New Hampshire would benefit from more diversity


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The country has been becoming more non-white for many years, but thus far not necessarily in the state of New Hampshire.

The Granite State is currently the third “whitest” state in the union, behind just Maine and Vermont. It is clear that New Hampshire would benefit by additional races and ethnic backgrounds, but first state civic and business leaders must determine why the current status exists and then work to actively alleviate any misconceptions.

Having lived in the state for over 14 years, and from visiting a myriad of times while growing up in nearby Massachusetts, I would venture to say that New Hampshire is NOT an inherently “racist” state.

Naturally, and unfortunately, there are persons with racist beliefs in every state, but New Hampshire does not have a clear racism problem, even though the population is quite homogenous.

Based on a web poll of over 13,000 respondents, the Granite State is not even in the “worst 50%” in terms of racism throughout the nation.
So if racism is not a key factor in African-Americans and/or Hispanics (and others) not electing to move to New Hampshire, what is their reason for staying away?

For one thing, New Hampshire does not have any large cities. In fact, the largest city in the state is Manchester, at roughly 111,000 residents. This is one of the smallest “largest cities in a state” in the entire country. If a larger percentage of non-whites happen to live in cities/urban areas, it would make sense that, in general, there would be less minorities living in New Hampshire.

The other factor is simple geography. Setting Alaska and Hawaii aside for geographic and logistical reasons, nearly all of the Top 12 non-white states are south of the Mason-Dixon line. Only four are not, and they are New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. New York has the largest city in the country, New Jersey is very densely populated and very close to two enormous cities, and Maryland and Delaware are essentially right at that North-South divide.

This geographic fact makes it very evident that, all other things being equal, it makes sense that New Hampshire would have a smaller minority population than the national average. There is nothing mysterious about that.

The leaders and proponents of the Granite State cannot change the weather, climate or geography. We cannot (easily or quickly) change the fact that we do not house a large urban area. But what we can do is project a sincere welcoming attitude towards minority groups in other states, and perhaps other countries as well. If the state combines that effort with focusing on the clear-cut advantages of living and doing business in New Hampshire, we can slowly attract more diverse families into calling our state their home.

Ken Lambert is a resident of Hampton.

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