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. ;)