't producing enough children to offset the deaths, then the only way to grow is through minority populations."
On Thursday, representatives from dozens of organizations -- ranging from large employers and state agencies to nonprofits and the NAACP -- will convene at Eversource Energy's Manchester office to jumpstart what some participants believe will be the first large-scale effort to consciously diversify a state in New England, and perhaps the country.
"Prior to now, there has not been any specific driving force for people of color, doesn't matter which color, to move to New Hampshire. There has not been a reason to do so," said Rogers Johnson, a former state representative and the president of the Seacoast NAACP. "The reasons (for migration) in the past have been economic development, centered on large cities ... nobody of color thinks of Manchester, Burlington and Portland as a large city. There's not a social infrastructure in any of those states."
Many of the details have yet to be sorted out -- the group has not even chosen a name yet -- but some of the early organizers like Parnagian and Will Arvelo, director of the state's Division of Economic Development, envision a nonprofit with diverse funding sources that will organize both on-the-ground recruitment drives in other states and coordinate programs in New Hampshire to help minorities settle and feel welcome.
While the effort will likely also be geared toward attracting people who have been marginalized based on their gender, sexual orientation, religion, and physical disabilities, the data backing up the racial disparity, and opportunity for growth, in New Hampshire is particularly stark.
Nationwide, 17 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, 14 percent as African-American or black, and 6 percent as Asian. In New Hampshire, 3 percent are Hispanic or Latino, 2 percent are African-American or black, and 3 percent are Asian. Some residents identify with more than one race.
By percentage, Berlin is the blackest city in New Hampshire and the second blackest in northern New England, after Portland, Maine, Since 2009, the African-American population in the Coos County city of roughly 10,000 increased nearly 19-fold (to 541 in 2016). But the vast majority of that growth only came after a federal prison opened there in 2012. The U.S. Census Bureau counts prisoners where they are incarcerated, not where they are from.
The story of race in the Granite State is rife with seeming contradictions. [MORE]