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Roomate Lists Racial/Ethnic Preference

redcapredcap 69 replies8 threads Junior Member
Hello guys,

So I recently received my housing assignment and I'm indifferent at this point in terms of location. It's a 15 min walk to Tommy Trojan, apartment with 4 others. I got to speak to 1 one of my roomies who seems pretty cool. The others I haven't met yet. However, after browsing their profile description, I noticed one of the other roommates listed that they would prefer to room with people of his own ethnicity/race whatever you want to call it.

I'm slightly worried. I can reassign, but I'm scared I'll get an even worse assignment. But if I stay, I don't want to be forced to live with a racist or a xenophobe.

What should I do??
edited June 2013
11 replies
Post edited by redcap on
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Replies to: Roomate Lists Racial/Ethnic Preference

  • CPUscientist3000CPUscientist3000 5346 replies104 threads Senior Member
    Someone who feels more comfortable living with someone of their own ethnicity/culture isn't necessarily racist. Especially if the person is African American, Latino, Asian, or Native American, there's a high chance they've experienced things with people of other races that made them uncomfortable. I would prefer to live with someone of my own ethnicity (we didn't get a preference for anything) because I don't want to get 1000s of questions about my hair and certain things I do with it when going to sleep. A Caucasian person could also prefer to live with someone of their own race, especially if they've never/hardly ever come in contact with other races. College is new territory and for many people they've never been around so many people "not like them" on the outside. Give your roommate the benefit of the doubt. Don't judge before you get to know.
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  • redcapredcap 69 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Well, as a "minority" I guess I can kind of see where you're coming from but at the same time I just don't understand why the color of a person's skin would make someone more comfortable. It says nothing about who they are, what their personality is like, their habits etc.
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  • CPUscientist3000CPUscientist3000 5346 replies104 threads Senior Member
    If you don't mind me asking, what's your ethnicity? Because if you're not a "minority" then no amount of explaining I can do to make you understand (of course not *every single person* of one ethnicity shares the exact same life experiences).

    People are a lot more comfortable living with people of their own culture. That's just how humans are (birds of a feather flock together).

    Just because your roommate listed a preference doesn't mean s/he's repulsed by other races.
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  • redcapredcap 69 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I am "middle eastern" (I hate that term, it's so vague. my parents are from Jordan) but I was born here in the US. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an incredibly diverse community but I'm still a minority wherever I go.
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  • CPUscientist3000CPUscientist3000 5346 replies104 threads Senior Member
    I'm guessing in your culture there's a strong preference for marrying inside your ethnicity? And if someone dates/wants to marry someone outside your ethnicity, it's frowned upon? I don't mean just the people in the US, but back in Jordan too. How would the people there view an interracial relationship?

    Even here-whites, blacks, Latinos, etc- the (unspoken, even subconscious) expectation in each culture is that you date/marry someone in your ethnicity or one that's "accepted". IE white and Asian is a common one.

    (Almost) the same thing with your roommate wanting a preference for their own ethnicity.

    I don't like the term Middle Eastern because its a US term and it places America at the center of the world and names other regions in relation to it.

    I have Muslim friends in college initially worried about roommates because of their hijabs--people don't usually like their culture put in the spotlight and questioned, for whatever motives (just curious, thinks it's weird, etc)

    Long story short, relax.
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  • redcapredcap 69 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I almost feel ignorant for disagreeing with you on the marriage part. I work at a family style restaurant in a suburb smack-dab in the middle of Orange County and even I, someone who grew up in the melting pot, was surprised to see how many interracial/ethic/religious families their were. A MAJORITY of the families were either primarily mixed or had atleast one person of a different flavor. It's really beautiful actually :p

    But we're going off topic

    I'm not freaking out about it, I just thought it was something to consider. Racism/Xenophobia is something I fight against a lot. But you're right it doesn't necessarily mean he is or isn't. Also, I'm just asking for advice because I fear that if I wait to reassign, I'll get a place that's even further than Pacific Apartments.
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  • psydentpsydent 303 replies4 threads Member
    Off topic, but I applaud both of you for one of the more civil conversations about race I've seen. I agree it's nice to see the (as you said) mixed families. Whatever floats your boat. Enter player 3, white guy. My first roommate was white and from California too. Peas in a pod? No. Worst roommate situation I've been in. Basically values separated us. Since then my roommates have been Non-Arab Middle Eastern (src: wikipedia), South-East Asian, and Indian. Minor differences of course, but similar values of respect, family, etc. We're good friends to this day.

    How does that relate to your situation? Even if he marked Prefers his own race, if you have similar values it'll work out. Maybe he's worried about other people judging him or what CPUscientist3000 suggests. Maybe he actually only wants to fraternize with his own kind. If that's the case, then it's likely he'll be out a lot at least.
    If you decide to not reassign: Talk to your RA about the concerns due to the preference you saw. Stay positive, tell them your concern and that you hope it's a good situation. If it does go sour then you'll have someone to talk to, possibly mediate, and can put a word in for reassignment if it's really bad.

    Something else to consider: You said you're indifferent now, but if you do reassignment now, do you have a higher chance of moving closer to campus or further from campus (if this factor is important to you).
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  • omgitsme1234omgitsme1234 68 replies13 threads Junior Member
    @redcap, are you an incoming freshman? I don't recall having the option to request someone of the same ethnicity as you.
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  • redcapredcap 69 replies8 threads Junior Member
    My current place is one of the furthest from campus so chances are, if I do decide to do a reassignment, I'll get at least a little bit closer.
    I'm a transfer student, but don't think it was a check box sort of thing. He just mentioned it in his profile.
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  • MaterSMaterS 1843 replies51 threads Senior Member
    Since you mentioned that this is an apartment rather than a dorm, do you think the preference may have to do with shared cooking facilities? Maybe he doesn't eat meat? Or perhaps he doesn't socialize with the opposite sex because of religious reasons?
    Contact the roommate if possible. It may be simpler than you think.
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  • USCxLinaUSCxLina 6 replies0 threads New Member
    Hi redcap,
    If I were in your position, I would keep the assignment. I was originally a Spring Admit for the Spring of 2013, then found out I was bumped to Fall 2012. So my housing app got sent in late. I ended up in Arts and Humanities and am a bit embarrassed to admit, but was a little anxious when I learned my roommate was from China. I know this sounds ridiculous, especially because genetically, I am Chinese! But I was adopted as a baby so I have grown up in the US, raised by my family who is white. I was a little nervous for the cultural differences, but it ended up working out really well!! My roommate preferred to hang out with other Chinese kids, like culturally Chinese, because it was easier/faster for them to speak in Mandarin with each other, they liked similar foods, and bonded over Chinese pop culture things. She was completely open to me, though, and to the rest of our suitemates, who were from all over.
    I wouldn't stress too much about it. Also remember that it's not required for roomies to become best friends, as long as there is at least mutual respect.
    I hope this helps!

    PS Jordan is such an amazing place!! :)
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