I’ve reached the same conclusion based on my work in the transracial adoption community. If you follow this blog, you know that I have been trying to get adoptive parents and social workers to wake up to the realities of living in a racially charged and still divided society for three decades—THIRTY YEARS, people. That’s a long time to be waiting for folks in positions of power and authority to finally “get it.” In the meantime, well-meaning parents can still waltz into their local adoption agency, pick out a darling brown child to take home to Whitesville, and never have to take responsibility for working through their own racism. Because in our society parents think they own their children, white APs are not required to consider what it might feel like, from the child’s perspective, to live –without a break—as the token brown person at every social event year after year. White APs never have to question, as transracial adoptees must, when the next time will suddenly pop up and someone says or does something offensive or racist. It seems as if kids who grow up under such oppressive conditions of racial isolation are expected to endure those hostile environments until they are old enough to move out on their own. Only then may they get themselves connected to a friendlier, less hostile, and more understanding community, not until they become adults. It’s too bad we accept this as normal, responsible parenting for transracially adopted children. I’ve even heard parents justify their abdication of responsibility, saying, “Hey, a little teasing makes them stronger. And they’re lucky they even got adopted, don’t forget.”
And consider this from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's report on transracial adoption, Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption: when asked about experiences/services that would have been helpful in forming positive racial/ethnic identities, 70% of Korean adoptees said living in a racially diverse community and 73% said attending racially diverse schools (p. 44).
But oftentimes adoptive parents will say they can't live in more racially diverse communities because they want good schools and low crime, they want to live in "good neighborhoods" that will maximize opportunities for their kids (read the comments to this post from the Rumor Queen). This article (p. 8, Separate is Never Equal) in my alumni magazine offers a perspective on this issue of "good neighborhoods:
It's no surprise that people try to get the best houses in the best neighborhoods they can find. How does it end up they live so segregated by race?I'm not doing this as a finger-pointing post -- according to the 2000 census, my zip code is predominately white (though the private school I send my kids to is 30% non-white) (click on this link, and enter your zip code in the geography block to find out the demographics of your neighborhood).
That's the question that Michael Emerson asked, and he said he hears two common answers. The first, "It's not race, it's class."
"In fact, that's not the answer," said Emerson, the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and co-director of the university's new Kinder Institute for Urban Research. "There is a range of incomes within any racial group, and when we look at where people live by income level, they're still segregated by race. Segregation by race is substantially greater than segregation by income."
The second answer -- "People like to live with people like themselves" -- is somewhat more accurate, he said, but it's still not the complete answer. "In current times, many people want not to live with certain people -- people they think will drive down their property values, raise crime and lower the quality of local education. They use race to decide these other factors."
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A 'factorial experiment' . . . [showed] sensitivity among all groups to high crime rates and low-quality schools. . . . "But for whites," Emerson, "you get a different story. They are highly sensitive to percent black and percent Hispanic. Even if you take a neighborhood that has low crime, high-quality schools and rising property values, and you say it's 30 percent black, in almost every single case, the white respondent will say, 'Not likely to buy the house.'"
So what do you think of Dr. Emerson's research on race as a proxy for "crime," "school quality," and "housing values?"