An article in the Texas Tribune reports that Fort Bend, Texas, the home of disgraced former conservative Congressman Tom Delay, has become famous as the most ethnically diverse county in America. This assertion by a Rice professor is based on his definition of “most diverse” as the county that “comes closer than any other county in the United States to having an equal division among the nation’s four major ethnic communities — Asian, black, Latino and white residents.”
Fort Bend comprises 19% Asians, 24% Hispanics, 21% black, and 36% white, so it is not surprising that no other county is as close to 25% each. But I have rarely seen “most diverse” defined in such a way. Typically diversity is defined as the extent to which the composition of a subgroup reflects the composition of a larger group. San Antonio recently addressed this issue in its SA2020 plan to diversity the composition of government boards. Although the city didn’t initially define the term in the abstract, it was ultimately forced to establish numerical objectives and those objectives were for the composition of the boards to reflect the composition of the city, not to achieve 25%-25%-25%-25% split.
Based on this more practical definition of diversity – i.e., racial/ethnic balancing – Fort Bend is not ethnically diverse. Rather, it is hugely over-represented by minorities, many of whom are new to America, and that goes a long way to explain why an observer in the Tribune article noted that the American melting pot no longer functions in Fort Bend, and it has been replaced by a multicultural community.
Let’s hope that is not the new America.