Social Question

cookieman's avatar

Do you feel more or less comfortable amongst a diverse population?

Asked by cookieman (38065points) February 19th, 2018 from iPhone

Whether out and about or at school or work. And by “diverse” I mean a group of people mostly or measurably unlike you, defined either by race or gender or age.

For example, I am a big, goofy, American, white guy. I am more comfortable, feel more “at home” or relaxed surrounded by a variety of races and genders. Whether I’m teaching a class or just out and about. This is partially why I like being in Boston so much.

Conversely, I’m actually less comfortable amongst a group of white dudes, like myself.

How about you? Why or why not?

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28 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

I feel more comfortable with diversity. It feels unnatural when the group is unrepresentative of the general population.

cookieman's avatar

It feels unnatural when the group is unrepresentative of the general population.

Ooh, I love that thought @LostInParadise. It does beg the question though, “Are you confidently aware of what the general population looks like?”

Is that an arguable point by some people?

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t do any calculations. It is just a feeling. If the age of the group is skewed in a certain direction or if there are few blacks included or much more of one gender than another, it just sets off an alarm that something is not quite right.

funkdaddy's avatar

I was tying to think of a situation as an example, and I don’t think we find a truly representative population very often. I can’t think of one anyway.

I’m not trying to be contrary, but it seems the purpose for whatever gathering you’re involved in is going to necessarily skew who attends. There isn’t anything that really brings “everyone” out.

I’m generally more comfortable in a mixed group of some sort, because too much similarity really emphasizes smaller and smaller differences. But I also feel like I belong or can relate to a lot of groups, so the times I feel truly out of place are pretty rare.

Thinking about it a little more, I was measurably different for most of the time I was growing up, but didn’t perceive it that way. I think eventually you just stop worrying about the categories and start looking for connections. It works better and I wish we could move towards that.

Diversity is good, but seeing commonalities everywhere seems better.

rojo's avatar

I find that my level of comfort is more adversely affected by being with people on a different socioeconomic level than by age, race or gender.

zenvelo's avatar

I live in a diverse part of the country, the San Francisco Bay Area. I am white, my father was Scottish, my mother Mexican., I have blue eyes.

One time I was on my way to the mountains and stopped at an In’n’Out burger. While waiting for my order, I turned to my friend and asked him if anything seemed odd. He said, “no”.

To which I replied, “I am the darkest person in this place.” It was eerie,

cookieman's avatar

@funkdaddy: I think planned groups, based on an activity for example, might skew more similar, but I’m talking more about random groups. At a festival, at the mall, at a tourist attraction. Here, sure, we’re all here to roughly do and see the same thing, but it tends to attract a broader demographic.

I like your last point, but can you explain how to see a commonality?

cookieman's avatar

@rojo: That’s interesting. Do mean folks with more or less money/influence than you?

Where do you see yourself in the spectrum? I’m middle class, skewing a bit up I suppose.

Are you less comfortable with folks “above” or “below” wherever you see yourself?

cookieman's avatar

@zenvelo: I know what you mean. For about eight years, I taught at an art & design college. Very diverse population by all definitions.

Then I started teaching at a more traditional college with NCAA sports teams and a variety of majors. My first class I walked into was all white, clean cut, athletic folks. 15 guys, 2 gals.

It took me a few weeks to adjust. None of my jokes landed. Many of references were lost on them.

funkdaddy's avatar

@cookieman – I guess working with marketing has probably made me too aware of how different areas skew demographically, but I think we share that? I see how your examples fit, but I’d look at them and see a festival as attracting similar people based on the purpose for the festival but always high income with free time, the mall skews young and higher income, a tourist attraction skews towards families, whites, and an even higher income.

I like your last point, but can you explain how to see a commonality?

The same way we see differences. It’s not harmful to notice someone’s skin color, it’s what we assume beyond that based on that alone that’s the problem. It’s just as easy to assume someone shares your love of bluegrass at the bluegrass festival, or lives in your neighborhood at the park, or is also a student in the university library. Even if you’re wrong, seeing possible connections is a lot healthier for everyone than finding differences and the stereotypes behind them.

chyna's avatar

I am a white female that came from an all white town (this was the 60’s and 70’s.). I went to a 95% black community college. I was never comfortable as even the professors would point me out during the first week. One from Nigeria even said “What is even better than Big Macs? Blondes!” I was the only white female with blond hair in there. I was scared my first year but over came it eventually. Still to this day, my state is pretty much white.
Very sad. We could use a much broader range of diversity here.

cookieman's avatar

Great points @funkdaddy. Thank you for elaborating.

rojo's avatar

@cookieman solidly middle class here. Being from a working class family for many generations I am a little more comfortable with those who are less well off than myself than with those who are better off.

Early years were spent growing up in a working class neighborhood in England. Predominantly white but not 100%. Had friends of several ethnic backgrounds but all from factory/dock worker families so similar backgrounds. Single grandmother, dad at sea much of the year, mom had several sisters who all lived close by each other and got together frequently so, for me, much interaction and learning from the female gender. Formative teen years in Corpus Christi, still lots of busing in the late 60’s early 70’s so diverse school environment but mainly white & hispanic lower middle class neighborhood and friends and on my block more girls than boys. College (first ever for any of my family) years mostly white, very conservative university with low female population so kind of monocultural but found a group of cavers that were more liberal in views and values and spent much time within this group. Adult years in building trade, much cultural diversity among those involved with construction but not much in the way of gender diversity once out of the office.

cookieman's avatar

That sounds like a jarring experience @chyna. To grow up in a mostly white area but then to be almost the only white kid at college (and have it commented on), to then still live in a mostly white area.

I might think, given that, you might be more comfortable to be back amongst mostly all whites. Why not then?

cookieman's avatar

@rojo: Got it. Thank you.

RocketGuy's avatar

I have found that homogeneous groups can more easily tend towards mob mentality. I’ve seen this in majority rich white settings (e.g. fundraising parties), majority black settings (e.g. McDonalds in certain LA neighborhoods), majority Chinese settings (e.g. school and political gatherings in certain SF Bay area neighborhoods).

cookieman's avatar

@RocketGuy: That’s interesting. Can you explain a bit about how these mob mentalities displayed themselves?

RocketGuy's avatar

As examples:
– rich white setting: looking down on wives who had to work, bemoaning recipients of govt aid. Maybe it’s just a rich thing, and not really a white thing.

- black setting: (we’re Asian) giving attitude and throwing change only at us. Treated other customers politely. We were the only non-blacks in the establishment. There is a black vs Asian thing in LA, but we thought a McDonalds at the edge of Compton would be OK.

- Asian setting: at a rally for a school proposition – Asians ranting about “Juanitas” taking college acceptance spots away from their “Tiger” kids.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m comfortable regardless of the group. I make friends regardless because I love good people and their stories. Recently I was in a hospital waiting room and met a lovely poor mountain man, there waiting for his wife to die. My family member didnt engage with him, and looked at his phone the entire time. But he was sad and lonely, and needed human interaction and compassion. I love when the stars align to push me to someone in need, no matter whats happening I will acknowledge that gift.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I prefer diversity. People will always form their tribes in any group. It’s just that it’s easier to find my tribe within several small tribes than one big tribe.

Yellowdog's avatar

I have found that most white people don’t identify with ANYTHING. No white person can truly be described as Anglo Saxon, though I admit, I feel at home with Anglo Saxon culture which I doubt never had much a foothold in the United States past the Great Depression,

Most of the places I’ve lived and worked have been predominately African American, and I am in a similar socio-economic bracket with them and share their struggles, particularly because I am on disability right now and most people on disability are African American. Most government workers, medical personnel, law enforcement, educators, and legal people whom I’ve been involved with in my daily life are African American,

There are also a great many Hispanics in my community and I have been on staff at a Korean church. I have been in religious settings with Koreans, Jews, and Russians.

All in all, I find that diversity is a good thing as long as we share the same core values and struggles. Thats why I prefer urban settings. I find the newer all-white suburbs near me to be incredibly bland and unimaginative. but I really feel at home among Collegiate Gothic and Tudor architecture, the hallmarks of all things Anglo Saxon—and the rural countryside that tends to be a mixture of Anglo and African American.

I was friends with many Scandinavian, German, and British exchange students when in School—I classify these as Teutonic—and though we are the same as a race, culturally the Germans and Scandinavians were extremely foreign to me.

cookieman's avatar

@KNOWITALL: I’m not sure what that says about your comfort with diversity, but it certainly demonstrates how kind you are.

@Mimishu1995: I think ibrelate to what you’re saying. Does that maybe speak to what @LuckyGuy is referring to? An aversion to larger, homogenous, mob mentality?

Such a great answer @Yellowdog. Can you define for me Anglo Saxon Culture?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Cookie I identify as a human, so race or income bracket just dont enter my mind in daily interactions.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@cookieman actually it’s both related and unrelated to @RocketGuy. I’m a strange person. I don’t have the concept of forming a mob, just compatible and incompatible. I can never understand the need to gather in a tribe that fits a certain standard. When I’m in a random group I treat everyone equally. It doesn’t always work out because people expect me to meet their standard instead of getting the same treatment like that.

The thing is, I find the the more diverse a group is, the more likely I will find someone that suits me. Because it’s simple: there will be more tribes if there are more groups of people.

I still can’t get into the mob mentality though. It’s just how I get by to connect with people.

Mariah's avatar

I am socially awkward as fuck, so I get nervous and uncomfortable when I can’t understand somebody’s accent. I’m afraid I’m going to embarrass myself by misunderstanding what they say and saying the wrong thing back – it’s a nervousness that’s about me, not about them.

Aside from that one hangup I have, I prefer diversity. Especially because I work in a field with a large majority white males. It is refreshing to get out of that setting and into the real world. I agree that it’s a great thing about living in Boston :)

cookieman's avatar

@KNOWITALL: Got’cha. That’s pretty great.

@Mimishu1995: I see what your saying. I get that.

@Mariah: My daughter agrees with you about accents. She too has trouble with them and thus feels self conscious.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have lived most of my life in Los Angeles. I am used to being around a diverse group of people and I prefer it that way. I lived in the Sacramento area for 2½ years among a predominantly white population and I never felt entirely at ease. A lot of white people think I am white (I’m only half white.) and I get to hear all of the horribly racist things they say. Even people who are perfectly nice to people of color say horrible things when among their “own kind”.

I don’t feel entirely comfortable with any group of people, but that’s just my anxiety. I don’t really fit in anywhere.

RocketGuy's avatar

@tinyfaery – I don’t really fit in either:
– too rich to be poor (kids ain’t gonna get financial aid in college)
– too poor to be rich (can’t afford a Tesla)
– Asian but too Americanized (can’t relate to newly immigrated Asians)
– not Americanized enough (can’t appreciate professional sports)

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