Join Date: Feb 2007
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Mom to Jackson, b. January 2006
and Cassandra, b. October 2011
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!