Because we live at a time wherein all information must be presented as eithera slideshow or a listicle, you have no doubt heard, and heard again, that Houston is the “most diverse” big city in America. What, you ask, are we to take from this vague superlative? How is it that we’ve won the right to lord our diversity dominance over Boston and Chicago?
The answers come packaged in a recently released study from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, where diversity scientists slaved for months over diversity petri dishes before declaring Houston superior. The Kinder Institute defines perfect diversity as equal shares of four major ethnic groups—Anglo, African American, Latino, and Asian. Thanks in part to an influx of over a million people in the past 10 years, Houston has a more even representation of the four major groups than, say, relatively white New York or relatively Latino Los Angeles. This methodology can’t account for diversity within those four groups, and so lumps together Ethiopians with African Americans, Mongolians with Singaporeans. But hey: we’re No. 1!
Which is not to imply that we’re all living side-by-side in a colorblind wonderland full of ambiguously ethnic babies holding tiny coffee-colored hands. That a jurisdiction packs four ethnic groups into its borders means very little if they live in separate, homogenous neighborhoods. So the researchers also measured segregation levels for every municipality in the metro area, from Sugar Land to Atascocita. And it turns out that segregation remains highest, by a long shot … in Houston proper. This, despite all the civic effort we poured into the slogan “East Montrose: A Living Mosaic.”
So where to go if you’re after a pan-ethnic paradise, a glorious mélange of food and culture and dialect, in which the only language we share is the universal language of love?Let us introduce you to a kaleidoscopic gem by the name of League City. Here’s another one: Spring. While the city of Houston is full of neighborhoods historically associated with a single ethnic group, this is less true of the new and growing subdivisions to which our one million new residents have flocked. In other words: If you like your neighbors motley, think highways, strip malls, and gratuitously columned McMansions. If that so-called mosaic lives at all, it lives somewhere in suburbia.