Talking Diversity

I live in the Bay area – it is the definition of diverse. But interestingly, I happen to live in a little pocket of a quaint little city in the East Bay that I would call “not so diverse”. But the manner in which it lacks diversity is interesting. If I had to guess the demographics at my boys’ elementary school, I would venture a guess that over 70% of the population is Asian and/or Indian. The Caucasians are, undoubtedly, the minority at our school.
Now, why would I bring up a strange topic like this? I recently found myself talking with a group of mommy friends over drinks and grub one night. A little context – we are a ragtag group of mommies who fell together through our kid’s friendships, or our own random, yet persistent bumping of heads as classroom moms, sports moms or just through neighborhood gallivantings. But here we are today; in a room, most of us moms of 2 or 3, trying to keep our heads afloat.

One of our Caucasian mommas decides to bring up how she is considering moving her children to another school in our district that is perceived to be more diverse. The rest of us, mixed color mommies, begin scratching our heads. We have all heard stories of other parents that have shifted their kiddos to other schools for similar reasons. But until now, one of shared experiences was that we were happy at our school – our kiddos were thriving academically, had wonderful friends, we had good relationships with teachers, and we had found one another, to form our village.
The following discussion that ensued, made me think back to other conversations I have heard – mostly grapevine rumblings. I had heard of some members of our school community leaving because they were unhappy with how they were being treated – not solely race-based. Maybe it was being the only English-speaker at a party, or not thanked enough for a volunteer job. And I start to ask questions… was your child unhappy too? Resoundingly, I hear NO – the children are fine. They don’t see the color of skin, the lack of adequate appreciations, the inability for mommas (or poppas!) to connect. They just see friends – kids they know and play with regardless of cultural, racial or societal boundaries the adults around them create. They connect without any trouble.

I know our social environment revolves around our kids, to a large degree, in this phase of life. I also know that any environment that is toxic, is one we should remove ourselves from. However, are these situations really toxic enough that we create upheaval in the lives of our young’uns? Doesn’t my 8-year old need more emotional stability in elementary school, or my Pre-K’er need comfort of friends and adults she has grown up with the last 4 years more than anything I could need? After all, I am an adult, and while a lot of my daily interactions occur with those school communities, I still have my childhood and college friends, work circles and other means of building relationships. But do my children?

I know we often chant varying versions of “Momma pride” and “Momma Empowerment”. Hell, I’m the first to join in the chant. But I am not lacking in these areas – I GET that in other places. My children’s school experience, for me, needs to revolve around them.

You all know, I am not a finger-pointer. I hate judgement and I abhor placing judgement. So I am not. All I am doing is defining what I think and inviting you to think about that. The discussion goes 360 degrees and always will. Bring the wine and let’s talk!