Question: Why do white people seemingly prefer not to live by black and brown people?
Is it white flight? Or are people of color bad neighbors?
The first reason is identity theory. Oil and water don’t mix. You have to intentionally shake it to mix it up. If you think about the way our systems have been set up in this country, especially housing, housing segregation, and all the laws put into place since the beginning of our nation’s time, we have never created space for diverse neighborhoods to exist. We have created a world where our identity is based on the world around us and we have been taught to trust people who are like us.
While we can’t actually speak to whether or not white people think people of color are bad neighbors. But, we can tell you that those who are aware of this segregation, who want to work to change it, purposely put themselves into neighborhoods that are as diverse.
If you want to change the status quo, start thinking about how you can put yourself in more diverse situations. How can you bring more diversity to your community?
There are places in the country, even within every city, that are extremely segregated. So, we have to ask ourselves:
How do we intentionally put ourselves in places and be aware of that context as we’re thinking about how we want our families to grow up, what kinds of people we want to expose them to, and how we want to prepare them to go into this broad, diverse world?
If you think back to the ’60s and the civil rights movement, white people were encouraged to sell their homes and move somewhere else. It’s systemic.
These things were perpetuated and before you knew it, this was the way things were. And then we started blending families. Different races mixing. Now, the way we think about when we move and where we move is totally different than it was before. Because you want your mixed children to be around people who are going to accept them, who are going to look like them, who are going to represent their mixed heritage too.
In that sense, we’re totally shifting the dynamic. We are creating a new normal. But there are a lot of places where we still want to stay where we are, keep things the same. And that’s how similarity, bias, and feeling comfortable being around the people that look like us continues to be present in many communities.
Everything is around race. No matter where you go, no matter where you look, somehow, someway it’s connected to race. We have to start asking ourselves: WHY?
Get curious and start asking the questions, dig into why the world around you has been set up the way that it has. Part of this work is when you don’t know the answer, getting curious and digging into it.
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