Wednesday, February 13, 2008


lately i've spent a lot of time lurking on local portland forums discussing the portland public school issue. trying to figure out which public school to send your child to, to me, is like staring down at several piles of dirt and picking the one that seems the least dirty. that is, unless you're privileged enough to live in one of the wealthier nabes where the parents can donate money to school programs.

but on these forums, it's a trip because parents of the mostly white, wealthy public schools will say things like, 'we love the school, but it's just not very diverse', or 'we want more diversity!'. i kept reading that phrase over and over from parents of those "whiter" schools. they want diversity!! but do they really? a couple thoughts came to my mind:

first, it's funny to think that just by me (or anyone black) being in a crowd of white people automatically makes the environment diverse. wow. just by plopping a handful of ethnic kids into a room of white people creates a "diverse" school.

and the thing that really gets me is that i seriously doubt they REALLY want diversity other than a few token ethnic kids. probably a handful more of black students in the school might satisfy their "need" but they know well and good that if their school suddenly flip flopped and became 90 percent black and 8 percent white, most of those parents would shudder and run for the hills and private schools.

why do they claim they want diversity so bad anyway? like black people are just interesting to watch and be around-we inherently provide instant culture? would those parents want to associate and befriend the other black students? do they have black friends? or do they just want them there so that their child can "experience culture" simply by gawking the black students in the classroom ? does it make the school complete?

from what i've heard from other black people who went to mostly white schools with only a handful of other black students, the white students did not include them as much, the black people had their little unit and they all stuck together. i guess it must make somebody (administrators?) feel good to say that there is diversity in their school, but i think that's about it.

and then i thought about the school my son attends. in my mind, i don't think of diversity as being just a bunch of black people. like, people think that a school that's mostly black is diverse. how is that diverse? as if blacks and hispanics alone epitomize diversity. the school my son goes to is like 8 percent white and then mostly black and hispanic with like 2 percent asian. the white parents who have kids there are always raving about how they love the diversity. okay, but is 8 percent white really diversity? i'm not necessarily advocating for more white people to join the school(well maybe i am?) but to be fair, diversity would be closer to an equal number of all different ethnicities. white people at our school are the minority.

i would have a hard time sending my son to a school where the black /multiracial kids only amounted to 8 percent. yet the white parents at my son's school seem to like being the 8 percent minority. go figure that.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


portland grocery stores seem to have adopted the wanna-be-whole-foods thing, i.e. painting their stores earthy colors i guess justify charging an arm-and-a-leg for generic items, hoping you wont notice as they try to compete with whole paycheck foods and new seasons. i'm not buying it though. i used to shop at my neighborhood safeway until i bought 4 tomatoes on the vine and it cost me 4.99. seems like we're all just paying for their remodel job a couple years back.

anyhow, i started shopping at winco a couple years ago because they have LOW prices. it was really hard for me at first to shop there. first of all, the people who shop there are different from who you see at the other stores (well, except for me of course :). i guess on some subconscious level when i'd see well dressed, well groomed shoppers at the other stores, it made ME feel better about who i was--afterall, i WAS shopping among upperclass people, it reassured me that i was like them...

but at winco, i'd see a lot of welfare moms (and please don't ask how i know they're welfare moms-you just know), immigrants, and generally more trashy people than what you might see at new seasons or whole foods or even safeway. i mean hey, it's affordable. but when i first started going there, i felt uncomfortable. like, i wasn't on that level, i didn't want to be lumped together with all the hoodrats, babymamas and illegals. i felt like by shopping there it made me one of "them". and then i was thought: maybe i was one of them and just didn't know it? people could see how well groomed and non-welfarish and clean i was, couldn't they? what if they didn't?

i no longer feel that way, as money talks a little bit louder than pride. but tonight i was reminded of those feelings i used to have when went there to get food and stuff for our mega superbowl party on sunday. it's the beginning of the month so of course i saw all these young , single moms and downtrodden folks with carts topped to the rim with things like hot dogs, cookies, cheetos, sugary kool-aid-in-the-gallonjug, fruit loops and other stuff like that. i guess that's another post i'll save for another day.