State of the Nation Series

State of the Nation Series

 A five-part colloquium series presented by the

Office of Population Research

Princeton University


The COVID-19 pandemic threw the world into paralysis, exposing weaknesses in public health policies, and revealing large inequalities of class, race, and gender.  In the United States the crisis was compounded by nation-wide demonstrations in support of racial justice following the murder of George Floyd. Among those most affected by police violence, Coronavirus infection, and subsequent death are black, brown, and indigenous people who are also overrepresented among the poor and afflicted.  Nearly 50 percent of those who have died as a result of COVID-19 contagion are people of color. 

In light of such momentous developments, Princeton’s Office of Population Research presents a five-part series of conversations and debate focusing on the state of critical national groups: African Americas, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.  The purpose of the series is to illuminate the conditions surrounding vulnerable citizens and residents. 

An introductory session covering top findings about the groups under scrutiny will be followed by sessions more deliberately focusing on four distinct populations.  Each panel will feature three speakers and one respondent. They will deliver short remarks followed by interchange among themselves and dialogue with those attending the event.  The sessions will be recorded and available on this website. 



Part 1 - American Inequality in the Age of the Pandemic

This session lays the ground by engaging participants in reflection over the relationship between the COVID-19 global pandemic and growing inequities in health, employment, housing, political engagement, and social participation.  Focus is on five sectors: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.  How does population level research help us to understand the distinct experiences of those groups?


Part 2 - The State of Black America

African Americans make up 13.4% of the U.S. population but they represent approximately 23 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Black Americans are three times more likely to die from infection than whites. They are also disproportionately represented among those living in poverty; those engaged in “essential” services placing them at higher risk of contagion; and those afflicted by preexisting conditions such as Diabetes and Hypertension.  This panel examines variations of experience among African Americans and interrogates the relationship between racial inequality and public health.


Part 3 - The State of Hispanic America

Hispanics in the United States are a highly heterogeneous population encompassing long established citizens; newly arrived immigrants; and people boasting a multiplicity of national ancestries. As a whole, they comprise 18.5 percent of the U.S. population. Like African Americans, they are overrepresented among those who have died from COVID-19 infections. According to data from the Center for Disease control, 21.3 percent of such deaths are among Hispanics. Of special concern are an estimated ten million unauthorized immigrants, many of whom are employed in essential occupations but lack minimal health protections or means of social incorporation. “The State of Hispanic Americans” gives voice to prominent intellectuals as they assess the challenges facing the largest minority group in the United States.


Part 4 - The State of Asian Americans

Like Hispanics, Asian Americans encompass a multiplicity of national backgrounds and modes of social incorporation in the United States.  They represent 5.6 percent of the American population but they are amply represented among those in the professions and entrepreneurial activities.  Although they are often portrayed as a successful “model minority,” Asian Americans face contradictions and challenges not adequately understood or addressed.  A main purpose of this session is to present a nuanced and precise picture of the group’s experience.


Part 5 - The State of Indigenous Americans

American Indian and Alaska Native persons have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic facing three times the likelihood of infection and death than white counterparts.  Because they represent a small percentage of the national population they face existential threat and remain invisible to the public at large.  This session illuminates the experience of a seminal sector understudied and often abandoned.