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Relative Diversity

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 11:30 PM



One of the few problems with Maine is that the state is 95 percent white, making us about even with Vermont for the least diverse in the nation. Fortunately, Portland is somewhat better: only 85 percent white, thanks in large part to the thousands of refugees and other immigrants from Africa who have settled here in the last 20 years. I won't pretend that I have a lot of interaction with that part of the community; I work in a much less-diverse part of the state, and the immigrants are not well-integrated into Maine's professional workforce.

Even so, it's evident the positive effects that the immigrants have on Portland. The public school system is considerably less white than the city as a whole, so the kids in those schools are benefitting from an environment that is incredibly diverse by Maine standards. And even for people who live in something of a bubble, like me, there are experiences like the dinner J and I had tonight. We walked just a few blocks to Asmara, an Eritrean restaurant we'd intended to try for months. We dispensed with utensils, drank miés (a honey wine) and learned a little bit from the restaurant's owners about their country of origin. It was a small thing, but I appreciated the chance to try something different.

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Striped top (Talbots)
Knotted necklace, Forever 21
Khaki skirt, Gap (eBay)
Red pumps, Franco Sarto (gift)

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