Food for thought on a Monday morning:
AMERICAN SUBURBIA FREAKS ME THE F*** OUT. nothing is more dystopically homogeneous & willfully desolate than an American suburb. NOTHING!
I was just talking w family abt this. #ColumbiaMD only loves diversity & inclusion above a certain pay grade.
We've been doing a lot of celebrating about how wonderful Columbia is as we celebrate its 50th Birthday. There's been an awful lot of self-congratulatory prose circulating. Not that we we shouldn't celebrate, mind you, but are we always honest with ourselves?
Some years ago I wrote:
Once upon a time we were pioneers in integration and multiculturalism. We had just the right kind of diversity, you know: nice upwardly mobile middle class integration and nice university professor sort of multiculturalism. ("A Reading from the Book of Rouse", March 4, 2013)
There it is: Columbia only loves diversity and inclusion above a certain pay grade.
I have heard people say that if there exists any racism in Columbia today it is because those people came after the crucial beginning years and don't understand what Columbia is all about. I don't know if that is entirely accurate. There's probably a grain of truth to it. Some of the original mission may have been lost over the years. We're like a church that has become comfortable in middle age and lost some of the zeal of its founders.
But what we are dealing with is not racism alone but also economic prejudice. We say that we don't have a social class system in American but this problem we have speaks to classism. Or perhaps we use our discomfort with the poor to justify subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle racism.
"If they can't afford to live here they don't belong here."
"I'm not a racist but--those kids who hang around the village center! Don't they have anything better to do? Why don't they get jobs?"
"All those kids who need free lunch are bringing down test scores at my village school. They're ruining our housing values."
Are we "dystopically homogeneous and willfully desolate"? No. Do we have serious work to do?
Yes. Yes, we do.