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THE FACTS: Illinois’s Diverse Population
Racial and ethnic demographics continue to evolve across Illinois. In 1980, 78% of Illinois’ population was White, while 15% were Black and around 6% were Latino, with the other races making up less than 1% each. As of 2020, 60% of the state is White, 14% are Black, 18% are Latino, 5% are Asian or Pacific Islander, and 2% are of mixed or another race. While racial demographics fluctuate county by county across the state, there is diversity within and among counties across the state, with Black and Brown communities making up more than 25% of many counties.
Diversity is not only found through race and ethnicity, but also through the many identities that can make up one person. While some of these parts of identity have been outwardly presented and generally accepted, like being a sports fan or music preference—many, including older persons, have experienced being othered or being unwelcomed because of parts of their identity over their lifetime.
It wasn’t until 2015 that lesbian and gay marriage become legal across the entire United States, meaning that some of the oldest baby boomers were not able to acknowledge their shared love through marriage until they were almost 70 years old. Further complicating the lives of people who are LGBTQ+ is current discrimination in healthcare and housing that causes many to have to hide this part of their identity.
Faith and spirituality practice and involvement has changed over the course of the last 75 years, with growing awareness of types of religion, along with progressive and conservative interpretations. However, people of many religious faiths face harassment, discrimination, violence, and harm here in the United States.
For many, how we find purpose makes up part of our identity, often for Americans it means our work or occupations, but hobbies and interests are also part of who we are and what we enjoy throughout our lifetime. And of course, there are many more layers to our identity, including disability and changes in ability; family of origin, blended families, and family of choice; where we are from and where we live; and so many more. And as we age, some of our identities change and evolve.