Monday, September 22, 2008

It's a melting pot! No, it's a mosaic! No, it's a rainbow...

Poll: Whites, blacks in U.S. disagree about prejudice

Wow, shocking news. These folks truly have their finger on the pulse.

The highlight of the article for me is:

Kelly Edmondson, 34, of Cincinnati, is a white Democrat enthusiastic about backing Obama. …She cares for her two sets of young twins during the day and teaches college at night; most of her students are black. In the survey, Edmondson said positive words such as "hardworking" and "intelligent" describe most blacks "very well." She said a few negative traits, such as "lazy" and "irresponsible," apply "somewhat well" to most blacks.

In a telephone interview, Edmondson said those attributes apply equally to all races. [emphasis added]
Well, yes. Exactly. I wonder what percentages a different poll would come up with – a poll which asked people their opinions of what traits the general American public shares, particularly if it were one that instead focused on class. I would imagine that there would be a fair proportion of people of all races who would characterize low-income people as "lazy" and "irresponsible." (And I'm not saying that I agree with them, I'm just saying certain leading questions are going to get a pretty predictable response. And often I think that people who do not have much exposure to people of color form their opinions based on what they see in the media - wait, this is a tangent that could comprise a whole separate post, so let me get back on point.)

This ties in, somewhat, with what I've been experiencing in the past couple of months. In our most recent house search, we have pretty much given up on the areas in and around where we live, which is where we have been looking for the past several months. We’ve started looking in a middle- to upper-middle class predominantly African-American neighborhood, even though that would mean a longer commute for both of us, because (1) we’d be closer to certain family members and friends (including Viva’s friends) that we see a lot; (2) quite simply, you get more for your money over there; (3) it’s a nice neighborhood, quiet with lots of trees and close to a major park; and (4) with certain addresses, we can actually get Viva into a decent public school.

I am surprised by the number of people who have said, “Why do you want to move over THERE?” and yet seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to expect us to look into neighborhoods far east of us or deep in the San Fernando Valley, which not only are further away in terms of miles, but also have a very small percentage of African-American residents. I am not surprised, but disappointed, by people who ask me if I’ve considered areas I’ve never heard of and then when I ask, “But are there any black people there?” look crestfallen and say, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that. I guess not.”

The issue is that no one asks "Why do you want to move over THERE?”about any other neighborhood where we've been looking. Hmm...if it only happened once or twice, I wouldn't think anything of it. But most people seem to be surprised that we would consider moving to a mostly black area.

One of the things that attracts me to the neighborhoods where we have been looking up until now is that there is a diversity of people – black, white, Asian, Latino, South Asian, etc. These are mid-city neighborhoods, and since we both work in the mid-city area, it makes sense for us to look there. However, this has not been fruitful, so we had to expand our horizons. One of the things that is crucial for us is to get Viva into a fairly mixed school which will also give her a good education. Fortunately, there is one in the neighborhood we’re looking at that she would be eligible to go to that is pretty balanced between white and black, with both Latino and Asian thrown in for good measure, and it has decent test scores. Neither of us is crazy about sending her to a school that is predominantly anything – whether white, black, Latino, or Asian. That is a major issue for both of us, and one which we have discussed extensively.

On the housing search: we haven’t yet found a place. Yeah. We would like to move during the first weekend of October, since the baby will be here at the end of October and I can’t imagine moving after a C-section, with a newborn. Our landlord has already contacted us about moving some of his stuff into the storage area. He clearly needs to move ASAP, which isn’t helping matters. All I can say is that when we know, you’ll know. I can’t say anymore about it at this point because it just stresses me out. As my boss said, “You’re nesting! And you have nowhere to nest!”

Yeah, it’s like that. Major suckage.


Molly said...

I grew up in a very rural area in Northern NY. When I was in the sixth grade a black family moved in from NYC. Their Dad wanted to get them out of the inner city- talk about one extreme to the other. They were the only black people in the school, and one of very few in the entire county. It was great for us sheltered white folks. Eddie Moses was in my grade and was my boyfriend for a while, at the age when that just meant we wrote love notes back and forth and sometimes walked to class together- though he did kiss me once, very briefly, but I digress. He was a great basketball player, but mostly the other teams were intimidated because he was black and therefore MUST be a great basketball player, since their limited relatable experience with people of ANY other race was TV. When I lived in Atlanta as a young adult I had my first experience with being the only white girl on a train one day and it was, once I realized it, an eye-opening experience for me. It was a revelation one day when I realized that I know longer saw people in black, white, red or yellow. You know, I didn't instantly think, "There's a black girl." When we lived as a young family in Charlotte, NC, my kids were exposed to people of different races and no longer asked me why so and so is brown. (They still use that term, brown.) Now we live in very white rural Wisconsin and even I do a double take if I see an African-American. I miss having associations with people of other races, backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. What is my point in this lengthy comment? Nothing really, I guess, other than diversity is good. And to share what my experience has been. I especially liked your point that the full spectrum of personalities and tendencies lie in every race. You may enjoy my brother's blog. His girlfriend/fiance is black. They just had their first baby a few months ago, with both of them in their late thirties. In this post,, Derek relates a conversation he had with Sophia's nephew. Check it out.
Sorry I'm so long-winded today.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Aaaagh, I just typed a really long comment and submitted it and it got lost in the Great Black Hole of Lostness!

Just wanted to thank you for your comment and for the link to your brother's blog. Your nephew is adorable!

I've noticed that Viva identifies people by skin color but not by race - for example, she identifies herself as brown and me as pink and she refuses to use the term "African-American." (She thinks it's hilarious and ridiculous.) She is very interested to see whether our new baby will be brown or pink. I told her the baby might even be somewhere in between, like tan. She frowned and did not seem to like that answer! Very funny and kind of illustrative of that age. Yes, things are easier when they're black and white, rather than shades of gray!

bridget in oregon said...

Since my kids have accompanied me to dog shows (I show dalmatians) and have seen all the different colors, coats and sizes our 'best friends' come in, they verbally assumed that it was the same for people: all different colors, coats and sizes— with the same DNA.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

You know, bridget, your kids are not too far off the mark there. Why can't anyone else see it?