Monday, October 3, 2016

Self Segregation

While back, our town had an art walk down Main street and a Latino festival coinciding side by side. The art walk has been going on for years but has been declining to the point that it now spans only part of a block and only in one row, versus multiple blocks with multiple rows in the past. I think a lot of this has to do with our county being the poorest county in the state and there just isn't money there to support luxury items like original artwork to hang on your walls. I don't help because though I have the money for such things, I prefer to put my own artwork up on my walls over that of someone else. Anyway, there was a steady dribble of people walking through the handful of stalls selling original art and when compared to the block next to this one, it was a pretty white European crowd.

We crossed the intersection to the next block of Main street and the Latino festival, the first year in that location, was going strong. There were three times as many people there and although there were a smattering of us white European (and pacific rim Asians) among the crowd, it was for the large part, a Latino crowd. While the art walk required cash to buy anything, at the Latino festival, everything except for a few food vendors was free. Because there was more things to do there, we spent the majority of our time with the Latino crowd.

It got me to pondering why we tend to self segregate ourselves as a community rather than integrate and enjoy the multitude of cultures around us? Language is probably the biggest reason as the sound stage out of frame to the left was completely in Spanish of which I have forgotten more than I remember by a factor of 20. However, I still enjoy watching the performances even if I have no idea what they represented.

I don't think that is the only reason because having lived twenty miles away in a town with more cultural diversity than any other town in the nation, everyone tended to co-mingle just fine at community events. So I wondered if it has partly to do with education. My former town graduated nearly 100% of their students every year. My current town just celebrated the fact that they now graduate 89% of the students now, up from 75% of the students a decade earlier. I am blown away that one in ten kids don't graduate from high school anywhere in this country.

I guess I'm at a loss for reasons but self segregation in this town anyway is still very much alive. For those who don't abide by it, there are some perks. A friend of mine clued me in to a little shop that makes fresh corn tortillas daily. I stopped by and bought a stack of 25 or 30 so tortillas (they only sell by the pound and I got one pound worth) for a measly one dollar. They tasted like heaven on earth that evening for supper and cost a small fraction of what I pay for in the store. Seeing we had so many, we didn't get them all eaten and the following day, they tasted only slightly better than what I have got from the supermarket. So I have realize that tortillas you buy in the supermarket are only stale cousins to fresh ones. I'll never buy another non-freshly made corn tortilla again.


Kelly said...

I think people, in general, tend to segregate themselves - especially when it comes to worship and entertainment. It's just a fact of life. But... when folks want to mingle (as with the ecumenical services we have during Holy Week), it always seems to go well.
I'd have to look up the exact demographic for my county, but on any given day I see as many black faces as white and a good mix of brown (normally Latino, but a few other ethnicities).

Vince said...

We tend to group for safety. But we tend to remain grouped from fear of the other, and this either real, self generated as a psychosis or a tool of those that gain from keeping people is that state.
In a way, the US is an interesting study of the breakdown of such groups, and of their reformation in other contexts. For where once you had organs like the KKK which crossed otherwise inviolable protestant sects. Which in the 20s killed a catholic priest and were defended by a future supreme court justice. By the 60s social control as delivered by all the churches was in free fall. But then you had that upswing of eastern religiosity, so much so that you have a little city/town/camp near you miles away for the cities you'd expect them to form.
Why today, I'd say Race, Religion and Rear. To break it, Education, Education and Hope by way of decent jobs, not some half job no one else wants.

sage said...

Like you, I'd probably have hung out at the Latino party--especially if they have free stuff. I do think there is a bit of self-segregation, but there are other forces too that keep us apart.