The New Majority Opportunity: Creating A Future Where Everyone Matters
Imagine a time in our society in which every one of us will matter. Every member of society, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, age, physical ability, religious affiliation, or citizenship status will see one another as a community asset. To get there we must stay committed to the organizing principles laid forth by our founding fathers, as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness remain the seeds of every American’s dream. Most essentially, we must build and support a cross-communities infrastructure to convene, empower, network and leverage the assets of all members of society to participate in the co-creation of a future in which everyone matters.
The New Majority Opportunity™ (NMO) is our thought leadership and convening platform that helps philanthropic institutions, social impact businesses, corporate and community leaders seize the opportunities generated by the emerging demographic shifts happening in the USA over the next three decades. Our platform helps each stakeholder to collaborate in the creation of “preferred” American futures, futures that each community owns a piece of, futures that we all play a vital role in actualizing.
We think it is fair to suggest that as great a nation the United States is, like most ethnically and racially heterogenous capitalist countries, it has not yet created a society in which citizens of all backgrounds matter equitably. The civil and human rights struggles of the American past, coupled with today’s dismantling of political, economic, cultural, environmental and social safety nets for some, has created a nation of people within America who, regardless of their will and efforts to succeed, are part of a growing and diverse underclass.
The demographic forces shaping our nation today and for the foreseeable future have placed America at a crossroads. Between now and 2043 the US will undergo a changing of the white majority-non-white minorities guard. For the first time in our history, we will become a nation defined by a majority-minority population. Whether white, Asian, Latino, black, Native American, or Pacific Islander, every American will be a member of a minority community. However, the numerical fact of this emerging New Majority demographic is not enough to overcome the dynamics governing our current social conditions.
Consequently we created the New Majority Opportunity™ platform to support the movement beyond the dynamics of a privileged majority – disadvantaged minorities society. Our goal is to stimulate new thinking, to challenge communities, leaders, and citizens to cultivate an “asset-based” identity, and to develop strategies and infrastructures through which every member of a community can create a future of their own design. To get to preferred futures in which everyone matters, we must reconsider the current ways we think about and act upon what it means to be an American and work within and across communities to pursue a path toward a healthy, resilient, equitable and sustainable future for everyone.
In this concept paper summary, we overview a new world, a future state that will become the norm for Millennial and the Always-on generations over the next thirty years. We developed the New Majority Opportunity™ Leadership Platform (NMO) for communities and leaders in the U.S. and throughout the Global South who want to create a “collective preferred future” (a shared future designed and embraced by all community actors). The goal is to move American democracy beyond its current limit of partially (and insufficiently) including minorities in the existent structures of society toward a fully equitable democracy in which everyone matters. The aim of this platform is to provide the thought leadership and leadership development infrastructure to build cross-communities networks, community investment and financial operations systems, tools; and to generate research for philanthropic, social impact investors, corporations and community actors in the U.S. and Global South interested in actualizing the following impacts and outcomes:
- Invite all community actors—Native American, progressive, conservative, black, white, Latina/o, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, Pacific Islander, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, male, female, straight, LGBTQI, documented, undocumented, Gen-x, Boomers, etc.—to “opt-in” for the collective creation of preferred futures.
- Help community actors and leaders to identify, build and leverage their economic, political, environmental, social, and cultural asset portfolios toward the realization of an NMO democracy where everyone matters.
- Create collective preferred futures that empower emerging new majority communities to connect to and protect the planet.
- Create sustainable community wealth and develop business and entrepreneurship opportunities geared to ensure family and community legacies; design and leverage social impact strategies developed out of the unique connections between many emerging New Majority communities and the Global South.
The Emerging New Majority Demographic vs. The New Majority Opportunity™
The 2012 U.S. presidential election, the shifting demographics in the U.S., and the emerging market economies of Global South countries like Brazil, India, Asia and Africa, have generated a lot of buzz about the New Majority. According to the Census Bureau report in May of 2012, the coming existence of the New Majority is based upon the racial and ethnic demographic shifts that are occurring now in the U.S., culminating in the arrival of a majority-minority U.S. demographic around 2043. Presently, white births are no longer a majority in the U.S. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births in the 12 months period that ended in July 2012; minorities-including Hispanics, blacks, Asians, and those of mixed race-constituted 50.4 percent, representing a demographic majority for the first time in U.S. history. The Census Bureau projects by 2043 non-whites will constitute the majority of the U.S. population. This has great implications for the business, healthcare, educational, political, environmental and philanthropic sectors who must figure out how to mobilize, serve, and satisfy the increasingly diverse and dynamic economic, political, environmental, cultural, and social asset bases and needs of these demographic populations and their respective communities.
Current emerging “new majority” strategies and agendas call for the deployment of constituent, consumer and community focused efforts designed to gain the allegiance of distinct demographic groups, which translate into voting blocks, consumer loyalty and audience development. These efforts are supported by civic participation, diversity and inclusion training, coalition building and ethnic and cause-related marketing. However, they fail to appeal to the non-monolithic reality that lives within each demographic community. We created The New Majority Opportunity™ (NMO) Leadership Platform to help forward thinking leaders and other stakeholders develop collective preferred futures defined by community actors within and across distinct communities.
The NMO Leadership Platform acknowledges and embraces the increasingly “diverse and dynamic” character of U.S. and Global South communities as an asset. Accordingly we engage “community” through three interdependent frames and recognize that every citizen (especially the Millennial and Always– on generations) possesses an “intersectional personhood,” one that operates and evolves within and across three distinct types of asset-based communities, and sometimes in unpredictable ways:
- Place/geographic based communities
- Issue based communities
- Identity based communities
The Birth of the “Multi-Culti” Identity as an Asset-Holding Citizen
Younger Americans (Always-On generation 2000-2013+, Millennial generation 1977-1998) increasingly engage and build their personal agency in and across these distinct communities through a more diverse and dynamic frame of “multi-culti” identity rather than subscribing to the traditional “majority/minority” identity against which they must mitigate dimensions of their personhood in order to secure full membership in one community versus another. The following story illustrates what is becoming a more intrinsic stance among younger generations of American society. A colleague of one of the authors recently shared the experience of her elementary school-aged daughter who came home from school one day and announced that she had revealed to her teachers that she was African American and had two mothers. She then declared to her mother that she had decided to wait until later to tell her teachers that she was also Jewish. Like many young members of society today, her daughter’s effort to “operationalize” rather than (assimilation or passing) within her elementary school classroom (place-based community) the multicultural dimensions of her identity (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, family structure, religion) as assets to be valued by community is increasingly becoming the new norm for younger American citizens.
Being “multi-culti” is significantly different from the Boomer generation’s valuing of multiculturalism and diversity, which typically involved mainstream acceptance and celebration of the differences of minority and non-traditional communities. Corporate America, government institutions and most educational institutions have embraced various multiculturalist strategies of valuing social and cultural differences. But these efforts have been, nonetheless, largely situated within the framework of homogenized, normative practices and behaviors predicated on “majority” values and priorities. Advocates of multi-culturalism have sought to invoke higher levels of civic participation, employee, student, and community engagement, as well as marketplace penetration and innovation. But these efforts have proven non-sustainable in the face of pervasive retrenchment back to strategies of engagement based on a “majority rules” value systems. Failing to acknowledge and effectively respond to this important detail will prove costly for leaders, educators, communities, corporations, policy makers, and governments who are trying to mobilize and cater to the needs of their emerging stakeholder base.
The 5 Diamonds of the “Multi-Culti” Community Actor
Diamond #1: The Economic Diamond.
Shifting from a “majority/minority” frame to a New Majority Opportunity™ frame for individuals, leaders and communities will require the embrace of “asset-based thinking.” Asset-based thinking (ABT), developed by Dr. Kathy Cramer, is designed to help leaders and change agents develop a management process that produces more resilient, optimistic, and confident life outcomes. The NMO has referenced this logic frame to build a programmatic infrastructure and resource platform for emerging New Majority leaders and stakeholders. The goal is to assist them in developing the strategies, resources, and cross-communities collaboration necessary to pursue realization of the preferred future of their own making, one in which everyone matters. In applying an ABT frame, we realize that every emerging New Majority actor and community is in possession of a portfolio of “assets” that we refer to as diamonds. Each actor and community has five diamonds:
- The Economic Diamond
- The Political Diamond
- The Environmental Diamond
- The Cultural Diamond
- The Social Diamond
The NMO believes that every person in every community holds multiple assets. When NMO community actors effectively leverage and utilize a “multi-culti” strategy to shape their decisions and drive their outcomes in society and in life, they have best positioned themselves within and across communities to utilize their asset portfolio toward the realization of their preferred future. The 5 Diamonds reference the behavior-based competencies that drive economic, political, environmental, cultural, and social value creation. Each citizen, family or community can employ these competencies to strengthen their asset portfolio. Each diamond contains elements of value, contribution, and worth that a community actor offers in exchange for access to opportunities aligned with their desires and goals, the pursuit of a preferred future. Together the 5 diamonds comprise what we refer to as a community actor’s “personal asset portfolio.” The strength of a community actor’s “multi-culti” operating identity (her effectiveness at acknowledging and leveraging all of her assets and who she knows herself to be in each community she lives) supports her in building strategic relationships within and across communities.
It is nearly impossible for a community actor to build and exercise personal power within a community without first understanding her role and personal objectives as a member of a given community. This is essential for the “multi-culti” actor since aspects of her identity may not always be in alignment with the notions of identity that define her communities. Given the large historically generated wealth gap across communities in the U.S our initial NMO platform focus is to help communities, especially their Millennial and Always-on actors, to realize their individual and collective economic preferred futures—from wealth creation to generating sustainable family and social capital.
How people build and protect personal currency (any asset that is owned and transacted in any relationship, community, or society as a medium of exchange to attain self-interests, desires or goals) has broad implications for the emerging “multi-culti” economic, political, cultural, environmental, and social actor. Every NMO community actor must address her self-interests and build her personal currency within and across distinct and sometimes disparate communities. In the case of the multi-culti Economic Actor,” her daily economic transactions are generated by daily decisions to spend, save, or give. These microtransactions (spend, save, or give decisions) can be challenged by micro-aggressions from others within the community and structural macro-aggressions within the larger ecosystem of society. These micro and macros aggressions are often rooted in implicit bias and structural bias.
The multi-culti economic actor must cultivate success strategies and networks to effectively respond to the macro and micro aggressions she will encounter as she seeks to realize her interests and goals as a member of her communities. Given the increasing diversity within and across communities, helping the multi-culti economic actor to identify and cultivate the right thinking, attitudes, strategies, behaviors, relationships and tools to succeed drives sustainable individual and community economic success. This equation also applies to the political, environmental, cultural, and social diamonds that comprise the personal asset profile of all multi-culti actors. Together they operate at the “nucleus” or “operating identities” level of the NMO Strategic Leadership Model.
The impact of “personal currency” in a community is profound. On the one hand, it drives how a community actor actualizes her economic, political, environmental, cultural and social desires. On the other, the personal currency of a community actor shapes policy, drives reform, ushers in social innovation, and dictates normative values within and across the larger ecosystem supporting communities. Personal Currency becomes even more compelling when used by a fully self-actualized multi-culti actor, one who skillfully and strategically uses her clout to ensure access, engagement, and full acceptance within and across distinct communities. It necessitates a level of self-understanding and transparency which helps her to respond to structural and systemic threats (macro aggressions) or seize opportunities related to the larger ecosystem that supports, respects and values her roles, operating identities, and assets within and across communities.
The NMO platform helps the “multi-culti economic actor” (later we will provide similar support to community members on their political, environmental, cultural, and social diamonds) to think about and cultivate effective and appropriate strategies to build and leverage personal currency toward the realization of her preferred future. While large-scale job creation is a necessity for the nation, we believe the development and encouragement of social entrepreneurship and business ownership is a key transformative pathway toward the development of the sustainable and environmentally responsible economic growth of strong NMO families and communities.
For example, NMO communities should utilize evident social and cultural connections to seize the growing opportunities for small and mid–size business development linked to the increasingly important Global South, especially its evolving creative economies. The NMO places a premium value on entrepreneurship and ownership as a strategy for building economically strong and environmentally responsible communities. Ownership and entrepreneurship instill a quality of dignity, agency, engagement, collaboration, legacy, and a sense of economic safety increasingly difficult for employees to secure in the “at-will” circumstances defining so much of the American corporate workplace today. This is where concerted thinking about the creation of a preferred future comes into play. The development of the NMO must focus specifically on preparing individuals, communities, and organizations to zero in on the goals of meeting the needs of tomorrow and the future, starting today.
Understanding the Preferred Future
Unlike a predicted or probable future, a collective preferred future is one predicated on the co-created desires of individuals, communities or organizations. This distinction is of immense importance for development of the NMO.
Preferred futuring differs from problem-solving or issue-specific strategies of advocacy, activism and movement building. The latter are typically focused on achieving shorter-term results, and “fixing” or reforming already existing systemic, institutional, or structural inequities. We are not suggesting that preferred futuring, as a mode of community or constituency building, is better than the problem or issue specific kind. Rather, we think preferred futuring functions as a north star that guides us beyond the injustices and inequities we faced in the past or present and steadfastly toward the opportunities that community actors are ready to co-create for the future.
Building A Preferred Future: The NMO Strategic Leadership Model
From People To Planet
While the nucleus of the NMO focuses on the work of the community actor (multi-culti operating identity) and her 5 diamonds, we also look at her relationship to community, her ecosystem (including local and national policy), the superordinate impact of her individual and collective actions, and how all of the above aligns with her individual and collective preferred future. And arguably most important, what is her role as a student of nature and steward of the planet? As the model above illustrates, the NMO platform exists to help Multi-Culti Economic Actors over the next 30 years create, embrace, and realize their preferred futures (wealth creation). Doing so means that we will help individuals in the context of their families (Operating Identities), families in the context of their communities (Communities), and communities in the context of local and national policy, values and norms (Ecosystem). Finally, all of the efforts at each level of the NMO platform must align with the articulated collective (Preferred Future) of a community, state or nation.
No preferred future will realize itself without thoughtful intention and shared-accountability for humanity’s connection to nature and our preservation of the planet and the environment. A future without clean air or water in one community limits the possibility of sustainable safety in other communities. Our connection to nature and our shared responsibility to the conservation of the planet is the most essential part of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as our “inescapable mutuality.” Consequently, the outermost membrane of the NMO Strategic Leadership Model is focused on our connection to nature and protection of the planet and environment. This must serve as the strongest delimiter to outside forces that attempt to shape or redefine the preferred future of a community or her leaders because without it we have no possible future.
How Tides Will Lead The Creation Of The New Majority Opportunity™
There are innovators who need infrastructure and support to scale their NMO efforts across communities. Our expertise as a progressive infrastructure innovator is best qualified to provide a platform that will ensure their success. They need technical assistance, leadership development, strong and effective networks, access to capital and a nurturing platform for the exchange of transformative ideas born out of lessons learned. We will do this by building, strengthening and leveraging our core business in concert with new Tides NMO offerings in key U.S. and Global South markets. Our core business, fiscal sponsorship, donor advisory, grants management and administrative support services will be leveraged into the Global South and throughout its diasporas by working with key Global South strategic partners. This will position Tides as the premier provider of philanthropic, social impact investing and community development support services to a growing community of donors, investors and doers in the USA and emerging market countries lacking philanthropic infrastructure. The NMO platform will offer research, products, leadership learning and innovation networks, strategy, consulting, coaching, team building services, and social impact investment instruments. These will be available for philanthropists, non profits/NGO’s, corporations/ multinationals, investors, entrepreneurs, governments, institutions, leaders and communities who care about creating social and business impacts for their stakeholder communities.
Onward To The Future
2043, and the demographic transformation of American society, offers US & Global South communities possible futures they would prefer, rather than one they must simply accept. Articulating these best possible futures must begin now. We realize the next steps toward the future are going to be different for every individual and community. But the future must be one that we all choose, we all can see, and that we can all strive toward. What are the ideas, beliefs, or issues existing within you or your communities that impede your ability to identify, embrace and actualize a collective preferred future? What are you and your communities willing to do to abandon them?
We invite you to begin to think about your communities’ preferred futures and your individual, leadership role in the collective creation of those futures. Rather than produce our own long list of recommendations we invite dialogue with thinkers, leaders, donors and doers from a broad range of emerging new majority communities to share their thoughts about the value of creating a NMO preferred future in their communities. Please join the growing dialogue about America’s preferred future on our Twitter and Facebook pages and sign up for the New Majority Opportunity™ (NMO) Blog at www.newmajorityopportunity.org.