Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Worst (and best) U.S. metro areas for children--and trillwing feels white guilt

Courtesy of The Creativity Exchange:

Worst Metros for Children

White
Bakersfield, CA; El Paso, TX; Fresno, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; Mobile, AL; Modesto, CA; New York, NY; Riverside-San Bernardino, CA; Stockton-Lodi, CA.

Black
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY; Chicago, IL; Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH; Fresno, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Louisville, KY; Miami, FL; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Rochester, NY.

Asian
Bakersfield, CA; Fresno, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Jersey City, NJ; Los Angeles- Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; Modesto, CA; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA-NJ; Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA; Sacramento, CA; Stockton-Lodi, CA; Tacoma, WA.

Hispanic
Bakersfield, CA; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY; El Paso, TX; Fresno, CA; Hartford, CT; Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; New York, NY; Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA; Rochester, NY; Springfield, MA; Syracuse, NY.

I was raised in Long Beach, and Mr. Trillwing would like to move back there (I'm ambivalent). I just saw a really neat job posted in Stockton. Good thing Lucas isn't Asian, since we live just outside one of those cities designated as sucky for Asians.

So, you ask, where should we be living? More from the same site:

Best Metros for Children

White
Ann Arbor, MI; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MI-WI; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Newark, NJ; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV.

Black
Colorado Spring, CO; Denver, CO; Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Portland-Vancouver, OR-WA; Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC; San Antonio, TX; San Jose, CA; Tucson, AZ; Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa, CA;

Asian
Austin-San Marcos, TX; Baltimore, MD; Monmouth-Ocean, NJ; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Newark, NJ; Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV

Hispanic
Ann Arbor, MI; Cincinnati, OH; Colorado Springs, CO; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Jacksonville, FL; Monmouth-Ocean, NJ; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA; Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV.

I'm trying to imagine what it would like to be Black (hard enough for me to imagine just that) and living in Colorado Springs or Napa. Since Lucas is white (as am I--surprise!), I guess we should be focusing on those cities, but only SF and DC appeal to me. And guess who can't afford to live in SF, and whose family lives about 3,000 miles from DC?

On the other hand, my current fair city did recently make a best-places-to-visit list, and I'm guessing it's a damn good place to raise a white or Asian child. Not so sure about Hispanic or Black childrearing here--I sense a good deal of discomfort on the part of my Black and Latino friends. Which of course makes me uncomfortable. What's a mom to do, though? What a choice to have to make: Do we live in a place that's truly diverse (e.g., Long Beach or Sacramento, both of which have been designated at different times the most racially/ethnically diverse places on the planet) or that's good for my child's health, education, and well-being?

Certainly being raised in a diverse city contributed significantly to who I am today. But we all know educational resources are distributed inequitably by race and class, and I benefited from this privilege, landing in the best programs in my school district (which required me to attend five different schools instead of the usual three). Would Luke be so fortunate? Only if we were upper middle class and he were gifted. And he'd acquire the same damn reduced lung capacity of all the kids in Southern California (yours truly included--thank you, coke plants, Port of Long Beach, 405/605/710 freeways, LA Basin, inversion layer, and Reaganomics).

Of course, I'm setting up a bit of a false dichotomy between metros-suck-because-they're-unhealthy-and-distribute-resources-inequitably-but-
good-god-are-they-diverse-and-maybe-progressive and smaller-towns-are-great-but-good-god-are-they-ever-white-white-white. There are not-terribly-provincial places to live outside of metropolitan areas; I live in one. But our eventual decision about where to settle won't be based just on race and class--there's also family to consider. I want to be near my parents and extended family in Long Beach--a situation from which Lucas would benefit. But then Lucas would also suffer from the pollution, crowding, poor schools, etc.

Argh.

Also: If California is supposed to be such a great state, why are there so many sucky places to live in it?

6 comments:

Addy N. said...

As a white family, you might be happy in a small town- although if you've spent most of your time in larger places, you may miss access to GOOD ethnic food and cultural events. I have spent the last 7 years in SMALL rural college towns (with my black husband & biracial daughter) and we are trying to get out. My daughter is one of the few non-white kids in her school and we've already had some racial incidents (and she is in FIRST GRADE). Lucas may be exposed to kids with those attitudes (thanks to their ignorant, red-neck parents)- even in CA- god- when I lived in San Diego, all you had to do was go east to find red-necks there, too! I found it interesting that that report on metro areas was so "black & white" (no pun intended). Considering how many ethnically mixed families there are these days and that wasn't even mentioned in the listings. What about best metro areas for immigrant families? I think you are better off ignoring that report and living where you know you will have diversity and be near FAMILY! I think that is more important than anything else.

Cheers!

Seeking Solace said...

My city is listed under the worst places for Black children. Even though it is a somewhat large city, it is very segregated. There is a huge difference between the city and the suburb where I live.

I think much has to do with how much money is spent on those areas. In my suburban district, the schools are fantastic, usually among the top ranked. But, if you saw how much I pay in taxes, you would see why.

Anonymous said...

It isn't about where you leave but what YOU expose them to. I know people who live in cities and don't leave their own neighborhood. Pick the place that will offer your child the BEST education. You can't replace education. You as a parent are responsible for exposing your kids to the world. We live in Maine (white capital of the nation) and my son has two great friends - one is Asian another has Downs Syndrome. We travel... and when we travel we go to the open markets for lunch, instead of McDonalds. It is a parent's job to teach them and expose them to the extras that are important. You guys will do that... don't worry.

PortofLB said...

The Port of Long Beach has begun to aggressively deal with the health threat from diesel-related pollution, adopting a Green Port Policy that changes its business ethnic and makes environmental protection a priority. Also, the Port has adopted a Clean Air Action Plan to reduce overall port pollution by at least 45% within five years. Watch for more...

Amy Bentley-Smith said...

I'd look not only for a place that is best for whites, but also best for other races as well. Sounds like better harmony as a result. So San Jose or Denver (for whites and blacks), Washington DC for all but blacks (shocker! ha), or Nassau-Suffolk, NY for all! Hate to see you move so far away though! What are you looking already for new employment?

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