Ethnic balance is wrong

We went with the family across the border over to New York (specifically Long Island) for a few days last week. One of the things that I noticed most was the ethnic balance. It seems that there are only whites, blacks and Latinos. With English being the dominant language and Spanish sometimes being spoken not too loud.

Of course, every city and place has its own ethnic distribution. I remember moving from Montreal to Toronto and thinking how white and English Toronto was. Then I moved to the Cornwall area and while it was nice to have an English / French mix, the truth was that it was more of a division than mix (as well as the Catholic / Protestant divide) - not to mention, that if you hadn't lived there for 300 hundred years, you were an outsider.

I like Ottawa for its diversity. It is predminantly an English city with a strong French presence (thanks to Hull just across the river). But other ethnicities are present too. There are Africans and Asians, Middle Easteners and Latinos. It is very common to hear non-English and non-French speech in the city.

In New York (Long Island), there was hardly an Asian to be seen and I don't think I saw one Middle Eastern / Arabic person. Aside from Chinese spoken in a Chinese restaurant and some overheard Polish at a museum and the whispered Spanish among the Latinos, English was the only thing I heard.

Image borrowed from here.


b said…
Well, I hope you had a good trip, despite the lack of diversity. Interesting how there are "pockets" near very diverse areas (namely, Manhattan in this case) in which diversity is seriously lacking.
chris said…
I'm a first time visitor, just wanted to say that I enjoy what you're doing here. I particularly enjoyed the two versions of the F.P. movie trailer - very interesting.
Richard said…
breal: ha ha, I am not complaining about lack of diversity, simply pointing out how something that is so seamingly similar is so different. Of course, it does not help that I use a judgemental word (wrong) in my title, but I could have just as easily made it "We're not in Kanas anymore".

Yeah, we had a good time.

chris: thanks! Although, to be honest, I have no idea what I am doing - aside from sharing my thoughts.
KayMac said…
Growing up, I LOVED my grandparents' neighborhood. They were immigrants on a street filled w/ immigrants. We were exposed to different languages, cultures, customs and it was a blast.
I'd love to go to New York! NYC is a veritable melting pot.
Ottawa sure is a lot more diverse than when my parents grew up there!

I couldn't get the spider pic!
Richard said…
breal: In most cases, it is not the listener’s fault for not understanding, but the communicator's for not being adequately clear. I suppose I could have prefaced it with a disclaimer along the lines of, "Stepping off the bus, my visceral reaction was ... the ethnic balance is all wrong." I guess this is why professional writers do rewrites and amateurs flame

kaymac: eek, eek ... not sure how to respond to your post - since, I don't want to be defensive about mine. I think anyone who has grown up in a relatively large city (I can't be any more precise than that - I grew up in Montreal) is definitely going to be exposed to different cultures. And I wish more people had this opportunity. Not the exposure to a limited culture (too often, I notice that people congregate within their own community / culture, creating a ghetto), but in a truly integrated community. I was fortunate that my parents chose not to associate with the Polish community.

MOI: what is it with women and NY? It is a big city, with lots of stuff, but having lived in Montreal and Toronto I am not that impressed by big cities.

There is nothing to get about the spider picture, I just needed something to keep my blog from being so terribly idle (as it has been the too long while).
Tena said…
Hi Richard,

I'm about to make my first trip to Toronto (my husband has a conference there). Even if it seems white and English, as you say, it will be fresh in my eyes. I'm looking forward to going north of the border.
Richard said…
tena: well, that was 20 years ago. Toronto is pretty multi-ethnic nowadays (it is claimed to be the most ethnically diverse city in the world). If you get a chance, I recommend checking out the China town, it was big and vibrant 20 years ago and still is. I always enjoyed walking there because I found it a respite from the Anglo-whiteness that was Toronto back then.

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