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Does Diversity Make You Anxious? [AUDIO]

It’s no secret that diversity is on the rise in the United States, and a new Esquire-NBC News survey finds that a majority of Americans are very anxious about it.

Uriel Sinai, Getty Images

According to the study, there is a “new American center” and one-third of those people are concerned about how increasing diversity will affect the country’s future. Nearly one in five say diversity makes them very anxious, while 65 percent admit that diversity gives them no sense of hope in the future.

In the meantime, most people support laws that protect minorities in the workplace, but many believe these laws have gone too far.

In fact, 63 percent believe that in respecting the rights of minorities, we’ve limited the rights of a majority of Americans. If the so-called center were in power, 57 percent would favor ending affirmative action in hiring decisions and college admissions and 58 percent would want to end the requirement that all voters show photo-ID.

The survey also finds that 54 percent of the center is against citizenship for people who have come to the United States illegally.

“This is very disturbing. Surveys today at first blush make it look like we are not a racist society, because people aren’t endorsing blatantly racist sentiment, but what they are doing is showing people fearing diversity, they question things like affirmative action. So what people are doing is subtly conveying their racism even if they’re not blatantly using words like racist,” said Deborah Carr, professor of sociology at Rutgers University.

“People have the sense today that they shouldn’t make blatantly racist comments, but they think it’s fine say they fear affirmative action or that they need stricter immigration reform. So, what they’re doing is endorsing those policies that may be prohibitive against immigrants or persons of color and they’re opposed to policies that might benefit people who belong to these populations.”

At the same time, when asked which public figure they trust the most, 9 percent chose President Obama, while six percent picked Oprah Winfrey. Meanwhile, 64 percent say racial discrimination is waning and our laws should reflect the change. For the most part, the study suggests that for most people, class is more important than race when it comes to upward mobility.

“In places like New Jersey, we probably don’t see the same level of fear that we do see in other places because New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation and people do live side by side and get along pretty well,” said Carr.

“But, I do think part of this is being fueled by things like the Tea Party and having incendiary ads which question the President’s citizenship and raise issues that really get the public agitated. The fact of the matter is that many U.S. cities today are what we call minority majority. Blacks and Latinos make up more than 50 percent of many cities today. The United States is changing and anyone who is fearful of that is a little bit backwards. It think we have to be able to embrace all people in the country because this who our fellow country persons are and they will be for decades to come.”

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