or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Multicultural Families › Intentionally creating a diverse community for you child
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Intentionally creating a diverse community for you child

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm Momily, single mama by choice to 9 year old T. Our family was created by adoption. T is African American and I am white.

I would say right now I'm pretty happy with the level of diversity in our lives -- DS is exposed to kids and adults of all different colors and religions. He knows families like our with just one mom, and families with 2 moms, 2 dads, one of each, parenting grandparents etc . . . He's also exposed to a lot of socio-economic diversity -- from very rich to very poor. Basically I feel like we're doing well on the diversity front.

However, we're also living in a tiny apartment that's becoming tinier every day as he enters his preteens and wants privacy and space. In addition, I have some reservations about his current school's middle school program and worry that it might not be a good fit for him.

For these reasons I've been considering a move to the suburbs. There are some neighborhoods that are close in enough that I could have a reasonable commute, and where we could afford a much bigger apartment or maybe even a tiny house. All of these neighborhoods seem very diverse, at least based on who I see driving around, and the statistics on the websites of the local schools.

However, I've also been invited to several social events in those neighborhoods, and I'm often amazed by the level of segregation. Last night we went to a party where DS was the only African American out of maybe 50 people. There was one Asian man, and his 2 biracial (Asian/white) children and otherwise every single person was white. When I talked to parents many of them seem to have made choices to take their kids out of the diverse public schools and put them in language immersion, or waldorf, or homeschool or another majority white option. Now, I'd love to homeschool, and if language immersion had been an option for us (it wasn't in our district) I would have applied too, but at the same time I feel like these choices just solidify the seggregation in the community.

I worry what it would be like for DS to grow up in a community where the adults seem to indicate that people should be separated like this. I know it's natural for kids to self-seggregate at certain ages (we haven't hit that stage yet), but I worry that if he sees the adults doing it to it will give him the message that that's the way it's supposed to be -- that somehow our family is "wrong".

I guess I don't have a specific question, but I want to hear other people's experiences. I'd love to hear how important it is to other people that their kids have a diverse community, and how you go about creating it, and also if you feel like you're working against trends in the community.
post #2 of 7
My son is just about to turn 3. He's black and white, DH & I are white. DS is adopted.
Our community is diverse. We're 1 of the 2 white couples on the block. We have European, Arab, Filipino, Peruvian, Black, Asian, and Indian neighbors.
The public schools here are a mess. Apparently, the district has given the go-ahead to create a charter school that is only for black students. (It started out as black males, but they were told they much include females as well.) I've only recently read about this, and there wasn't much info available. However, it seems that the focus of this charter school is to be remedial.
Great.
I'm struggling with what to do. Relocation isn't an option. We couldn't give our house away. The local homeschooling groups are almost all white, with some Asians as well. Furthermore, as DH & I both work (technically - he just lost his job and is looking) home schooling isn't the best option. His preschool is diverse, and he can go there for another year or so. After that, though, we're just not sure.
It really is difficult to know what's best. Are you familiar with the blog Anti-Racist Parent? They recently (November) had a column about the Obama children, and the author of the column explained her decision to put her kids in private school.
I don't know if this has helped any, but please know there are others in that boat.
post #3 of 7
I am a single Mom to a kiddo by adoption as well. I am "pink" and DS is "brown". (His words). We live in a very small town within an hour of three major cities. His school is a mixture of kiddos from CC to Hispanic and a few AA kiddos. We are doing private school because it is the most diverse option here. We are have been active in our adoption group-he sees kids from around the world and a variety of families. We try to point out families that look like ours (single parent, adoptive, trans racial). We have a variety of toys, books, dolls that represent a range of history and cultures. Still, I hope that we are doing enough. Some of DSs best friends were adopted from Haiti-but they like many of the families we know homeschool. In some ways I'd love this option, BUT as a single mama it's not likely to happen. I also think about adopting again so that DS would have a sib that looks like him-kwim?
Michele
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm so glad to see replies to my post!

For me, finding the diverse school is easy -- where I live there are diverse public, private, charter, etc . . . And when we did this the first 2 times (e.g. when we chose a daycare/preschool, and when we chose an elementary school) that was pretty much enough -- putting him in a diverse school pretty naturally led to a diverse community for him because I was often the one choosing who to invite over etc . . .

But now we're facing the fact that or current community is no longer working for us, for reasons that have nothing to do with diversity. We really need more living space, which means lower rents, and we'd both love more greenspace. I also think he'd do well with more academic rigor at school.

So, I can find another diverse school -- that part's easy. What I worry about is how to build those connections when he's no longer at an age where I can say "Oh, I met Jose's mom in carpool line, he's coming over next week."

I also worry about the fact that I see so much "self-segregation" within those communities. I see it with the kids, but that doesn't really bother me because I think it's developmentally appropriate. However, I also see it with the adults -- and that does worry me and sadden me. How do you over come that barrier of adult imposed self-segregation within diverse communities.
post #5 of 7
no answer really but just wanted to say that I relate when you say "working against the trend", except that for us it's about some part of our relatives ....

we are all of us white but I spent 3 years in a mainly white American suburb; the school was nice of course, there WERE children of other races together with mine who were a different nationality but for adults it seemed to me like a deserted island, quite frightening in fact ... (I horrified some neighbors there and aquaintances when I said I was taking the bus and TALKING with the people on the bus ....)

now back in France we choose a lower rent/a flat in a lower income area not far from the center of town; my British MIL nearly had a fit (I'm French but I believe in GB it's important to send the children to a school somewhere where people have a good accent etc ....)

Both my DH and I are happy to be within a mixed community, my daughter reflected the other day that she didn't think that in her class ANY kid was 100% French anyway, even if about a third are white (one 100% Portuguese, one 50% from Chile etc ....)

am quite relieved to see that you wrote that post in fact .... a lot of people don't talk about these choices and most of the time it looks like most people find it more comfortable psychologically to remain within their prefered boundaries ....

what can one do ? finding like minded people is usually quite hard in fact ....

gook luck in you search .... I live SO far away from you .... but reading you did me good ....
post #6 of 7
We also are transracial here. I am white; I have an adopted sibling set; the older brother is 12 and mixed (African American and Puerto Rican) and the little one is Puerto Rican.

We have lived in intentionally diverse communities for the most part. There was one year where we moved to the mountains and it was very white there which was a problem. We moved for that reason. My oldest decided he was "ugly" and said that the kids at school made fun of his hair but "they were just playing around." the teachers were not interested and claimed that they "didn't touch" race issues "except to celebrate MLK day." (??!!) it was a horrible situation and I actually homeschooled the next year and we moved to India for a time, where we found diversity but, um, more racism.

As an adoptive mom though I think though that for us there are two concerns: one is fostering diversity, the other is helping my kids to learn to be comfortable with and embrace the specific cultures that represent their communities of origin.

So we have always played at the parks in the parts of town where my kids are in the majority. This has not always been comfortable for them or me but at this point it is. We see barbers who are of their specific ethnic origins, eat from Puerto Rican restaurants, go on and off to a church with African American leadership and congregation, etc. We listen to Latin music, African American spirituals, and both traditional and latin influenced hip hop.

I don't know how one would make the suburbs work. It seems to me that sometimes (in my area) the suburban neighborhoods may well be diverse in terms of countries of origin of the residents, but similar economic circumstances and aspirations tend to make these neighborhoods more homogenous in terms of overall spirit. Same cars, clothes, hairstyles, toys, etc. NO fun, and possibly dangerous in terms of the pressures to cave to messages of white western hegemony.

At the same time if you need space, you need space. If rents are higher in the city than in the suburbs, where do the people without a lot of bank live? That would be where I would choose to go live. Maybe an area like this might be diverse AND cheaper?
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks Juniper

Quote:
Originally Posted by junipermoon View Post
We also are transracial here. I am white; I have an adopted sibling set; the older brother is 12 and mixed (African American and Puerto Rican) and the little one is Puerto Rican.

We have lived in intentionally diverse communities for the most part. There was one year where we moved to the mountains and it was very white there which was a problem. We moved for that reason. My oldest decided he was "ugly" and said that the kids at school made fun of his hair but "they were just playing around." the teachers were not interested and claimed that they "didn't touch" race issues "except to celebrate MLK day." (??!!) it was a horrible situation and I actually homeschooled the next year and we moved to India for a time, where we found diversity but, um, more racism.

As an adoptive mom though I think though that for us there are two concerns: one is fostering diversity, the other is helping my kids to learn to be comfortable with and embrace the specific cultures that represent their communities of origin.

I totally agree that there are 2 different issues here. The first is a concern I'd have with a child of any race -- I still wouldn't want them to grow up without having contact with all kinds of people. In addition, raising a child who is "culturally competent" in African American culture is very important to me. So far, I've felt pretty good about my ability to do that, but like I said, I'm worried about continuing to do so in a new community

So we have always played at the parks in the parts of town where my kids are in the majority. This has not always been comfortable for them or me but at this point it is. We see barbers who are of their specific ethnic origins, eat from Puerto Rican restaurants, go on and off to a church with African American leadership and congregation, etc. We listen to Latin music, African American spirituals, and both traditional and latin influenced hip hop.

Yep, we do all that too, except for church. We're also in an open adoption, so he gets to spend time with extended family who shares his heritage, he plays on some majority black sports teams, and spends time with some of my close friends and colleagues who are African American. Many of those connections will continue if/when we move -- we'll be moving a few miles so we can keep the same barber, sports teams etc . . . .

I don't know how one would make the suburbs work. It seems to me that sometimes (in my area) the suburban neighborhoods may well be diverse in terms of countries of origin of the residents, but similar economic circumstances and aspirations tend to make these neighborhoods more homogenous in terms of overall spirit. Same cars, clothes, hairstyles, toys, etc. NO fun, and possibly dangerous in terms of the pressures to cave to messages of white western hegemony.

We do have suburbs like that, without a doubt, both suburbs that are very homogenous white, and homogenous African American. I am not really considering them as options. The community I'm looking at is actually not that disimilar to where I live now -- a mixture of races, languages, cultures, socio-economic status etc . . . but a little more affordable. I think if I had started out there it would be have been equally easy/challenging to build connections as where I live now, the difference is that when we started out here (we moved into this area when he was 22 months old) I was the one who got to choose his friends, his activities, what playground we went to etc . . . With this move he'll be the one choosing to a much greater degree -- I just can't see myself hanging around the door of the middle school introducing myself to moms of color and inviting their kids to play, I'm pretty sure he'd never live down the embarrassment.

At the same time if you need space, you need space. If rents are higher in the city than in the suburbs, where do the people without a lot of bank live? That would be where I would choose to go live. Maybe an area like this might be diverse AND cheaper?

Where do people without a lot of bank live? Some of them live in the city in lower income neighborhoods. At the risk of being snobby, I'll come out and say that I want more amenities and less crime than exist in those communities. I also want more diversity -- many of those communities are exclusively AA, which still isn't exactly what I want. Some of them live in neighborhoods like the one DS goes to school in -- with a mixture of low income housing, and single family homes. However, the apartments are small and cramped, and the houses are outside my price range. Many families live in the suburbs, in neighborhoods that are diverse, and have more amenities, which are the communties I'd like to select. They have more "in the middle" options -- garden apartments, townhouses etc . . . for people like me. The problem I see with all of these options (except for the lowest income communties I mentioned in the beginning) is that while they're diverse in that people of different races and cultures are living side by side, there's a lot of self-segregation, which is what I worry about overcoming.

Thanks! You've given me a lot to think about!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Multicultural Families
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Multicultural Families › Intentionally creating a diverse community for you child