I’ll give you twenty questions — hell, I’ll give you a hundred — but I bet you’ll never guess what locality in the U.S. is the most diverse according to census data.
OK, some clues: It’s not in California, and it’s not one of the major deep-blue urban hubs such as New York City or Chicago. Here are some other even more helpful clues from CNN:
The shelves at the Red Apple Market are a giveaway. Dried squid. Sambal Olek chili paste. Corned Australian mutton. Canned grass jelly.
Another clue: Ride the crowded No. 45 bus, which meanders down Mountain View Drive, and you hear chatter in seven languages — none, English.
Give up? The answer is Mountain View, a neighborhood in Anchorage, which of course is in Alaska — which of course is Palin country.
That’s Sarah Palin, much maligned and parodied in 2008 after her interview with Katie Couric that ended with the observation that “Alaska is like a microcosm of America.” And, while it is true that Alaska’s black and Latino populations are lower than the national average, Mountain View is nevertheless the most diverse community in all of America.
University of Alaska sociology professor Chad Farrell, who crunched the numbers, notes that the country’s second and third most diverse census tracts are also in Anchorage. Farrell’s methodology involved not only counting the number of ethnic and racial groups but studying their size relative to one another.
Farrell found that two things boosted Mountain View to the top. First, there is a sizable white population left. In many other places, neighborhoods that have increased in diversity have also seen white flight. Not so in Mountain View.
Mountain View also has a significant Alaska Native population, which other cities in America lack.
Alaska’s diversity has spiked in recent years for a host of reasons. Among them are its economy, which prospered when other states were reeling from recession, because it is driven by fishing and oil.
While liberals might be inclined to harrumph over Mountain View’s “sizable white population,” the fact that natives are able to live harmoniously with these white interlopers should be a source of hope and maybe even a model for other communities.