Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Living In One of the Whitest Cities in the US

THIS article in the Seattle Times about the recent 2010 census revealed how "white" Seattle and Portland are. While Seattle is the 5th most white large city in America with 66% of its residents saying they are non-hispanic/white, Portland is the most white large city in America with 72% saying that.  It's kicked off several discussions about race, racism and it's affects on our area.

KUOW's Conversation Show on 4/25 covered this and discussed some interesting stories callers had/have while living and working in the Seattle area.  Based on that pool of experiences, it's a toss-up as to whether it's better or worse here than other big cities with more color mix.  I also called in at the end to make some comments regarding being mixed race.  That's a whole other topic of conversation but as more and more people are multi-ethnic, how do you count "whiteness"?  Is it only if you are 100% or can you combine two hapas to get one white person?  That's a little glib maybe, but something I'm still curious about.
Audio: Part 1 LINK & Part 2 LINK
(On Part 2 @15:22 is where my comment starts)

Bruno and the Professor, one of my favorite news/views podcasts about American and international politics, culture & ideas discussed this article too.  They brought up an interesting concept called "consensus-based culture" which is that Seattle is so full of domestic and international immigrants (~66%) that the cultural mores are inevitably "explained" to everyone coming in and basically an understanding occurs such that "you can be of any religion or culture you want as long as you assimilate into this society."  I found that fascinating because while I am not Seattle-born, I am still a western Washington State native so the "rules" aren't very different than what I grew up with so I don't really notice it.  (Except for the "Seattle Freeze" phenomenon which is specific to this city and why Seattle folks are so aloof--but I digress.)  I'm sure Seattle's culture is a starker contrast for Ken who grew up in Maryland--a place where race is much more top of mind because you can see diversity everywhere you go.  Also interesting comments from the guys about voter districting as it pertains to race and the history of it.  Click this LINK to listen.   (Race discussion starts at 20:00)

And after putting this article out on Facebook today, many friends who have lived in different parts of the country indicated that more diversity in population is not necessarily correlated to less racism.  But I think that's a common assumption--the more exposure you have to something, the more you understand and integrate with it.   So to explain what friends are seeing maybe it could be if you don't get any distance or perspective on a cultural/racial basis perhaps you keep fomenting the deep-seeded prejudices and create your own tight-knit group within that society so that you never fully integrate.  Or in defense of those who think Seattle is color-blind maybe if you have less occasions to test your racism you are by proxy "less racist"?  
I don't know, that last one is a stretch.

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