New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the country, but according to a poll out today from Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University, many say they don’t experience diversity in their own neighborhoods — in social class, race or ethnicity. At the same time, a significant majority (59%) say it is important for people of different races and ethnic groups to mix in communities, school and the workplace. Forty percent say that’s not important, so long as everyone is treated fairly and is given the same opportunities. This marks a big shift from when the Rutgers-Eagleton poll put the same question in 1999 and 2004; views then were evenly split on the issue.
“New Jersey is a true melting pot, and the solid support we see for racial and ethnic diversity goes hand in hand with the personal experiences many have with this kind of variety in their daily lives,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of government at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll. “And even for those who report living in neighborhoods that are less diverse, their support for diversity in everyday life is similarly strong.”
The answer to another question makes clear, though, that diversity does not necessarily lead to racial and ethnic harmony. A sizeable percentage of New Jerseyans think there is “a lot” (8%) or “some” (29%) racial and ethnic tension among residents in their community.