Should You Stay or Should You Go?

For the majority of my childhood, my family lived in the rural backwoods of Rochester Washington. We always lived out way outside of town. I mean, we are talking it's a good 15 minute drive into the nearest grocery store, type of out of town. The kind of country where your nearest neighbor is a half mile or more down the road. While it had some perks like having 40 acres and pretty much free reign to do whatever you wanted. Allowing us to have a huge house and a farm. It also came with downfalls like lack diversity and overall social interaction. To add to that, we were home-schooled until high school so we really didn't get face time with anyone who wasn't also a white family farming in the back roads of Rochester. Not that there are many non-white people in Lewis county to begin with. It's pretty much the Donald Trump area of Washington, not the greatest place for pocs to be. Really wouldn't be surprised if there were a few lynching that happened there back in the day. You'll see many confederate flags in windows. There certainly were and still are hate crimes that happen there. I know this because we know the only other black people who lived there (also transracial adoptees), and my oldest brother was the one who had to break up the fight. We're now great friends with the family.

My point is, this really wasn't the best place to raise black kids. Part of me wonders if my parents knew this deep down and contributed to why they wanted to keep us home-schooled, never really asked, but eventually we did move from Rochester into Olympia. Which isn't much better but at least it's more diverse and has options. I also know that we couldn't afford to move for a long time, we moved out to Rochester right around my 8th birthday.

I get moving isn't an easy decision for anyone. If you have kids, it's even harder to uproot them and move to a whole new area. Maybe you can't move because of your job, school districts, money, there's a lot of reasons. But when you're a white parent raising children of color, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself "is this the best environment for a child of color" and determine if you need to move. Now like I said before, moving isn't always an option, but I think it helps to at least understand what elements you should be looking at while trying to make this decision. Speaking from my own personal experiences (or lack there of) I think it's more important to consider what you community has to offer more than the percentage of different races. 

It sounds a little crazy, but hear me out. I fully believe this. If your community is 99% white, my guess is there probably isn't much community support for pocs. If you go to a neighborhood that is 99% non white, there's more diversity in numbers, but the community programs and quality of life usually lowers as America doesn't want to invest anything into those neighborhoods. So again, quality over quantity. It's also important to keep in mind that for transracial adoptees, we don't really fit into pocs neighborhoods easily. Eventually we will, but we have to go through this weird hazing period of proving ourselves ___ enough to our own racial groups. We're too white for the brown people, and too brown for the white people. So sometimes, diving head first into diversity before learning how to navigate it, is counterproductive. Further to the point of community though, you should look at what type of support your neighborhood has for pocs, specifically those cultures related to whatever race your TRA (transracial adoptee) is. For example, if you child is black, is there a NAACP chapter in the surrounding area? Do the schools have diversity programs or student groups? Does the schools staff and student body reflect each other? Are there local shops or city programs that celebrate, educate and promote diversity? Is your local government diverse? As diverse as an american government could be anyways. Are there non-profits in the area dedicated to supporting pocs and cultural competency? For example, while Olympia is not even close to being diverse as far as percentage. It probably is one of the most laid back and community wide supportive city I've ever experienced. Yes, of course they are still ignorant and racist white people there, but for the most part, they are working to do better. The schools have some of the best diversity programs I've seen, from middle school all the way to college. I know this because I, personally have taught some classes at these schools and collaborated with student groups. There's A LOT of non-profits that exist to fight for and support POCs and LGTBQ people. As well as other great things. So while it may still be overwhelmingly white, the simple fact that I even had the options to get involved with as much as I have, says a lot. Compared to other places, such as Rochester, where non of that exists and you would be laughed at for even suggesting creating something like a black student conference. Even things like history museums and ethnic food restaurants, make a huge difference. So take those things into consideration as well.

The other thing to consider is if it's safe for POCs. 

I'm in a lot of transracial adoption Facebook groups and any time this topic is brought up, every WAP immediately jumps to "well i don't want to move to a dangerous place". Which always makes me side-eye WAP because you're equating diversity with danger? I actually had this conversation with my mother not too long ago. I was explain to her why I am uncomfortable going to Rochester (we still have the farm house out there). She also expressed the same sentiments other white parents had about feeling "unsafe" in non white neighborhoods. I asked her to explain why she was afraid of being in predominately non white neighborhoods, and she realized she couldn't explain it with anything other than "I just am" which is the same answer every white person gives. Meanwhile, I can list over 20 years of hand experiences I have had with racism in white neighborhoods, federal statistics, not to mention give you countless names of black people murdered via hate crimes. How about 300+ years of history to back it up. Yet, all you as white people have are stereotypes that hold zero reality, your fear is rooted in "brown people are scary". You're far more likely to be invited in for dinner by a brown person than killed.  This is the reason I specify asking yourself is it safe for pocs. If we're being honest, white people are safe pretty much every where. Even if you are attacked, at least police will actually protect you. For us, no one is on our side. Also, remember the fact that for pocs, especially black people like me, white neighborhoods ARE dangerous for us. So while you, a white person, may feel at home and jolly in your land of whiteness and no racism, we are being harassed and targeted all the time. I can't tell you how many adoptees I've talked to who have been harassed and even arrested for existing in white neighborhoods. In fact a black foster child was arrested and pepper sprayed in his own house, because a white neighbor saw him going in his own house and assumed he was breaking in. I, myself have been accused of breaking into my mother's house while I was house sitting for her, because the police offer just couldn't understand how a black person would be in a white family. My own mother has had to cuss out police officer for this exact reason as well. So you have to look at things from the view of pocs, and not just yourself. While it may be safe for you, it may not be safe for your child of color. You're going to have to find an equal balance. 

Basically, if shit went down, would you community come together to help or would they be the first ones to blame the victim and say they had it coming? Think about all of these things when you're deciding on where to move or if you need to make one. Some times the answer isn't so black and white.