Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dr. Lo on ARP: Raising children in a town without ethnic diversity

So normally I'd just wait and have Dr. Lo Siento crosspost his latest piece from Anti-Racist Parent himself. But he's in freakin' Hawaii at a medical conference (one last hurrah for him and his wife before little Maximus arrives)--my wife was covering for him yesterday, and he calls her at the clinic, ostensibly to check on his patients, but really 'cause he was bored. In Hawaii! Dude, whatever... Anyway, his latest piece went up on ARP this morning, and already there are some, uh, interesting responses. So I'm reposting it here, and also encouraging y'all to go over and comment over there (but comment here too!).

My wife and I currently live in Central California which is different for us since it has that small town sort of feel. The majority of the population is Caucasian and Latino. Overall, there is a large conservative population here.

As a future parent, Jenny and I thought about whether we could raise a child in this area. It is completely different from what we are used to, being that I am from Orange County and my wife is from Chicago where there is significantly more ethnic diversity.

Unfortunately, we have had a few experiences here where we felt like we were being treated differently because of our ethnicity. There have been times when we were in restaurants where we were the only non-Caucasians(very weird feeling) and felt that service was poor toward us more than the other customers. My wife was blown away the first time it happened since she had never felt that way before growing up in Chicago. It’s hard now because anytime we are waiting longer at a restaurant for service, my wife feels paranoid that it is because we are Asian.

She has often raised the issue that are we taken advantage of because people know that we won’t cause a commotion or we won’t complain if they make us wait longer than someone else. Is it because Asian-Americans are stereotyped as being submissive and docile? It’s hard to say, but I don’t want my child to become paranoid that he is being treated differently because of his ethnicity. It is so hard to think about how we can protect our child from all the racism and prejudice in the world.

Does it make a difference to live in a city where there is more ethnic diversity? This is a challenging question that we deal with when thinking about raising our soon to be born baby. I can say that we have decided to move back to Orange County in a few months for this as well as other reasons. More importantly, I hope that at home we teach our child appreciation and respect for all cultures and that he should take a stand against discrimination whether it’s directed towards him or someone else.


Henri said...

I think people are ignoring the more salient and downright alarming aspect of DeeLo's post. We should not stand idly by as he subjects his future child to the horrors of Orange County.

daddy in a strange land said...

Absolutely awesome comments being left over on ARP by a bunch of you! (But you know, you can comment here too!) :)

daddy in a strange land said...

Henri, dude, I keep telling him, but he won't listen to me. "Haven't you seen 'The O.C.'? 'Laguna Beach'? 'Real Housewives of Orange County'? 'Better Luck Tomorrow'?!!" But alas, you can take the boy out of Anaheim, but you can't take the Anaheim out of the boy.

("DeeLo." Heh.)

Henri said...

Life behind the Orange Curtain. What will you trade for comfort and security? Your soul?

Think about it.

Oh yeah, TV shows about the OC are hilarious. Calling OC the Jersey of the West Coast insults New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

This truly hits home for me. Despite how vehemently fellow-TwinCitians deny this, Minnesota is far from being diverse. I need to get LN out of here before it's too late...

Jae Ran said...

Awww MN - you can't do that to me. Then who will I bitch and complain to? :-)

Anonymous said... guys don't buy into "Minnesota nice"? I rolled out of there in Pittsburgh, PA. Wait a second, was that an improvement?

Unknown said...

I'm not a regular commenter here, so excuse the intrusion. But:

I think it is a huge deal to try to raise kids in a non-diverse area. So many Asian people I met in college who came from non-diverse areas had a difficult time with identity. I went to UC Davis, which is near Sacramento, a city billed as the most diverse city in the US, so it could be a bit of an eye opener for some. Though I am in no way saying Sacramento is a good place to live. It may be diverse, but I found it very segregated and too close to places that weren't so accepting of diversity. Once had a guy look my now-husband and I over very menacingly north of Sac. We're an interracial couple and I vowed never to stop there again for fear of my life.

But the advantages to raising kids in the a diverse environment are huge. Easier to raise anti-racist children, won't feel as isolated, form better identity (a more whole identity if that makes any sense), and depending on where you live, more community support. In the Bay Area, I can find daycare that will teach my toddler any number of languages if I wanted. Pre-schools that will teach my toddler any language and won't make fun of her for not being a native speaker.

Of course, for any hapa families, this can be a double edged sword and some places/people can be judgemental about the fact your kid is not full blooded whatever. Being Japanese and Chinese (where there is no love lose between the two), I experienced a little of that. But, overall the good outweighs the bad.

daddy in a strange land said...

Gayle, thank you for delurking to comment here--new voices are always welcome, and you are not intruding at all, so no need to apologize.

Dr. Lo Siento and I live in the same town--Bakersfield--and we feel the same tension. I'm hapa Japanese/Jewish and my wife is Filipina--is this really where we want to raise our daughter? (Plus we're pretty left politically, which makes us even more the minority here.) It's something we talk about a lot.

Anyway, thanks for commenting, and I hope I see your name a lot more! (Enter our book review contest too!)

OKDad said...

I'm Asian, married to the whitest woman in America, and we are raising our two happa girls here in a small town in Oklahoma.

Moved here from suburbia LA.

Priorities for my girls childhoods were safe environment, high educational standards, public schools with budgets for arts and music.

Ethnic identity and pride of heritage are up to me to instill in them....hope I'm up to the challenge.

So far, so good.

thisislarry said...

Ack. If I had to choose between being the only asians on the block, versus being in the parts of the OC where you're judged by which part of asia you're from, I dont know which would be worse!

What is it about people that just make us want to include and exclude?

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are raising our mixed daughter in a diverse area on purpose. How do I put this....if you are drunk, wearing a ton of gold chains and your rolex watch, you know not to walk into a dark alley in South Central LA. Samething, as sad as it is, there are places in America that are still not welcoming to anybody that is not blue eyed and white skinned. We just chose not to visit those places, let along raising our child in one.

great post, keep it up!

Jeremy C.

Henri said...

Dear OkDad,

You've got a strength that few people will ever understand or appreciate.

Or you're a madman. It's one of the two.

OKDad said...

Henri...well, let's put it this way.

After we moved here, I told me wife, that for the rest of her life, she will never...ever, ever, have to ask me if I truly love her, for the rest of our years together.

Fear and loathing in Oklahoma, huh. I guess I'm heading out to strap on the feedbag for some corndogsAndRootbeer...