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Putting a Face on Census 2000

April 03, 2001

Re "And Then There Were 33.9 Million of Us," Census 2000, March 30: As Peter King pointed out, California is not growing, California's population is. As the nation's leader in total population, population growth and the No. 1 destination for immigrants, nowhere is change as dramatically evident as it is here. "Growth is good" has long been the mantra of both politicians seeking to bolster constituency and employers seeking to reduce labor costs, but it should start to ring hollow with those of us who have to live with it.

High immigration levels over the last two decades have translated into a much poorer quality of life for Californians. Urban sprawl, crowded schools, crowded freeways, astronomical housing prices and the balkanization of Southern California are the legacy of growth. It is time for us to ask ourselves if we are better off today than we were 20 years ago. A recent arrival from a Third World country will surely say yes. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the answer is no.

MATHEW P. MACKENZIE

Arcadia

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Since it is now official--we are all minorities in California--why not leave our obsessions with race and ethnicity in the last century and simply treat each other as human beings, equally deserving of respect and opportunity?

STU O'GUINN

Huntington Beach

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In what way does the March 30 front-page photograph of Lang Ranch Elementary School students "reflect the new California, where no racial or ethnic group composes a majority"? By my tally, 13 of the 18 students pictured are white, while there are one or two Asian students, one black student and apparently no Latino students to speak of. This is a far cry from the racial composition of the state depicted in new census data, which show nearly one in three residents to be Latino and more than half of Californians to be nonwhite.

The incongruity between the photograph and its caption, however, raises another important issue: It's very hard to find a school--or a neighborhood--that reflects the state's racial and ethnic diversity. Although we appear quite integrated at the state level, a closer examination of our living patterns shows the persistence of segregation.

SETH MASKET

Los Angeles

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