Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Difference Does Having An Interracial Roommate Make?

Have you ever lived with someone of a different race? Did it change your perspective of what you thought of that person's race? The answer largely depends on the environment in which you were raised. If you grew up in a heterogeneous neighborhood with lots of diversity, living with someone that looks different from you was no big deal. If not, then problems are likely. Research shows that interracial roommates can reduce prejudice among college students...sometimes.

However, interracial roommates were also more likely to break up. Why? Sometimes the differences (i.e. music, friends of friends) are so vast as to be irreconcilable. Of course, roommates of the same race break up often too, so it's hard to say. One thing researchers safely agree on is that it is these instances of living together where efforts at diversifying college campuses really make a difference. In class, whites cluster with whites, blacks with blacks and so on. But, one-on-one in the dorm room? Adapt and acclimate or fight and become embittered.

1 comment:

The Angry Independent said...

No roommates of a different race... (simply because i'm not a roommate kind of guy... such an arrangement just wouldn't work out for me).

The closest I came to that was Summer Camp, and Sports leagues as a kid (which required travel and sleepovers, etc). Those experiences weren't long enough to really tell if I gained any new perspectives.

But most of my classmates in my Texas High School (my last 2 years) were White & Hispanic... and from that experience, I did learn more about not judging too soon.

When I moved from the urban blight of St. Louis to suburban/rural Kansas in the early-mid 80's, it was a culture shock for me. But it turns out... I felt more welcomed by the White kids. They went out of their way to welcome me. I got more trouble from the Black students than from the White students. Although I ended up gravitating more towards the Black students for friendship... because that's just how things were.

But those experiences left a lasting impression.