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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"The Discomfort Zone"

The Globe has a new series debuting in today's paper detailing how blacks and Latinos don't like Boston very much, or at least that seems to be the theme at hand. This first installment shares the thoughts of a young black woman who moved to the area recently and has had some truly horrifying experiences. A sampling:

Dufu found it jarring that a white woman whom she had just met felt comfortable confiding, "Oh, I just love bald black men," without seeing the objectification inherent in that remark.

Shocking! I'm sure no one in the rest of the country makes comments about racial characteristics and what they find physically attractive.

"When you talk about diversity, they tend to tense up here," says Dufu. In Seattle, she says, people of other ethnic groups would challenge her in an argument, whereas "Here, people are too afraid of being perceived as racist, so they close up."

They don't want to seem racist--how racist of them! Personally, I think she's incorrect on this one, since I've been around plenty of people who enjoy discussing diversity and such.

At a professional networking event, a woman regaled Dufu with a tale of a childhood friend who had five children and lived near her mother. The woman's tone of voice implied there was something wrong with both those facts. Then the woman bitingly observed that despite her early promise, the friend "ended up going to a state school." As a graduate of the University of Washington, Dufu was jolted by that strange locution -- "ended up." "That was the first time it dawned on me that I am not part of some upper echelon, because I didn't go to Harvard or Yale or MIT," says Dufu. Back home, she had felt like a success, having received both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English. "Then I come here, and I find there's a crop that's creamier," she says with a bemused laugh.

Wow, she met a snobby woman at a "professional networking event." Will wonders ever cease?

I freely admit Boston isn't perfect. I think the real problem is an overarching parochialism to the area, which makes all outsiders feel somewhat unwelcome. It's got some racial history too that isn't so wonderful, but it doesn't help much to connect petty crap like the stories in this article to busing and the past unpleasantness, please.