In response to my post about how to choose where to live, Ayann wrote a comment saying that race is a factor as well. She’s right. And the truth is that my husband and I talked about race constantly during our decision making process because he is Latino and, therefore, so are my kids.
My husband has spent his life living in Los Angeles and New York City. I had to push very hard for him to move to Madison, Wisc., where the Latino population is less than 5%. My husband’s hesitancy to move to an all-white neighborhood is understandable. His family is almost all first-generation immigrants, and the discrimination I have seen them face is incredible. I would have never believed how ubiquitous it was until I had seen it myself.
I have written about how research shows that my children will face discrimination in the workplace because of their Latino last name. But I want to believe that they’ll be fine in Madison — that somehow goodness will prevail and people will not discriminate.
City ranker Richard Florida has a race index, sort of. He counts the gay population as a guideline for tolerance for new ideas and diversity of ideas. Madison did not score incredibly well on this index. Madison is no San Francisco, to be sure. But it’s not Confederate flag-flying either. Madison, like most of us, is somewhere in between.
One of the quirks of my marriage is that my husband routinely points out to me how I say racist things. I don’t even notice it until he shows me. But I am pretty sure that most people are saying racist things, even if they don’t mean to. I must be uncomfortable talking about this because I wrote a whole piece on my decision making process and didn’t mention race once.
One of the best things we can do to squash racism is to believe in ourselves and in our neighbors that we can beat it. I’m doing that as I move to Madison. Another thing that helps fight racism is talking about it. That’s something we can do right here.