Monday, February 19, 2007

taking stock of the diversity in my town

After listening to the latest episode of Addicted to Race, I decided to take stock of the racial diversity of the city where I live.

Over the years, I've heard lots of white people make comments that Portland is too white. I've always scowled at this, thinking that these people are just too blind to the diversity we do have here. I didn't believe these people. Maybe because for several years I lived in a neighborhood populated largely by African-Americans and Latinos, but now seriously gentrified. Perhaps I didn't believe these people because for the great majority of my time in Portland I've worked at a non-profit agency which serves refugees and immigrants and boasts a very ethnically and racially diverse staff.

Well, now after reading some demographical data, I have to concede. Those people were right. Portland is considered the whitest major city in America with 75% of residents being caucasian. Compare that with New York City, the home city of the host of Addicted to Race, in which whites are a minority at 44%. New York state, however, has a white population of about 74%. Oregon as a state has a white population of 90%, compared to the U.S. average of 80%.

Despite all this, I still think that I am right to say that my city, with a population of people of color hovering around 20% and every eighth resident being an immigrant, there is lots of diversity to appreciate here.

One of my white son's two best friends is a child of mixed heritage (Asian-American and white). So, there is no way he'll grow up racist. Just kidding. There is a lot more to anti-racist parenting than exposing my child to racially and ethnically diverse people. Still, the above-mentioned podcast episode made me take a closer look at the environment in which I'm bringing up my child. More to come on this topic.

- Tereza Topferova

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Hi Tereza, I'm so glad you had a chance to listen to the latest episode of Addicted to Race! It's great that the show made you think about the diversity of your community. Keep up the work on this blog, by the way. :)