One day after yoga practice at Lifetime Fitness I was talking to a couple of progressives about diversity. One was Anglo, the other Asian/Mexican. As progressives, they were very proud of San Antonio’s diversity. I mentioned to them that San Antonio may be diverse, but it was also one of the most socio-economically segregated cities in America.
Although my statement surprised them, they seemed to accept it, and we moved on. But when I got home, I decided to confirm my accuracy. A quick google search took me to the news item that I had based my statement on. According to a March 2016 editorial in the San Antonio Express-News:
- Overall, San Antonio is middle of the road for big cities when it comes to prosperity and distress. But where we stand out is in our segregation and inequality. We lead the nation when it comes to the extreme differences between our more prosperous neighborhoods and our most distressed neighborhoods. Put another way, our prosperity is not at all shared among the city’s residents. We are the least equal city in the country.
- Case in point: ZIP code 78207, our poorest. The index highlights this ZIP code and compares it with 78258, on the North Side, and our most prosperous ZIP code. In 78207, nearly half of the adults don’t have a high school diploma. Nearly 60 percent of adults are not working. Unemployment is up. Income is far below the state’s median level. The poverty rate is stuck at 42 percent.
- In 78258, only 2 percent of residents don’t have a high school diploma. Two-thirds of adults are working. Incomes are way above the state’s median income level. Employment is zooming. The poverty rate is 4 percent. “These communities look like two different countries,” said Steve Glickman of the Economic Innovation Group.
I forwarded the editorial to my two friends and then pointed out the ultimate irony – they both lived in 78258. So, although they advocate for diversity and integration, they live lives of homogeneity and segregation. Sort of like public-school advocates who send their children to private schools. Or carbon-fuel opponents who consume prodigious amounts of fuel. And it’s not just progressives. There are all sorts of conservatives who don’t walk the walk.
This reminds me of another yoga teaching about changing myself and that will change the world. Or as Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world… As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”