Re: On The Diversity Of Diversity

1

If you want to buy horses for the kids, just go buy some horses and leave diversity out of it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 7:40 AM
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"The Senor will forgive me," said the President. "May I ask the Senor how, under ordinary circumstances, he catches a wild horse?"

"I never catch a wild horse," replied Barker, with dignity.

"Precisely," said the other; "and there ends your absorption of the talents. That is what I complain of your cosmopolitanism. When you say you want all peoples to unite, you really mean that you want all peoples to unite to learn the tricks of your people. If the Bedouin Arab does not know how to read, some English missionary or schoolmaster must be sent to teach him to read, but no one ever says, 'This schoolmaster does not know how to ride on a camel; let us pay a Bedouin to teach him.' You say your civilization will include all talents. Will it? Do you really mean to say that at the moment when the Esquimaux has learnt to vote for a County Council, you will have learnt to spear a walrus? I recur to the example I gave. In Nicaragua we had a way of catching wild horses...by lassoing the fore-feet-which was supposed to be the best in South America. If you are going to include all the talents, go and do it. If not, permit me to say, what I have always said, that something went from the world when Nicaragua was civilized."


Posted by: G. K. Chesterton | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 7:42 AM
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There's a logical sort of problem with wanting to seek out this kind of diversity for your kids: that it's really not accessible from a position of tourism. You can watch an exhibition, like you did, and ignorantly admire people with very different lives than yours without knowing much about them. You can interact with people in a 'diverse' environment, which you're right, advantages mainstream UMC American mores, so while you end up learning something about other ways of life, you don't learn much. But to actually have any sense at all of what another way of life is really like, you need to invest years to even have a meaningful outsider's sense of it -- you can do that once or twice in a lifetime, but probably not more than that.

I used to know something, not a whole lot, but something, about what it was like to live in rural Samoa. But I'll probably never even have that level of knowledge about any other culture other than my own -- there's just not time and energy in a life for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 7:50 AM
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We're not tourists!


Posted by: Hubert | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:06 AM
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UMC?

United Methodist Church?
Unification Megachurch for Christ?
Ubermensch Mainstream Culture?


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:07 AM
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"Upper middle class". What British people call "middle class". Or "bourgeois".


Posted by: cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:09 AM
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Upper Middle Class.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:09 AM
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Putting my nephew in track moved us (my sister much more, I am a tourist, but she has reason to be there) into a group of people we wouldn't have otherwise spent time with.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:13 AM
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Putting my son in soccer camp has brought me into fleeting contact with parents from the really whitebread suburbs. They seem nice enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:16 AM
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Personally, I've long felt that "diversity" is made-up condescending bullshit designed to appeal to Lewis Powell and perpetuated by squishy twits like university administrators. I strongly support "affirmative action," but only on its original rationale of providing redress for/power to historically or currently oppressed groups. One of the problems with "diversity" is precisely that identified in the OP, its intense condescension -- in some ways, nothing is more reassuring for your own "privilege" than being constantly told you are "privileged" and given access to just enough of the supposedly non-privileged to persuade you of the inherent superiority of your own background.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:18 AM
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9: They seem nice enough.

As long as you don't in any way suggest that they are free-riding on the impoverished government of the urban hub. Then they'll turn on you like wild beasts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:21 AM
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Wild beasts in spotless athletic clothing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:25 AM
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10: +1


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:26 AM
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I feel like I should know what to say to this, but I don't.

Okay, one thing. I had to take Selah back to the ER on Sunday because she pulled her splint of and they said not to try to readjust it ourselves, which meant I didn't finish twisting Nia's hair. Normally I wouldn't let her go out with a half-finished style, but Lee had promised them brunch. So we went to a place in the gentrified urban core, knowing that we were pretty much guaranteed not to see any black people even though this is the neighborhood where Nia's grandma and most of that side of her family live an have lived for years. Sure enough, there was one little black boy with white parents and one woman walking through an alley who nodded to us as we were getting back into the car and absolutely no one who seemed to notice or care that her hair was not right. As much as the people in the neighborhood make a big deal about being in a diverse urban environment, it was striking how much things have changed so quickly there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 8:36 AM
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I sometimes wonder what "Multiculturalism" might have developed into if it hadn't been captured by university administrators and suchlike.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 9:00 AM
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Heebie U is super big into service learning, and the director of it is a truly fantastic ideal Christian type. One of the big things that he's constantly training the faculty on is the difference between volunteerism and service learning. Volunteerism being basically "look, we spent and afternoon and fixed the brown people's problems and now we feel soooooooo good about ourselves."

Service learning is supposed to be "form relationships with the other community, they should be doing the leading, you should be finding out from the community leaders what they want you to do, it should be a two-way street where they also help you, and at the end you should spend time reflecting on how you grew and how this benefitted you."

Needless to say I am way too lazy to incorporate service learning into my classroom but I appreciate that it's worth not just doing volunteerism with your students.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 9:37 AM
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Service learning does sound like a great deal of work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 9:53 AM
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So now if I finally get my act together and start volunteering I'll be doing it wrong?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 9:55 AM
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You're supposed to be forming relationships. Speaking of, did you finish your personal ad?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 9:57 AM
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The trouble with 10 is that all sorts of research shows that "diversity" is, in fact, valuable in and of itself - that a diverse org will outperform a comparable, but less diverse org, that all group members tend to benefit from diverse groups, etc.

That is, your position would be laudable if "diversity" just meant inserting some token minorities (and women) into preƫxisting organizations and proceeding unchanged (but smugger), but it turns out that opening the doors of organizations changes them more or less unavoidably, and for the better.

It's almost certainly true that direct redress is sufficient reason to support affirmative action, but there's sort of a grim, eat-your-vegetables tone to the idea that we should only like a broadly beneficial thing for one reason, lest somebody make a delicious vegetable dish appreciate an array of benefits.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:24 AM
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And I realize that 20 might seem like some sort of corporate speak, where what really matters isn't justice, but the bottom line, except that my point is that this applies to all organizations/social groups, from social clubs to the Fed. It's a better way to organize society. There may be some other, even better, way to organize society that doesn't make UMC people feel good about themselves, but until then, diversity helps everybody.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:28 AM
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So basically service learning is just a liberal cooptation of pedagogy of the oppressed? I thought it was a fancy name for internships.

In any case, yeah. I got ANOTHER complement on my glasses yesterday from an African-American stranger. I dunno what it is about these frames, but Black people sure seem to think they flatter me. Diversify that!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:30 AM
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Skimming 22.2, I thought another A-A stranger complained about your glasses, and I was trying to imagine what could possibly be so problematic with them.

I have a straw hat that I don't actually like all that much - it's OK, but it's basically a golf hat, which I wear to protect my pate and because it's breezy - but I probably get a compliment every other week or so on it, almost always from African-Americans.

I think the first time I was ever complimented on an item of clothing by a (random) African-American, I was entirely uncertain whether or not it was a put-on. That was half racial discomfort and half growing up among white people who would almost never compliment a stranger*. Now I think it's so great that I try to compliment people when I see the opportunity.

*with a soupƧon of general insecurity; in HS, I was probably more likely to get a sarcastic compliment than a sincere one


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:52 AM
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24

I'm getting new glasses tomorrow. Anything tips?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:53 AM
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18: I bet you really regret asking for advice now, huh?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 10:55 AM
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glasses


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:12 AM
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24: They're this model, but in a fancier colorway:
http://www.globaleyewear.ca/default1.asp?PageMode=itemdetails&qgid=1&qmid=8&qiid=343


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:32 AM
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Those don't look bad. 26 looks a bit much for my face.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:35 AM
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18: There's still a need for volunteers, just not the kind who swoop in and build a house and leave. If you're building a relationship, explicitly teaching code-switching and acknowledging racism and classism, being willing to do what's needed, you'll be fine. That's no help with your personal ad, though.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:50 AM
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28: do you need both eyes?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:52 AM
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31

Too much Lord Peter for me to pull off.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:57 AM
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32

20 gets it exactly right. (Read this for a perfect example of how diversity could have helped an organization not fuck up spectacularly and tragically.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:01 PM
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To 10 (and largely pwned by 20, I see on preview): The language of diversity doesn't deal with the universal concern: "Why is this the right thing to do?" But it does answer the question: "What's in it for me?"

Diversity benefits the privileged, and that's one perfectly good reason for the privileged to sign on for it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:06 PM
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34

"Service learning" sounds oppressively close to the right-thinking hippie's version of "team-building," with attendant exercises, passive aggression, encouragement to Maoist self-criticism, "talk circles," etc., et '70s/New Games Movement cetera.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:11 PM
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Following on 29 and in response to the OP and 3, if your volunteerism really does lead to forming relationships with people in your own community then it is completely doable and will result in your kids becoming aware and appreciative of whole swathes of their community they wouldn't otherwise know anything much about. May not all be as picturesque as the example in the OP, but still.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:17 PM
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36

Speaking of, did you finish your personal ad?
You can't rush perfection, Moby.
If you're building a relationship, explicitly teaching code-switching and acknowledging racism and classism, being willing to do what's needed, you'll be fine.
That's a big, compound if.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:26 PM
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37

Find a group you're comfortable is handling this decently and actually it can be pretty straightforward to do all of that. The voluntees, so to speak, are also people with opinions, perceptions and viewpoints, after all. They won't hesitate to speak up, in my experience working closely with high school students.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:49 PM
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I don't really disagree with 33, and agree that "diversity" can benefit elite organizations. But let's be clear-eyed about what's going on --I agree that there's substantial value to elites and their organizations that come with providing a veneer of multiculturalism, which in turn provides plausible deniability for elite perpetuation, at the expense of condescension. It's absolutely right that this benefits the elites -- and also of course much preferable for everyone (including non-elites) than old-school total racial or economic exclusion. But it's as much a means of perpetuating and reinforcing existing advantages as it is of overcoming them, and it's important not to be taken in by elite rhetoric on this point.

In many US places, certainly the most urban places, the population is already plenty "diverse," meaning that "diversity" rhetoric (that is, claiming "diversity" as an independent value and the main reason for attention to the less privileged) is almost always coming from an institution that wants to segregate its members and perpetuate ethnic and class privilege without letting on that it's doing so. If eg Harvard wanted to be truly "diverse" it could have a student population that reflected the city of Boston, or if it wanted to be purely meritocratic it could admit about 50% more Asian Americans than it does now. Or, take private elementary schools in LA, each of which will trumpet its "diversity" but each of which are basically oases for white privilege in an environment where something like 80% of the school age population is Latino. Or law firms hiring from majority female law school classes. Etc etc. In all these cases the diversity rhetoric is as much about ensuring that the existing order doesn't actually reflect the underlying population as it is about challenging the existing order.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 12:55 PM
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39

There's also the fake-diversity of, frex, Macalester College or American University, where many of the students of color are from the international elites.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:09 PM
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38 and 39 make excellent points, but I still urge people to seize opportunities to act concretely in their own lives. And while you are at it propagate these notions amongst the smart but underprivileged youth of your community!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:20 PM
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||

2nd nosebleed in 2 days. In a better ED this time.

Still sucks.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:22 PM
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In a better ED this time.

Does that mean they gave you cocaine?

Either way, hope you feel better and heal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:25 PM
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My child has had horrific nosebleeds, they are scary and serious no fun, hope this ends for you, bostonienne.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:29 PM
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44

My child used to cause my nose to bleed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:31 PM
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Sally had chronic nosebleeds (never requiring an ER trip, but they happened a lot) for long enough to shake us out of our customary neglect and get her some medical care. The doctor cauterized something (well, a blood vessel, presumably) and everything was solved.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:34 PM
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45: Yeah, I went through the same thing when I was in middle school. The cauterization wasn't fun (and Jesus was the smell atrocious), but at least it did the trick.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:36 PM
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Nose cauterization sounds very risky. I suppose they use only the finest fireplace poker, but still.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:38 PM
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Cigarette lighter. "When I flick it, sniff really, really hard..."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:44 PM
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In Lawrence yesterday, I asked for some acetaminophen. The NP said that I was the only person who asked for something as basic as Tylenol. I asked what most people wanted, thinking maybe Vicodin. The answer: morphine.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:49 PM
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36.2: At least I didn't assume you have kids, though! (And really those things aren't mandatory, but they're guidelines I try to aim for if I'm doing one-on-one tutoring/mentoring-type stuff. Different jobs have different goals.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 1:49 PM
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re: 15

I'd guess the actual reality of it is lived in cities and towns all over the place. I live in London. It's rare to see a group of kids, say, where they are all from one racial background. Half the couples you meet are from mixed racial or cultural backgrounds. I don't think most of those people even think about 'multiculturalism' as a thing or give it a moment's thought.

_I_ notice it, because I grew up somewhere pretty homogeneously white, and mono-cultural [although more blurred along class lines than some places]. But I'd bet that someone who grew up here, especially in working class or lower middle class areas, barely notices it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM, and f | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 2:45 PM
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frex, Macalester College

Easy there, hoss.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 2:47 PM
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The big gaggle of Somali kids that live in the houses on my street, one one level, they are kind of annoying, because they are crazy loud. On the other side, it's cool to see wee girls in head-scarves skateboarding down the street.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 2:49 PM
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wee girls in head-scarves

Sally's school doesn't have a lot of observant Muslims, but there's this one older girl I see at school events who's rocking a workboots/baggy jeans/hijab look that I find immensely appealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 2:53 PM
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Here, as I've mentioned before, you sometimes see girls in very un-modest clothes, with head scarves. 'Booty shorts' and cropped tops, with a cowl.

I've also mentioned, where I used to catch a bus to the station, I used to see a Muslim girl most mornings who'd ride past on a Vespa. What was cool was that she was dressed in a head-scarf, and shalwar-kameez type get-up, but her scooter was a proper 60s model, and she was also wearing a classic fishtail mod parka, and all the accessories. It was the attention to detail. Total 60s mod, except with the head scarf.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 3:02 PM
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This is a huge difference between veiling in the UK vs in France. So much variety and fashion sense on display in the UK. In France it's more uniformly dreary with a distinct sense of embattlement.

Do love the wildly inappropriate teenager too tight too revealing get ups with the cowl, hormones will out!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 3:08 PM
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52: Well, I'm sure Grinnell or Hampshire or Reed are just as bad.

53: The little-girl model scarves that are basically just a plain tube with some elastic around the face are extremely cute. It's interesting to see the variation between families -- I've seen 2 year olds wearing a scarf, and 7 year olds who don't. Somali-Minnesotan culture is going to look so different 10, 20, 40 years from now.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 3:53 PM
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The whole "Muslim girls/women are soooo oppressed" thing is just ridiculous if you are actually around a big Muslim community. If anything, it's the young men who are getting more of a raw deal, being interpellated as criminal Black men, while not being welcome in traditional African-American circles.

A friend posted a photo recently of a young Somali woman (jr. high age, probably) wearing a traditional outfit, but with a black hoodie over it that said something like "Shut up, you're haram!" Brilliant.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 3:58 PM
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The school where I teach has kids at widely different socio-economic and parental education levels. Undocumented landscaper dads, math professor moms, etc. The kids all hang together at school, which has some value, but I don't think the play-dates and birthday parties and sleep-overs cross social boundaries. That's where some real learning could occur.


Posted by: Calypso | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 6:46 PM
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59 is our elementary school, exactly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 7:12 PM
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58: I know!! I'm all like, shut up about your stupid girls' school getting bombed and where's your chaperone!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 7:14 PM
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60: Wait and see. You get to choose who you invite to your kids' parties. Mara's this year featured three of her moms plus her dad and his girlfriend and no one blinked, except that her mom and dad won't be in the same place at the same time and so one came late and the other left early. None of her middle-class classmates showed up.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 7:59 PM
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The OP is great. As much as I give ogged shit about his claims to rural cred, I'm actually fascinated by his stories about NM because they offer glimpses of a world I'm very familiar with but viewed from a very different perspective.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-10-14 11:31 PM
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61: thank you, heebie.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 7:33 AM
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Diversity has downsides:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/04/the_downside_of_diversity/?page=full

But even after statistically taking them all into account, the connection remained strong: Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:18 AM
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I just put this in the other place, but here's a great article on how to talk to your white kids about race and how their schools should be doing the same. I'll keep my eyes open for the author's upcoming book on the same topic.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:31 AM
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65: so basically we should live in monoracial ghettos but work in rainbow companies.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:40 AM
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And, if I recall his oeuvre, go bowling more often.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:41 AM
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I wonder if he corrected for stable versus unstable diversity. All those effects sound very plausibly like how people would react to a neighborhood where the ethnic/racial mix is changing noticeably, but less like a neighborhood that has been stably integrated for a period of time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 9:44 AM
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But even after statistically taking them all into account

Putnam is a great and powerful wizard, evidently.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-11-14 1:30 PM
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