For all the talk of a post-racial America, critical differences still persist among races and ethnicities. Lifespan, wealth, employment and education continue to vary greatly by race and so, too, does where we live. In big cities buzzing with people of all backgrounds, self-segregation can seem virtually nonexistent. But take a look at the friends found in social media networking circles, and the divisions are often starkly clear. It’s time for us to face the reality that for many Americans, even if we live and work around “diversity,” our best friends and spiritual leaders, the people we invite into our lives and homes, often look like we do, reinforcing a de facto segregation. This social and cultural segregation isn’t restricted to “uneducated” people living in the country. It is equally prominent in environments where smart, educated people are supposed to “know better”. If our social worlds were more integrated, perhaps we would see it trickle down to the way we govern and the way we dispense justice. Having some sort of connection, a shared experience is the only way to truly understand race. Our experiences are shaped not just by legalese and policy, but also by understanding and interacting with each other and the sooner we become socially integrated, the better off we’ll be for it.
August 26, 2014