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Old 10-03-2009, 03:02 PM
 
145 posts, read 145,011 times
Reputation: 88

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I'm a black male in my early twenties who's currently attending UT. Because I attend UT, I find my social interactions and networks are primarily white - peers of roughly the same age group. However, after five months of Austin life (I transferred from a Dallas uni), I must admit I am a bit taken back by the blatant, in-your-face race consciousness among not only my peers but also many Austinites in general.

Allow me to elaborate.

Firstly, I want to distinguish between racism and race consciousness. The former is a strong aversion toward a group of people, often encompassing a belief that a certain group or groups conform to a set of stereotypes. Often times, these beliefs are rooted in a belief that another group is superior to the affected group.

The latter of course, is a consistent awareness of a ethnicity, race, or skin color and often entails direct or indirect comments, jokes, and/or various disparaging remarks.

I have found, sadly, that while I would not classify Austin, as a whole, as a racist city, I would most certainly allege that it does suffer from severe racial consciousness.

For instance, I cannot go to a social event (a party, a get to gether, or something more formal) without several comments about my blackness. This has been the case in restaurants, car dealerships, and even the grocery store. Needless to say, most of my dealings are in nicer, more affluent parts of the city, downtown, and of course the UT campus.

It seems like people in many of these places are very aware of my race, and make a point to say something about it. Personally, I don't get it - I know I'm black, you know I'm black, why does some kind of statement acknowledging this fact need to always be made?

As someone who grew up in an affluent and predominately white part of north Dallas, I must admit that I did not experience such race consciousness (directly, atleast) as I have in Austin. This is particularly surprising to me because I was always told that Austin is, by and large liberal, racially tolerant, and very relaxed.

Although I don't discount the claims of liberalism, particularly in regards to social issues, the city is just not diverse at all, and I cannot doubt that this is partially why people here are so enamored with me and the color of my skin.

I realize one cannot make broad generalizations about a city's character, but I must admit I am very disappointed in this trend. Austin has aspiractions of being cosmopolitan, but until more here are willing to embrace differences in others (particularly ethnic ones), I just don't see how that is possible.

 
Old 10-03-2009, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
42 posts, read 67,937 times
Reputation: 17
:-( sorry that sucks - i want to move to austin but cannot stand iggnorant people - but they seem to be taking over and are everywhere.
 
Old 10-03-2009, 03:14 PM
 
145 posts, read 145,011 times
Reputation: 88
I think Austin is a great city, and I'm not saying that it's not also a great city if you're non-white. However, that doesn't discount the fact that you will be a minority in many social/professional settings and comments will be made in this regard.

Again, I think Austin embraces a certain set of ideals in regards to it's liberalism, and this does not include non-whites or people which go against the majority groupthink of the city. I question how a place can call itself liberal but be so closed off in terms of true diversity - whether it be in different thought, ideals, style, or ethnicity.
 
Old 10-03-2009, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX!!!!
3,765 posts, read 7,888,633 times
Reputation: 1756
#14 Having Black Friends Stuff White People Like
This should explain the bizarre behavior.
 
Old 10-03-2009, 03:59 PM
 
1,148 posts, read 2,356,273 times
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Blacks in Austin historically were segregated to the East Side and were seen only as menial workers or criminals.
UT is a fairly racist organization historically. Texas government is also a racist institution. Texas more than any other state post reconstruction worked endlessly to ensure blacks were marginalized. Texas basically gave free land to European settlers to blunt the power of ex-slaves and tried their best to exclude blacks from land ownership, political power, and economic power.
Texas is one of the most racist states in the country historically and Austin reflects that. Though the racism was less overt and more codified here than in other parts of the deep South.
 
Old 10-03-2009, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX!!!!
3,765 posts, read 7,888,633 times
Reputation: 1756
Quote:
Originally Posted by orbius View Post
Blacks in Austin historically were segregated to the East Side and were seen only as menial workers or criminals.
UT is a fairly racist organization historically. Texas government is also a racist institution. Texas more than any other state post reconstruction worked endlessly to ensure blacks were marginalized. Texas basically gave free land to European settlers to blunt the power of ex-slaves and tried their best to exclude blacks from land ownership, political power, and economic power.
Texas is about the most racist state in the country historically and Austin reflects that.
Mississippi? Georgia? Alabama?
 
Old 10-03-2009, 04:10 PM
 
145 posts, read 145,011 times
Reputation: 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennibc View Post
#14 Having Black Friends Stuff White People Like
This should explain the bizarre behavior.
Funny. I guess I just find it disturbing that people my age are so hung up on and aware of race. I've never been and have never experienced this in the past.
 
Old 10-03-2009, 04:12 PM
 
1,148 posts, read 2,356,273 times
Reputation: 632
Atlanta is a better city today for blacks than is Austin. Also Georgia was the only state not to have a 'black code' post reconstruction that was specfically targetted against African-Americans. Also Georgia as far as I know did not import Europeans to try and take land away from blacks.

Last edited by orbius; 10-03-2009 at 04:24 PM..
 
Old 10-03-2009, 07:46 PM
 
634 posts, read 1,266,087 times
Reputation: 712
Austin promotes its progressive chops but it's a certain kind of progressivism. I've said in other threads that Austin's "diversity" is one where you will probably find a Tech exec hanging out with a tattooed hipster musician, but outside of that Austin's "diversity" is limited in scope. Your classic Tarrytown, Hyde Park, and Travis Heights liberals are indeed very left of center in that they support the Sierra Club and probably voted for Obama (see the Obama/Biden sticker on their left of center Prius hybrid for proof). This makes them "progressive", especially by Texas standards. But! If you look very, VERY closely at this same demographic as they cruise the "weird" South Congress strip you'll notice that most of these same people do not appear to intermingle much with people from different races. I doubt very much that most of them (or any of them!) are ardent racist in the vein of Bull Connor, but they also don't find anything wrong with the fact that most of them are happy to have Latino housekeepers and landscapers come to their fabulously overvalued homes while they rarely, if ever, associate with people of another race in any meaningful sense.

It's a very sad, but prevalent liberal hypocrisy. What's more, Austinites don't like to be told about it.

By the way, I can relate to what you mean when you talk about awkwardly being conscious of one's race in social situations. I've almost always, ALWAYS been the only non-white person when I've gone to parties here in Austin. I'm mixed race (Latina/African American).
 
Old 10-03-2009, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Willowbend/Houston
13,403 posts, read 21,182,398 times
Reputation: 10279
Heres the thing Ive noticed about Austin: Its progressive and liberal in just about every catagory, yet it one of the least diverse places Ive ever been.

I think diversity is just uncommon in most parts of Austin that its understandable that maybe certain people will be race consious. I dont think its common, but more common than say in Houston or Dallas.
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