Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I'm at the Portland, OR airport and as I'm looking around me, it dawns on me that there are is a certain homogeneity to airline passengers--especially at 8am (I've been here since 7:00am) and especially when it's not summer. Although I do think you can detect certain regional differences (there tends to be a higher concentration of Asian American passengers in the Bay Area/CA), in general most airline passengers appear to be white middle-class American--with a fair number of them being business travelers (mostly male, some female). There's more than a similarity to race, however--there's a similarity to our luggage, to our dress, and in a post-9/11, post-British bomb scare world, there are many less carry-ons and many more flip-flops/sandals.

It does make sense that airline passengers would be a fairly middle-class bunch--although air fares have decreased in recent times, the truth is, it still costs money and it takes a certain mentality to fly (I recently came across a few examples of people who never fly--out of fear-anxiety but also because they were priced out of such travel or believed themselves to be and because they never flew before, as adults I think there was a certain anxiety about this type of unknown travel).

So my question is: are there any places that are truly heterogeneous? Where diversity really exists on every level--gender, race, class, sexuality, region, religion, age? Traveling by train you see more people of color (especially in the South you see more African American travelers) but there still doesn't seem to be true diversity (there are also a lot of college aged people on trains). Would a baseball game be a more representative slice of America? Do sporting venues give us the chance to come together en masse and in public? Or perhaps it's the hospital--after all, illness never discriminates.

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