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Boulder is lily-white because no one can afford to live here? O RLY?? - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-02-08 20:15
  Subject:   Boulder is lily-white because no one can afford to live here? O RLY??
When the Rev. Al Sharpton arrives on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus tonight for a speech, he will likely provide one more indication that CU and Boulder are fast developing reputations as symbols of racial division.


For Boulder and CU, the emerging reputation takes a hacksaw to the two communities' long-standing reputations as bastions of tolerance and liberalism. But those most active in the debate in Boulder disagree over to what extent the perception of Boulder as a racist place accurately describes the problem.

"You can't just make that generalization," said Karen Shimamoto, a CU junior who is director of diversity for the student government and a member of a blue-ribbon commission at CU studying diversity issues. "However, a certain number of people actually do feel unsafe in Boulder, and they have every right to."

Rob Smoke, chairman of Boulder's Human Relations Commission, said Boulder's problems lie less in overt racism than in gentrification that keeps poorer people out of the city. Boulder, he said, has never been very racially diverse. And with the median home price now around $460,000, it won't become so anytime soon.


I'm reminded of one of jadedragon13's favorite riffs: "Yeah, Boulder... most diverse bunch of rich white people I've ever seen!" It's funny because it's true. ;]

But I'm not trying to throw blame here. Well, okay, I do blame the Boulder city council's growth control policies for the land values here being so unbelievably inflated. But if Boulder is guilty of intentional racism by high housing prices, then so is every other rich community in the USA. Also, let's fact facts here - completely unaffordable housing is an equal-opportunity discriminator. I'm trying to think of anybody, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, or aquamarine who has managed to buy a house in the city of Boulder. I can't think of anyone. The best people seem to be able to do is a unit in a multi-unit building. Not exactly the American dream.

Al Sharpton can come and "raise consciousness" here all he wants, but it ain't going to help anything. Further the irony, it won't help even though his entire audience is in full agreement with him. (I think all of us good little Boulder liberals would like to see more diversity here, or at least I would.) I suppose it's also partly a self-perpetuating problem. There are only rich white people here, so minorities aren't comfortable moving in, which means that there are only rich white people here, which means minorities aren't comfortable moving in... and what the hell can you do about that? I don't want to force people to live somewhere that they're uncomfortable, that's just plain wrong.

As for the morons who sent email threatening some of CU's athletes because of their race, well, they're just morons. I admit that my four years at CU were spent in a cloistered, wonderbread, engineering ivory tower, but I never saw any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, etc, etc. Or maybe that's just nerds in general.
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  User: waterreflecting
  Date: 2006-02-09 00:02 (UTC)
  Subject:   my response to those who whine that "Boulder is too white"

Boulder was white before it was expensive, and compared to the national average its only lily white in that the population of Black residents is not very large (White 86.3% vs. national avg 75.6%). I think one reason it looks so white, given the percent of Hispanic residents, is that the majority of them are living at poverty level and they have different culture/family backgrounds. If 15% of Boulder County was black, you would certainly see a heck of a lot more "color" in the front of the house (not just the kitchen) when dining and drinking out.

I also think that all the whining about lack of diversity in Boulder only serves to make the community more unwelcoming to any minority family that may wish to move here. Especially, any family with kids. As quoted towards the end of the article linked above, the majority of Boulder residents and CU folks are welcoming to people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Boulder IS known as being liberal for more than just smoking pot and anti-war demonstrations. A few ass**** on the CU campus should be dealt with, but it’s not crisis time.

Besides, you can't exactly compare Boulder to D.C. -- one recent article I read had a quote from some girl from D.C. whining about CU's lack of diversity -- well, no duh! D.C. has more black people than white people! As of 2000 Census the population was 61% Black & 30% white in the District of Columbia, and yet I wonder how many of those white folks are there for work with the US Government or Georgetown University? Are the wealthy neighborhoods white or black? What about the Demographics of the D.C. prison population? At least Boulder, despite it's lack of statistical diversity, is relatively integrated, boasting a thriving Nepalese community, the largest Shambala Buddhist center in the US, and for the most part a welcoming non-racist population.

Go anywhere in the country where with large populations and you will find people grouped by ethnicity, race, and economic status. A larger population of minorities is not necessarily an indicator of a healthy diverse community. In fact, the divisions and lack of integration in many major metropolitan areas is frightening. We should spend more time worrying about why, despite the efforts of folks like Dr. King and Rosa Parks, more minorities continue to live in poverty and lack proper educations. Accusing people in Boulder of being too white is going to do little to solve the problem. Unless of course you are wondering why parents of white kids are pulling their kids out of Columbine elementary school...which, is yet another problem our community faces. In my opinion, we should be worrying more about integrating the white and hispanic residents of Boulder, than trying to figure out how to import 20,000 black people, so we can call ourselves diverse.
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  User: waterreflecting
  Date: 2006-02-09 00:27 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I might add I find this a nearly hopelessly large issue, that is perhaps best resolved in the home. From day one, parents need to teach their kids respect for all people and about people who are different from themselves. How do we get to the kids whose parents fail at this job? Well, that makes the jobs of schools that much more important. Especially public schools.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2006-02-09 01:16 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Not exactly related but, a bit of irony here. I hear comments like 'America is the melting pot of the world' and the like (and, as a whole, I suppose it is but, it is a generalization and you do have places like Boulder, etc) but, after having arrived in Boulder, how many non-white friends do I have? Ethan? I think that's about it.

Contrast this with how many people consider Japan to be a very closed society, even prejudiced to outsiders. There, I went to school with African-American, Filipino, Pakistani, Indian (no, not native Americans - imagine that, a Pakistani and an Indian going to the same school), British and Korean students. And I didn't think twice about it.

Never was I more aware of my half-Japaneseness (though I do recall getting picked on by some neighborhood kids when I was really, really young but, that stopped past 7 or 8) or how much racial tension existed until I came back to the US. Where the books in the library referred to Blacks/African-Americans as 'colored'. Where a kouhai referred to me as a 'Chink' and I couldn't understand why he would use a derogatory term for a Chinese person at a half-Japanese person.

Maybe, being younger, I wasn't as keen of my environment and didn't notice the subtleties of bias and prejudice. What I do remember is that, I wasn't as aware of it until I came back here.

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Gam E. Ra
  User: mrotakki
  Date: 2006-02-09 02:20 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
The CU campus is possibly the most intolerant campus I have ever attended or visited.

Don't want to save the whales? Get ready for the mudflinging. Don't care about boarding Japanese vessels out at sea to protest trawling? Get ready for a pressgang to come and yell at you. Wearing Nike sneakers? Well holy shit that's from a sweatshop. Watch the protesters come to try to publicly humiliate you.

The people who are supposedly open-minded on campus are the ones who are most vocal and most likely to berate you and try to publicly humiliate you if you don't agree with them. The other majority are too rich to care. Oddly enough, the open-minded people are the ones who just don't give a damn and want to be left alone.

It's ironic that in order to be truly open-minded on campus, you have to ignore the ones who say they are open-minded and the ones that are supposedly open-minded are the most closed-minded people you will ever meet.

I would never recommend CU as an undergraduate institution to anyone. Period. As a gradaute program in engineering or physics, this is a hotspot, but if you're an undergrad, I would say "stay the fuck away from this cesspool." People who send their kids here most likely have tons of money to burn. They'd have to if they are consciously sending their children to an institution full of students that preach intolerance and lies.
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  User: waterreflecting
  Date: 2006-02-09 04:45 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I spent 4 years in Arts & Sciences (BA '99) and I grew up on the Campus. First in the French Department and then later on in the Graduate School. My mom has taught and worked with Diversity programs since the 80s and I have grown up surrounded by a wide variety of open minded and friendly people on the CU Campus. Less than 50% of CU students are out of state and yes some are rich and snobby, but I think people let their perceptions of "others" get a little out of hand. As for the SEAC (Student Environmental Action Committee)people, I lived with a few in the Masala Co-op and yes they were apt to "condemn" you if you weren't up for living in a shanty town in Norlin quad to protest Nike, but their group was actually quite small, about 50 people or less out of 25,000 students. They just happened to be very vocal, and in the case of Nike successful.

A list of diversity workshops offered by the GTP on the CU campus:


This is not to say its not a problem, if it wasn't CU wouldn't be offering workshops. On the otherhand, the fact that workshops are offered does mean that people care and are trying to make a difference. When CU accepts students from around the state and the country, they are inevitably going to pick some bad apples. Thus, it is important to try and open the eyes of these bad apples, but stamping them as "intolerant" and difficult, doesn't make us any better than them...A little compassion and trying to put yourself in another's shoes can go a long way. Do people choose to be intolerant? Or are they intolerant because they are afraid of the unkown? Afraid of changing the status quo?
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Gam E. Ra
  User: mrotakki
  Date: 2006-02-09 07:52 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Personally, I'm tired of trying to be tolerant of the intolerant ones on the CU campus. If that makes me one of the intolerant ones, so be it.

I am simply not going to deal with their bullshit any more than I have to, and as I am defending in April, I will not have to deal with their insipid shit much longer.

The majority of the students I deal with may still be the minority of the student body, but their presence is enough to make my experience here one of the worst in terms of an academic environment with undergrads. Being at the University of Minnesota wasn't this bad. Hell, being at a private liberal arts college wasn't this bad. Yes, having a huge student population makes the number of bad apples significant even if the relative ratio is small, but the fact of the matter is that you run into them often enough and the fact that they are that vocal about forcing their view of "expanding your mind" on you regardless of whether or not you agree, or even want to know is ridiculous.

Do I make the environment or atmosphere worse? Probably - and I'm more than willing to acknowledge it; but all the same I point out that initially, I was willing to be content to ignore the radical ones and go on with research quietly and without concern. But five years of it is enough for my stomach and at this point it's worn away at me for so long that I am simply disgusted with them. I was pushed to the breaking point and then violently pushed over the line with the students that tell me I'm irresponsible for not signing up with the "eco-superfriends" that protest Dell (I'm Asian which makes me techno-literate which makes me the problem), or tell me I'm as bad as Al-Qaida for eating kosher beef (hooray PETA). I fully expect the anti-fur/anti-meat/anti-genomic engineering/anti-science people to assault me some time this spring because I'm participating in the corruption of the Earth/society/people/neutrino balance. The fact that I haven't had my lab stormed for polluting the environment horribly (holy shit chemistry is NOT GREEN) this year is surprising. And yes, I have had one loon go in my lab already accusing us of putting mercury or mind-controlling agents in the water. Are these people a minority? Yes. Are they still ruining the experience? Jesus yes.

I do not disagree that the University is trying to fix things. That's perfectly fine, but the fact is that they are in damage control and it speaks enormously of the problems on this campus that for the past few years (2? 3?) the university has been on serious damage control all the time.

I am willing to shoulder the blame for being intolerant, but I'm also going to point the finger and say that I wouldn't be this way if I wasn't pushed by the "tolerant" into this position. The way I see it, right now I am pretty good about not being discriminatory. I simply hate everyone equally! Equal opportunity! Sure, it'd be best to be compassionate, but you can only throw your head violently into a brick wall for so long before the ensuing brain damage takes its toll.

PS - Trying to run highly sensitive reactions in the lab while people are blasting anti-Dell propaganda or carrying on their anti-Disney crusades in front of the lab windows is pretty damn tough. Fuck those guys. Seriously.
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Gam E. Ra
  User: mrotakki
  Date: 2006-02-09 07:58 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
And before you launch into a tirade about how skewed my view is, bear in mind that:

(1) I am used to being discriminated against. I've had everything from personal physical violence brought upon my family or our home to threatening notes in my locker. I am calling it like I see it.
(2) I am not bullshitting you.
(3) I am not disagreeing that the bad apples are a minority, but when you are eating fruit, if you bite into a rotten piece, most people will not smile and keep plugging away.
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  User: waterreflecting
  Date: 2006-02-09 19:23 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Perhaps a few have gone off their rockers, protesting Disney in Boulder is a little overboard on the CU Campus. Might be more effective at the Boulder Public Library or somewhere parents take kids...

But seriously, I don't think that much has changed in the last few years at CU other than the fact that peple have decided to attack the admin for various reasons. With more right wingers in power at the State and Federal Level, people have been attacking CU on all sides. Some say its too liberal, while the extreme liberals say not enough is being done...When it comes to football, accounting, environment and so on, some folks are making mountains out of mole hills and wasting valuble dollars that could actually be spent on improving things...like more scholarships or minority students or Colorado residents. Colorado BTW, may boast a huge number of college graduates, but we didn't raise them we imported them...Colorado has one of the lowest rates in the nation of actually sending our own kids to School.

CU is also not the only university facing these issues at this time... I am not so sure the University of Minnesota or anywhere else would be much different in this day and age. For example, Coke products are no longer sold on the U of M campus, because the students were successful in persuading the Admin. that Coke has serious human rights and environmental violations around the world. And, a few years back there was a sit in and tent camp in the quad at Harvard for several months, with students and faculty advocating living wages for the janitors. People are complaining and protesting everywhere you go...its not just CU.
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Willow: Cartoon Willow
  User: willow_red
  Date: 2006-02-09 17:19 (UTC)
  Subject:   Defining Diversity and Achieving It
Keyword:Cartoon Willow
jadedragon13 is right: we do have a very diverse group of white people in Boulder. When I'm walking my dog around the neighborhood, I play "Guess the Language" my neighbors and other walkers are speaking. I've heard Russian, German, French, and a couple of other languages I couldn't identify. That's in addition to the Spanish that's probably the most common non-English language in Boulder, but most of those people are not strictly white. Boulder has a very high religious diversity. The number of faiths I was aware of has more than doubled since I moved to Boulder. And while you get the occasional pockets of morons here and there, most people don't care where you come from or what you're into. However, there is the unfortunate attitude that diversity means African-Americans. In my experience, it almost never means Asians, and only sometimes means Hispanics. I suspect that the first definition is what the Rev. Al Sharpton is interested in. This is unfortunate because it only leads to more discrimination, or what my parents call "reverse discrimination".

My experience at CU was and continues to be centered around the College of Engineering. We rarely got bothered by the "Causeheads", but rather found them to be a source of entertainment from the other side of campus. They were part of what made CU fun. Back on the racial question, there were a couple of black students in aerospace, along with the occasional Asian, and a handful of women. Just like most of the white males, most of the minorities worked hard and got through like everyone else. However, just like there are morons among white males, there are morons in the "diverse" population too. The example that pops into my mind was one girl who happened to be black, and she thought that the color of her skin should have been a passport to a degree that she shouldn't have to work for. She rarely showed up for class, barely did homework, and tended to miss exams. When anyone threatened to flunk her, she would claim discrimination and call in various groups that exist to promote diversity. (Apparently, the only thing she ever showed up to on a regular basis was meetings of the National Society of Black Engineers.) (It was really funny when she tried this with the one black professor in the department, who also happened to be one of the best instructors I ever had.) Yeah, as you might expect, she repeated some classes, and to the best of my knowledge, never got her degree. My point here is that while diversity is a Good Thing that should be generally supported, it is equally important to not let the pendulum swing too far in either direction, such that people can exploit the system based on what amounts to an accident of birth.

So Boulder is ridiculously expensive to live in. Well, that happens when you limit growth. Suddenly, the supply doesn't increase as fast, while the demand goes up because we still have pretty mountains to look at instead of row upon row of suburban sprawl. Personally, I think the City Council did the right thing. The effects are unfortunate, but IMHO, losing the natural beauty that attracted people here in the first place is just as bad, if not worse. Yes, I could only afford a condo on an engineer's salary. Yes, I pay a premium to live in Boulder (and I'm very lucky that I can afford to do so). However, when house-hunting, I considered carefully which I wanted more: a dinky condo in my favorite town that I've ever been to, or a nice big house with a bit of a drive to the place where I prefer to spend my time. You already know the choice I made.
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tiger0range: society
  User: tiger0range
  Date: 2006-02-10 00:39 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: Defining Diversity and Achieving It
I agree with the assesment. I never grew up in Boulder, so I can pretty much take it or leave it. I don't know what I would feel if Fort Collins went Boulder's direction, but anyway...

Boulder is a town, it's not the world. If I want, I can still drive up Baseline, take in the Flatirons, get accosted by hippies at the 16th street mall, etc. etc. Even if they hadn't limited growth, you would still have sky high house prices for places with great mountain views or short distances to the trails and such, pretty much like you have now, except that you would have all the sprawl and even worse traffic to go along with it.

I have a hard time with how some Boulderites look down their noses at the surrounding communities. Personally, I'm just fine with Gunbarrel, Longmont, or Superior... There are like a crapload of Indians living in those places, I wouldn't feel out of place at all! ^_^ And it's not like it's that far away.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-02-11 06:50 (UTC)
  Subject:   Someone from Longmont once told me...
"It's really not a bad town at all if you're not single."

And exactly right he was! But unfortunately, I'm single...
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