Friday, August 15, 2014

diversity or lack thereof

We were driving to the library yesterday and E asked, "Mommy, why are most people beige?" 

Kick to the stomach, right?

I said something about people being all different colors, some are beige, some are brown, some are dark brown, some are vanilla, some are chocolate, some are caramel.

"But I don't see very many brown people."  Fail.

We live in a place that is 46% Hispanic, 43% white, but only 1.2% black.  It's something we have struggled with.  This is where we grew up and it's where our families live.  We love being close to family and our kids love being close to family.  But 1.2% is pretty bad.

I take comfort in the fact that our city is mostly Hispanic.  I read an article a while back.  The writer interviewed black middle school students about fitting in with different races and who they hang out with.  One girl said that there aren't really any black kids at her school, but there are a lot of Hispanic kids so she doesn't feel like the only one.  Basically she said that she felt more like she fit in because there were other kids with brown skin, even if they weren't African-American.  I hope my kids can feel the same way.

We're white people raising black kids.  We don't want them to feel isolated or different.  We want them to feel safe, loved, like they belong, like they fit in.  We want them to feel confident in who they are and what they look like. 

I don't totally know how to do all of that.  Truth be told, I pretty much don't know.  I have some ideas, I've done some research, I've mulled it over quite a bit.  But I still don't really know.

I don't know what's most important in where we raise our kids.  Essentially this is a struggle for all parents, isn't it?  Where do we raise our family and what is most important to us in that decision? 

I don't want my son thinking there aren't very many brown people in the world. 

A friend of mine, who is black and decided to raise her kids here, told me that she feels it's okay to live in a place without a lot of black people as long as there is a city with black people somewhere close and you can go to that city sometimes.  For us, there is a big city about 45 minutes away that is pretty diverse. 

Is that enough?  I don't know.

Sometimes those conversations pop up with my son and it just stings.  I don't want him to feel the way he does.  I don't want to fail him in that way.

What are your thoughts?  Do you live in a place where you and/or your children are minorities?  How do you help your kids in that?  Or do you purposefully live in a place that is diverse? 

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