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Balancing grouping

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 10, 2005

As I read the letters discussing whether segregation is natural (Stephanie Yoshida Nov. 7) or racism is still alive (Jeff Tate Nov. 8), I can’t help but ask why it is that a group of “minorities” sitting together is seen as “self-segregating” while a group of “non-minorities” sitting together is not?

In a setting where there is a clearly dominant group – in Notre Dame’s case, white Catholics – it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing the dominant group’s behavior as “normal” and the behavior of any other group as “different.”

The truth is that when a group of white Catholics sits together, they are just as self-segregated as is a group of Asians, blacks, or Latinos sitting together. In saying this, I am not attaching any value, positive or negative, to self-segregation. I am just pointing out that it is a behavior common to all.

Mingling with and becoming friends with people whose backgrounds are different from your own is a good thing. It broadens one’s views and, I suppose, contributes to world peace. Spending time with people who share your own background is a good thing, too. It brings a sense of comfort and belonging that, in its own way, also contributes to world peace.

The key is balance. There’s time for both.

Phil Sakimoto facultyprofessional specialist in physics Nov. 9