Given known birth rates for all groups, by July 4, 2013, Hispanics will be the Majority in California. New Mexico was the first state to earn this distinction, with Texas likely to be the third. (Speaking of third, here in San Jose, one third of this city and county is Asian. But the odd Vietnamese-American experience is a future post for more political incorrectness... )
As a native Californian born in LA and living soon thereafter all over Central California for decades, I grew up with roadside orchards and Cesar Chavez and the UFW marches and hearing Spanish frequently. My family had Taco Night every Saturday and we all helped make the many bowls of shredded lettuce, cooked meat, diced tomatoes and grated cheese to pile onto the fresh tortillas we bought in bulk from a local Mexican restaurant. We drove into Mexico for family vacations in a pre-Cartel era and my brother and I smuggled cherry bombs across the porous border in our baby blue Thunderbird or the old Rambler wagon.
While I believe all Americans MUST learn English, here in California it is just plain practical to know Spanish as well. For as long as Mexico has existed, Norte California has been influenced by and interwoven with Mexican culture. Before that, we had the real Natives, such as the Aztecs and Apaches. So what has really changed? Tacos and tamales are still on every corner in California, but the ethnic demographics are shifting like the San Andreas Fault in 1906.
Current native Californians can thank Captain John Fremont for the liberation of California from Mexico. Some would say stolen by force, others say given by treaty, others would call it manifest destiny (a justification for genocide), others would simply blame God. Choose your personal version of history, then add a twist of avocado and lime. History says Capt Fremont led a contingent of US Army Calvary into the northernmost province of Mexico to map and explore, and soon they were challenged by the rag-tag Mexican Army. A quick few minor skirmishes later and Mexican General Vallejo surrendered the California territory to Fremont in Sonoma, thus setting up a new, western Pacific, independent Bear Republic, using the existing trail of Catholic Missions and early American settlements and ranches as the government base and physical infrastructure for the new Republic. Once gold was discovered just a short two years later at Sutter's Mill, all migration broke loose, and in 1849 the Republic of California became an overnight Melting Pot of strong, risk-taking adventurers, unlike the right-wing religious fanatics that settled the east coast of America. The USA was soon begging the Republic of California to join its Union and bring its many and diverse riches into a more conservative and very distant Union (beyond the formidable Sierras and Rockies), itself teetering on the brink of all-out Civil War over the right--or lack thereof--to embrace slavery and succession. (Currently, the California state economy ranks seventh among all nations of the world!)