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.