Showing Love For Your Community

One of the looming questions for us in raising our cute beige baby is “how should we define the community he is part of?” I know there is going to be that weird moment when he asks about the very stark difference between black culture and white culture. I am quite aware that neither of these are monolithic, but I have never seen a place where the two are the same.

This question, how do you support the community?, is challenging even for otherwise very astute and inclusive people like Mikki Kendall and Skippington. Recently they both have said that anyone who is married to a white person is of questionable value to black communities. I think that is bullshit.

Mikki Kendall, the woman who started #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and Skippington had an extended thread about the value (or lack) of interracial families for the community of the members. In the middle of their attack on feminism for disenfranchising women of color they broke down into a discussion of whether an interracial child is “Black enough” to be part of the community–that hurts my soul.


One of the things that Rose and I discussed when we set out to find our new home was finding somewhere that Rockford would grow up with access to black communities. In part I want this because I feel like I missed that opportunity when I was a kid.

Ultimately, I want to pass on to Rock that you should know your neighbors. You should look people in the eye and greet them. Even though he will likely want to escape the neighborhood that Rose and I choose, I want him know that his life will be happier if knows his neighbors.

3 thoughts on “Showing Love For Your Community”

  1. This past year the theme of our church was “who is my neighbor” . Of course that is a logical question of the “Good Samaritan” story. Because of a grant from the Gate’s Foundation we looked very closely at the homeless community in our own neighborhood. Although I consider myself reasonably educated and aware of what goes on I discovered I knew very little about many of my neighbors. One of the results is that I am now a mentor at a Tacoma grade school and spend time each week with a couple of “beige” 10 year olds. I do have some experience with this but I am learning much more

  2. Neighbors were one those things that was weird for me when we from Fairport, NY to Gig Harbor, WA.

    In both Las Vegas and Fairport it seemed like I knew a lot of neighbor kids. It may have just been that there were more kids in those places. In Washington (and a bit in Oregon) it felt like pulling teeth every time I smiled and waved to my neighbors. But, in the big picture I know that there was at least one college party that we avoided problems by already knowing our neighbors well enough that they came to talk to us, instead of calling the police, and on several occasions I have had neighbors look out for strange things happening at my house.

    I really think that even when you are renting you should show pride in participation and hospitality to your neighbors.

  3. Neighbors are important. One of our neighbors is now a widow and Birger puts out her recycle bin every Monday. Part of my incentive for having a beautiful front yard is to delight the neighbors who walk or drive by. In fact, we chose this house partly because we wanted to live in a more urban neighborhood.

    The neighborhood where we lived when you were still home was more rural. Steve & Julie are among our closest friends and you and Matt were almost daily buddies for several years, but there wasn’t the neighborhood gang of kids like you were used to.

    I was part of a black extended family in Chicago and part of the black community in Gary, Indiana, but as a white person one must either work or live in the community to be part of it. And becoming part of any community takes time and commitment. Frankly, I much preferred the black community, even tho I know that, because I’m white, I was somewhat controversial. There was a lot more warmth, fun and mutual care. I missed all that when I moved West.

    The black parent is the one with ready access to the black community. Making a choice as to which community to live in is unavoidable. The glorious thing is that people today, unlike earlier generations, have choices.

    But identity is still meaningful and important, because there are still many elements of racism that need to be addressed by all of us.

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