Raising Our Kids in a Predominately White Neighborhood

BY: - 11 Jul '13 | Parenting

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I live in what I affectionately call “the boonies.”  We live about 45 minutes outside of Baltimore City. It’s a nice neighborhood.  The prices of homes are very reasonable when compared to other counties in Maryland.  The neighborhood is incredibly safe.  The public school system is great. And, from my experience, the people in town are pretty nice.  There is just one thing.  There are not many brown folks around.

Now, I am not uncomfortable around white people.  Not by any stretch of the imagination. To be quite frank, I really don’t care about skin color when it comes to establishing friendships.  A good person is a good person, and a jerk is just a jerk – no matter what color their skin is. But, I do wonder about my kids sometimes.  I wonder, as they get older, what it will be like for them to attend schools where very few kids look like them.

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and my husband is from Queens, so we spent our childhoods around kids that looked just like us.  Looking back, I know that being around other black kids made a difference in my self-esteem.  I never worried about my skin tone or my hair. Most of my thoughts about white kids were actually connected to socioeconomic status.  Based on what I saw on television, I thought all white kids lived in houses and wondered why we were stuck in an apartment building (oh, the mind of a kid).

But, when my kids go to school, things will be different for them.  I wonder how my son will deal with the challenges that come with being one of few (if not the only) black kid in his classes.  I pray that my daughter will grow to love her natural hair and never desire hair that is longer, straighter, or softer than her own.  I hope that my kids can befriend children of other races, standing strong in the belief that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them because they have brown skin.

When children are young they don’t see color.  I am watching it play out now with my 3-year-old son.  For him, race is not an issue.  He just loves to play with his friends.  But I know that one day race will become an issue, and unfortunately it’s something that society will impose on him and his sister.  And even if we decide to send them to a private school that is a bit more diverse, the reality is that the school will still be predominately white.  How will we teach them to manage it all?

I hope that my husband and I are granted the wisdom we need to simply raise children who are  kind and respectful.  We don’t want them to be colorblind.  Rather, we want them to be very aware of who they are, the history of their people, and the beauty of living in a world where everyone is different – just the way God intended.  We want our kids to know that they should never make apologies to anyone for who they are.  Embrace yourself, hold your head high, and never forget that what makes you different also makes you who you are – and there is no better way to be. That is what I want my kids to know.

BMWK Family, what are your concerns about raising proud black children in the face of a lack of diversity?     

About the author

Martine Foreman

http://www.candidbelle.com

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Martine Foreman is a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger. To get tips for living your best life and also follow her crazy journey as a busy mom, wife, entrepreneur and honest chick from Brooklyn (now living in the burbs), check out her personal blog, CandidBelle. Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and crazy cat Pepper.

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4 WordPress comments on “Raising Our Kids in a Predominately White Neighborhood

  1. Anonymous

    Our neighborhood is relatively white although changing. The school my children (8 & 6)attend are predominatly white as well. I have had similar concerns as the author. For us, however, forutnatley because we live in NY we find great options. I try to find parks that are mixed. They are enrolled in an amazing african centered program (Ifetayo.org) and we constantly tell them how beautiful they are and what makes them beautiful. From the hair to the skin color and everything in between. Unlike the author and some of the commentors, my children noticed color very early on and we have always had very open age-appropriate discussion about skin color. They have grown up with posters and books and positive blacks all over the house so that it has become second nature to them. Whatever their interst, I always ensure that I find blacks who are in that area without making it obvious to them. As they are now getting older and being more exposed to television, we have started having different types of discussion. For example, younger daughter refused to put a hoodie on, because she thought it would make her look suspicious :-(. How have we addressed that, in an age approprite way, we are talking about slavery, about blacks in america and why some of the things that are happening are. I am not sure how the future and their enviornment will influence them as they grow, but as of now, these girls are very self aware, confident about who they are and why they are proud to be who they are, and totally comfortable with children and adults of all races. My job is to continue to have open discussions and bridge the gap between the lack of diversity in their neighborhool/school while nurturing that self pride and finding ways to help them understand the real world we are living in.

    One of our daughters is a peach and the other chocolate brown (their description)complexion. For now, the bigger challenge I have had is morso among my own race, where they are always picking out the lighter one and speaking about how beautiful she is and that she will be a model, while my younger equally as beautiful daughter gets overlooked. As they grow, this is the one area that is becoming more obvious to them, and I am struggling to work on those dynamics to ensure they aren’t both negatively impacted by this.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I am a white (Spanish & scottish decent), fair skin women with two multiracial children. My husband is Jamaican. I live in the same town I grew up in, my children go to the same school I attended. Growing up my family was only the second Latino family in the neighborhood, the school actually looked down at my family. My parents had to hire the best lawyers and fight to have my sister moved out of special education. Because of my parents the school was forced to test the rest of the children in special education , the majority being minorities who were removed when tested. The school my children attend is probably 95% white. I have taught my children to be proud of who they are, I have put them in clubs outside of the school to be with children just like them. The thing is my neighborhood I grew up in was black. I did not see color, I ate at their homes and ran away to their house and the same with them. They neighborhood changed over time and now is mostly white. The culture is not there with my children, the soul runs through my veins, I listen to my children and it depresses me. I thought I taught them better. I had a talk with my daughter and her white cousin today and they said they are afraid of the black kids in school, that the are loud and aggressive. I gave them examples of the white children killing other kids in the school, and other examples of white trash, I don’t think I got through, that it is the individual not the group. I am a nurse and I do not see color, I see the heart, the mean or nasty or the nice and loving, If I had a chance to do it again, it would be an all black neighborhood. I have the same friends from the old neighborhood. We are family

      Reply
  2. Shela

    I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood and attended predominately white schools (until being bused). I have to say that I did not have a lot of problems with my “white” friends. Or growing up in that neighborhood, my parents were very strong in their identity and passed that on to me. I never felt uncomfortable with or in myself. In reality, I believed it allowed me to see the world quite differently from others;because,it exposed me to various cultures (I had a very close Irish friend,and later Vietnamese families moved in next door). I also learned how to appreciate these cultures as well as my own…good, bad, and indifferent. I hung out primarily with the black children in my neighborhood;but, I did have many white friends and visited their homes quite frequently. As matter of fact, some of us still keep in contact. Most of my issues occurred when I was bused on the other side of town (read black) and interacting with my family members who criticized my speech and “white” thinking (I don’t know what that means).

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Yes…this is the issue I’m dealing with, with our daughter. She goes to a diverse school. She was bullied by a group of black girls when she began and now gravitates and seems more comfortable with whites there. The black girls tease her about the way she talks and her interests. She likes anime. They have said it’s “white”. Really font know what to do.

      Reply

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