Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On a roll... raising a child of color in a cracker town.

I seem to be on a posting roll so I figure I better keep going...

Last December I began a new job as the Human Services Director for a large, multi-national, non profit located in Newark, NJ.  The mere mention of Newark for many makes them cringe with fright and fills their minds with visions of gang warfare and drive-bys.  Now mind you, these things do happen here, but not as often as you would think (well, not anymore anyway).  I just love it here.  I cannot think of a better place for me both professionally and personally.  I was joking with a friend yesterday because my poor husband is such a country boy but married a woman in love with the city.  Lucky for me he has a big heart and an open mind and we actually plan to move here (Lord willing) in the coming months.

As we have relayed this to family and friends many have aptly responded, "Why would you move to Newark??"  Good question.  And here's my answer.  Why not?  It is a city working towards improvement, the new mayor has been working hard to turn things around, and this place could use our money, time, and investment.  Another reason we like it?  The population is only 25% Caucasian.  As KJ grows I want him to see more and more people who resemble him.  We just can't get that where we are now.  I don't care that the schools are fantabulous and we can frolic in a river.  My son's (and probably future children's) cultural awareness and well-being is more important than that.  I can actually walk down the block from where I work and get "ethnic" hair care products without having to drive miles away. And it is actually a whole store.  Not just a fraction of an aisle at WalMart or CVS.  If you are not a person of color or don't have a child of color you wouldn't notice these things.  But they.do.matter.  Big time.

So regardless of what others think, say, or feel they cannot really know about our choices as a family because they are not us.  They have not walked in our shoes.  And each and every person I have talked with who is actually black has reiterated to me how important this will be for KJ as he grows.  A friend who happens to also be an African American woman and pastor said to me the other day when I told her how folks were giving us a hard time about moving, "don't they know he needs to grow up around people who look like him??"  Well... maybe they do now. ;)

6 comments:

Leah said...

Beautiful post! I think it will be wonderful for KJ to experience diversity. And wonderful for you and your husband. Diversity is always a wonderful thing. And how great that you can just walk down the block for some hair products. Wonderful. :-D

Karin said...

All I have to say is I don't want to hear anything about how bad, dirty, low-class and dangerous Philly is anymore. We are clearly better than Newark! ;)

Andi said...

Well at least Newark doesn't have a murder tally in it's local paper!

birthmothertalks said...

I think it's wonderful that you are willing to move to have your son being raised with around people who will look like him. But don't you think calling your town a cracker town is being a little racist?

Debbie B said...

I attended an event called Race Matters last year and we did a group activity where we put colored beads representing our life and those around us and where we go. Mine was fairly diverse but I have a family that is married to hispanics so that helped me out a lot. But the lady next to me had a full thing of white beads with one black one for her future child. She was extremely embarrased but we tried reassuring her that this is just an example of things that she can work on before bringing a child home. Being willing to change and move for your child is huge. I wish more adoptive parents realized this. We're getting this from my family right now as well. We'll be moving somewhere this year and I have been looking at the diversity in some of the possible areas and they just don't understand.
Anyhow all that to say way to go mom and dad for taking that step. And I am so jealous that you can walk down the street and get hair stuff. I just found a place close to home I'm going to go check out, hopefully I'll be able to say that soon.

Josiah's Dad said...

Newark? All right! That much closer to Philly!! I'm always up for a play date!