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Self-segregation not just racial

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 3, 2005

Is Notre Dame dubbed a self-segregated campus because Asians have a propensity to hang out with other Asians, or Hispanics with members of their own ethnic minority group, and so on? I am not about to deny that this takes place. Yet I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this.

If you take a look at the bigger picture, you’ll notice that birds of a feather indeed flock together, even outside the racial spectrum. Football players enjoy spending time together, just as musicians find comfort and joy in each other’s company. It’s only natural. Would you label this self-segregation? I wince at the word, with its negative connotation. I don’t believe that people who clump together do so with the intent of shunning people dissimilar to them. They just happen to find common ground and a strong foundation by which to form their relationships.

As a minority myself, I understand the value of discussion among members of ones ethnic group. People of the same ethnic heritage tend to have similar experiences and are consequently more likely to understand each another. Dialogue in this setting about one’s culture and outlook facilitates a greater understanding and acceptance of oneself. College is a time to cultivate one’s self-knowledge, which entails a certain degree of understanding in regards to one’s roots. This is why I find it not only acceptable, but valuable for ethnic minority groups to come together.

That isn’t to say that people of the same ethnic background should always spend time with each other – it’s important to branch out and meet others who might disagree with one’s beliefs or culture. After all, this is where learning in its most natural form takes place.

Last year, I remember being somewhat annoyed when I would see minority groups isolating themselves from others, perhaps because it seemed as though they were alienating others. Now, however, I understand the need for some people to do this. Can you imagine how hard it would be to live in a foreign country, stripped of your family and the comforts of the food, music and culture you’ve been used to your whole life? It’s no wonder some minority students seek each other out and inevitably “self-segregate” themselves.

If you truly want to learn about another culture and get to know people from other backgrounds and walks of life, take the initiative. Next time you pass by an ethnic minority group at the dining hall, ask to join them. You just might learn something about yourself.

Stephanie YoshidasophomoreHowardNov. 1