The other night I went to a choir concert at A's school. One of the ways I pass the time at things like this (I'm not that musical) is to scan the faces of the children and try to guess their ethnic background. This is a fun pastime in Los Angeles because the city is astonishingly diverse.
At my children's French schools, in spite of the occasional pale, Asian, North African or blond kid, there was still visibly a "typical French" face-- which over the years I came to define as sallow or olive skin, long faces with slim noses, and gray-blue or brown eyes. (By "typical French" I don't mean that most French people look like that, only that if you saw that face, you would think the person looked French.)
It made me feel patriotic to see all the different groups that made up the multi-ethnic mix in A's choir. There were scarcely two kids who looked as if they came from the same background.
But even though diversity is the path of the future for the United States, I have mixed feelings about it. That's because I think that it has its costs, as well as its benefits. If every country became multicultural like ours, diversity would be lost, not gained.
For example, I am sad that the Irish language , which my grandparents spoke and which has the oldest vernacular literature in Europe, is dying out. Every language is a universe. Think how different the vocabulary is in different languages. There have been studies showing that bilingual people behave and think differently, depending on which language they are using. That means something big is lost when a language disappears.
Small ethnic groups are the original source of diversity. I don't like to see any group be melted completely and disappear from the earth. And that means that somewhere, that group needs to have a core where people stay together and belong. Sometimes, when my Czech au pair or my Finnish friend spoke of their nation, which is pretty much one with their ethnic group and their language (and let's not forget that DNA analyses are showing that many small ethnic groups are basically very large families)-- I would feel envious of the sense of belonging that they must have. No American can know what that feels like. So I want some places to remain.... un-diverse.
Is that racist?
You know, I don't think it is.