Caucasian enrollment dips below 50 percent Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Sep 27, 2011 at 9:13 am
As Palo Alto classrooms grow more racially diverse, Caucasian enrollment for the first time has dipped below 50 percent. This fall's ethnicity breakdown in the K-12 Palo Alto Unified School District is 49.2 percent Caucasian; 36.6 percent Asian; 10.4 percent Hispanic and 3.2 percent African-American.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 8:56 AM
Posted by JB Dad, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 9:39 am
What about children of mixed parents? I bet the demographics would change if people were allowed to declare Caucasian/Asian. There are quite a number of these kids (mine included) that are in our schools
Posted by Jay, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 10:56 am
"JB Dad's" point made me think about how our kids (and us too) are not statistics. They aren't half this or half that - they're kids! They're people. Just stop collecting these ridiculous stats and spend those resources on something more useful.
At least at our school, it seems like the kids don't care what ethnic groups their friends are in, though they might enjoy tasting different foods, and hearing some different languages when they play at each others houses. I'm not saying anyone should hide who they are, quite the contrary. But collecting these statistics and spending time on this only emphasizes the differences, not our commonality.
Unless the school district plans on treating students differently based on what ethnic or racial group they fall in, why does it matter?
Posted by JustMe, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:07 am
Many are probably thinking they don't care what the ethnicity is of the people driving up their property values, keeping them high while the real estate market in the rest of the country goes down the tubes.
What I care about?
1) Do my neighbor's kids play well with my kids? Yes? No problems.
2) Do the adults act respectfully to their neighbors and are they friendly? Yes? No problems.
3) Is the neighborhood remaining a nice place to live? Yes? No problems.
4) Are my neighbors focused on the ethnicity of their neighbors rather than the quality of character? Yes? We have a problem.
If I ever start choosing my friends, associates, business deals, or playmates aling ethnic or religous lines, I am going to seriously cramp my lifestyle and miss out on a lot.
The only time I have a problem with ethnicity is when others start pre-judging me and disliking or shunning me because of MY ethnicity. They have no idea what they are missing when they think like that.
I don't give a hoot what the ethnic makeup of our city is as long as we all get along as people, not races.
Posted by Midtown , a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:09 am
As a Caucasian with a number of Asian neighbors, I like my Asian neighbors. I find them to make good neighbors actually, usually quiet, with clean properties and nice manners.
My child has a mix of friends from the neighborhood/school. I like nothing more than seeing these Asian and non Asian kids being friends (they are in high school BTW). A good group of kids. I like them.
Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:12 am
I grew up here and graduated from Paly in the 80s and socialized with/dated Caucasians. This may surprise whites, but I don't want this to become a Cupertino either, nor do many of the Asian immigrants who move to Palo Alto (their reasoning being that they want diversity, not Cupertino). So we also hold our breaths. And I resent that whites stereotype me into being a Chinese immigrant and want nothing to do with me solely because I am Chinese and they resent the immigrants. In North Palo Alto, many of the Chinese immigrants are more Americanized even though they may speak with an accent. They are not all Tiger Moms (those are in Cupertino & Fremont). So please give them a chance.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:19 am
>> White fright leads to white flight?
Huh? People are so quick to label anything that tangentially touches on race or culture as racist that they are losing sight of many issues.
There are consequences, both good and bad to these questions, and the ability to consider and discuss them objectively and suspend gotcha-isms and finger-pointing would well-serve us for the future of our society.
Presumably, we have this thing called American culture, or use to have, and it had the public values of taking the best from all cultures, tolerence, acceptance, fairness, etc. This was a "myth", something we strived for even as in parts of the country we had virtual slavery and apartheid not to long ago, but we do move forward.
The question is, what are the consequences of possibly changing too fast, or taking into this system more people than it can process and whether we might lose the good part of what we had or revert to old patterns of racism of we do not plan things just right ... and is that even possible?
I went to high-school in Palo Alto in the 70's when there were almost all whites, very few hispanics, a few very separate and non-blended in blacks, and a very few Asians. That was clearly not a diverse time, but I am not so great to have areas dominated by any group.
I don't want to sound racist or in favor of whites, but I have lived and been around, and as whites used to have the "good-ole boy" network that promoted them I have eyes and can see the development of the same kind of things with minorities, particularly Asians in this areas and have very mixed feelings about it.
If it was discriminatory and unfair for whites to have the good-ole boy network, and I think it was, why is it proper, or any better for other groups, by race, culture, religion, or whatever to have these networks that act preferentially for others of the same type? Discussing the racial "balance" or "imbalance" of the schools is part of this discussion and ought to be talked about, with some patience and reserve ... there are touchy subjects and not helped by knee-jerk racial reactions.
It has always seemed to me also that these subjects would really far more benefit from discussion class, as in income and social strata than just race alone, and maybe see if there are people who have complaints about what they see as good-ole boy networks, white or non-white or caucasian or whatever.
Posted by Carlos, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:27 am
I think the Weekly staff is doing it again. Publishing ethnicity-related articles which probably most of us don't care about, but caters to a resentful/bigoted minority that will voice their fears and prejudices in an anonymous manner (which can be easily uncovered with today's technology). For the sake of our community and our society in general, I'm glad this is a dying breed.
And to the Weekly staff, please exercise good judgement when choosing what to publish. It might generate more traffic than usual, but you have other responsibilities as a community newspaper.
Posted by Taylor, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:35 am
I think the number of Asian children in the Palo Alto schools is substantially higher than is being reported. There are so many mixed race children in the schools. Mostly Caucasian men marrying Asian women. Hence the offspring have Caucasian last names.
Posted by Put Up Your Dukes, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:58 am
The best thing about this area is that the best and brightest have the opportunity to rise to the top. You see the same meritocracy in our local tech companies, that are the envy of the world. Palo Alto schools have some of the highest test scores in the state. Anyone, whether a student or business person, has the chance to compete and work their behind off to become a success. People come to Palo Alto from all over the world for this opportunity. I say, bring it on. I want to compete against the best that the world that has to offer, with no restrictions. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. It' time to admit that you just got out-worked and out-smarted.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Yes, we need to recognize all the mixed kids. Our community is very diverse and we do have many children from mixed racial background. Where are they in those numbers? If you are mixed asian and white, are you in the white or asian group? How about mixed latinos and blacks? Where are they? I am still a bit mad at Obama for calling himself black, not MIXED. We need to make our children proud of their diverse background. And we need more mixed, latinos and blacks in the upper-lane classes.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm
This article is blindsiding the real news we want to hear.
We don't want to know about ethnicity of our students, but we do want to know about how enrollment is moving. Which schools are bigger than last year, where are the overenrollments, which grades are getting bigger and which schools still have space?
These are the questions that should be made public.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Ann Marie - your comment reminded me of what an old beau of mine, mixed race white/African American, used to say re what "color" he called himself: Whatever color the sniper sees at the end of his scope - & that's likely to be black.
Our president was raised by the white side of his family, & lived, among other places, in a racially mixed state, but he looks black, many perceive him as black & it can be a complicated, individualistic thing. Since he's also married to a black woman and his kids are primarily black, his immediate personal milieu.
Honestly, I don't disagree w/you, but I understand why he refers to himself as black.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm
The Immersion Programs continue to have the privilege of a MUCH small class size in 4th and 5th grade than the rest of the District. (18 in the 4th grade MI class vs. 24 at some schools). In addition to learning a language (which few PAUSD elementary kids get to do) their class contains 20% less students.
Aside from that- I have found there to be as many white "Tiger Moms" as asian. That parenting style is not limited to any one ethnic group in Palo Alto.
Posted by To 3rd Generation Chinese, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm
This is Hmmm, from E. Palo Alto/Stanford. I also went to Paly & I am so sorry that people stereotype you & don't want to socialize w/you based on their perceptions. Your post made me very sad. I get some of that attitude living here in EPA as a "minority" but I also understand where it's coming from - people who've primarily been disadvantaged & underserved. So it allays some of the discomfort I've experienced. However, what you've experienced is totally inexcusable!
I've had long-term Asian neighbors here who're lovely & am pleased to see an increase in Asian EPA residents.
Posted by JustMe, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm
Have you ever gone to a Chinese resturaunt with Chinese-American co-workers who did not know how to use chopsticks. It make me think and realise that we need to view people as people, not ethnicities. These guys were 100% American, born, raised, educated, and aclimated to America, just like me. We need to move past the ethnicity-oriented crap and stop basing our expectations of them on what really, truly, is not a real indicator to their character.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm
I am about to embark on a taboo topic related to the discussion. Someone said something about Asian populations increasing in EPA, and I wonder if this is in part because Asians can qualify under Tinsley for entrance into PAUSD, as the rule states that the child must be of a minority ethnic group, which is then enumerated and basically includes anything besides white children. The antiquated law attempts to remedy any perception of unfairness by allowing white children in PAUSD the opportunity to transfer into Ravenswood. (Who wants to bet this has never happened?)
My point is that at one point in time the Tinsley legislation made sense because PAUSD was white. Now the "opportunity" exists and is written to allow for minority students to transfer in, but let's be honest. It was written to afford black children the opportunity, but no one wanted to specifically identify them in a narrow way, so the term "minority" was instead used. I wonder how many Asian children are now enrolled through Tinsley?
You can probably see what I am getting at- Don't you think there will soon be a legal challenge to this law? I mean if the school district has such a large minority student population, the law makes no sense as written.
Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm
@Hmmm: thanks for your kind words.
@ Anonymous, South Midtown: Asians do NOT count as minorities regarding academics because we are over-represented in academics. Our college applications do not fall under affirmative action and are viewed along with Caucasian applications. Asian Pacific Islanders (Tongans, Polynesians) are considered minorities.
From the PAUSD website re VTP (Tinsley Program):
Students of Color living in the Ravenswood City School District entering kindergarten, first, or second grade
I am 100% sureo n this point. Years ago my kids were at Palo Verde and there was a family with two amer-asian girls. Their dad was a doctor that lived in Palo ALto and their mom had to move to EPA when the divorce finalized. Someone reported their residence to Central Attendance because I guess they only lived part time on the weekends with dad. Their mom was able to get a Tinsley transfer and allow them to stay their because they were considered "Asian" and this qualified under the program.
Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm
@Anonymous: I did call and got voicemail. Do you know what kind of Asian they were? Doubtful they were Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Based on school directories, the VTP students are usually Hispanic or African-American. I have not known any who are Asian besides Tongan. But then again, how does one prove through documentation their exact ethnic background? Appearance doesn't always reflect everything.
Posted by Anciana, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm
My experience with the increasing numbers of Asians in my neighborhood has been very mixed. During the first few years, I felt that they simply moved in, pulled down their shades, and were not really seen around the neighborhood. To me, they seemed very unfriendly. A decade later, I find that when I am out in the neighborhood, walking, perhaps working in my garden in front of my house, if I just speak to an Asian who is walking by, I always receive a smile and a friendly answer. I have also noticed that the youngster next door has many friends who are from many different ethnic sources. I think the neighborliness in my area may be improving. Wouldn't that be nice!
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
It is way past time for Town Square to ban any racial identification in its pages. It benefits no one, and angers many. As individuals, I detect no significant difference between the races. Whatever I might gain by racial identity, I lose by generalizing rather than specificizing.
Since Obama is more than 50% white, the only ones identifying him as black are those who follow the Jim Crow concept that one drop of black blood makes you black.
Posted by Bob, a resident of another community, on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm
One more stat questions.
What percent of each ethnic grouping are in the PA schools because their parents work in Palo Alto, but the family does not live in Palo Alto.
What percent of each ethnic grouping are in the PA schools due to illegally registering from outside the district - I'm sure the district must have some sort of percent worked out for this situation.
For example renting a studio or one bedroom apt for the address and the family actually living outside the city or using the address of an acquaintance for registration purposes. I remember a former council member in Mtn View used to let numerous folks use her address in order to have their children get into the better district on the west side of town.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm
@3rd Generation Chinese:
The girls I was referring to that got on the VTP (Tinsley) were half Chinese and half Causcasian. I have a legal background (J.D.) and found this very interesting at a policy level. I called the Office that administers the program and was told that Tinsley is actually open to any child that is at least 50% of a race other than white. While we don't think of it this way because we generally see children that are Hispanic or African American come through the schools on VTP, it has always been open to other minority groups. I find it deeply ironic however because EPA is becoming increasingly less African American (compared to when the original lawsuit was heard in California court). Further, it is laughable that Asian students would be transferred to PAUSD in order to increase diversity, but that was the original goal of the law. So, I suspect that it will be challenged. I just wonder by whom... I also talked to someone at the ACLU about this because in the family I mentioned it seemed really unfair- the woman remarried a Caucasian man and had a white child. That child could not follow his siblings on Tinsley. (They ended up moving out of the area a few years later.)
Posted by 3rd Generation Chinese, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm
@Anonymous: Thank you for the clarification. The students of EPA need to take a test to be able to attend PAUSD. How do they determine which EPA children can attend PAUSD? Their test scores? Due to the academic emphasis in the Asian culture, I can imagine what might occur, which, as you mentioned, would be ironic.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm
I have never heard of an entrance exam? When I talked to the administering office, and mind you this would have been back in about 2001 or so, they told me that the spots were filled via a lottery system. However, the woman that had those girls was allowed to bypass the lottery due to the mid-year move and because the principal at Palo Verde who was then Eric Goddard also approved the "placement".
In any case, I did wonder back then why more Asians that maybe could not afford to live in Palo Alto, didn't just buy in EPA and take advantage of the program. It could be because it is not widely known that it is open to ANYONE in a minority group or it could be that people were just uneasy about living in EPA. I do think as EPA becomes safer, however, it will be interesting to see what the ethnic groups the children on the program come from.
In any case, I think you and I share common beliefs on the topic. The law is outdated, considering the makeup of the schools, and it would not be legal for the district to tailor a law to allow for integration of ONLY black children or black and hispanic children. So the law should just go.
Posted by Frank, Paly '67, a resident of another community, on Sep 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm
This is all a demographic portrait of changes of the face of America. Palo Alto, and Silicon Valley as a whole, is a major draw for Asians. If these industrious people have the financial means to afford homes in the area it's all well and good. Nothing stays the same and some may lament how things used to be, but it won't do them any good. The vast majority of my fellow classmates that I knew back in the late sixties era either live elsewhere, by choice, or plainly find Palo Alto unaffordable. So be it.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm
The west side 101 in EPA appears to be quite safe with mostly normal neighborhoods (where at least one of the 1/2 asian VTP families live). That's probably why Wells Fargo (thru Page Mill properties) bought all that property currently under discussion in EPA.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm
To clarify on some points: I don't know the numbers of Asians living in EPA. I have seen very few Asian children here, except for the older kids living down the street from me. The Pacific Islanders are NOT considered Asian, unless of course they are Fijian Indians. I have seen more Asians on the east side than the west side, in the newly constructed condos/houses off of Pulgas Ave. The majority of these places aren't rentals.
Wells Fargo didn't buy property on the west side. They took over Wachovia & Page Mill Properties defaulted on their loan to Wachovia/Wells, which is how Wells has ended up w/this portfolio of many rental properties, all on the west side of 101.
I don't mean to detract from the subject at hand, just wanted to clarify.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm
Chocolate, I think what MANY on this thread are saying is that same thing that you are. There was a substantial Asian pop when I was in school in PA. It wasn't a big deal at all - at least not publicly.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 6:49 pm
Affirmative Action: Can we please all be clear on the present state of the law. In university admissions affirmative action, as suggested here is illegal. However, the US Supreme Court (Justice O'Connor writing) stated in US v. University of Virginia that race could be considered for reasons of diversity in admissions when all other factors are equal. This is vastly different than the state of the law prior to this decision.
So, let's be clear. The white male will not be admitted ONLY if he has the exact same qualifications as a minority student IF the other student is underrepresented at the university.
So, I think people should read the opinion and understand the state of the law before they assume false and old rules apply.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm
While I had the law correct, I had the case wrong. (It's been a while since I was in school!) This is what one should know: "Two cases, first tried in federal courts in 2000 and 2001, were involved: the University of Michigan's undergraduate program (Gratz v. Bollinger) and its law school (Grutter v. Bollinger). The Supreme Court (5-4) upheld the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their students because it furthers "a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." The Supreme Court, however, ruled (6-3) that the more formulaic approach of the University of Michigan's undergraduate admissions program, which uses a point system that rate students and awards additional points to minorities, had to be modified. The undergraduate program, unlike the law school's, did not provide the "individualized consideration" of applicants deemed necessary in previous Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action.
In the Michigan cases, the Supreme Court ruled that although affirmative action was no longer justified as a way of redressing past oppression and injustice, it promoted a "compelling state interest" in diversity at all levels of society. A record number of "friend-of-court" briefs were filed in support of Michigan's affirmative action case by hundreds of organizations representing academia, business, labor unions, and the military, arguing the benefits of broad racial representation. As Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority, "In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity." Retrieved from Web Link
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm
IF the UC System moves forward with a process to charge tuition based on race, they will immediately find themselves in a legal battle. For starters there is a strong argument that it is unconstitutional. Equal protection under the law? Further, there is no rational relationship between race in the general sense and affordability or lack thereof of University of California. So, I refuse to worry about this.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm
Palo Altans and East Palo Altans, we need to stop bullying in our schools. We need to teach our children about diversity. The bullying starts in elementary schools and does not stop until you are out. That is the main reason the groups do not mix in high school. You see the latinos, blacks, white and asians all in separate groups. And about Affirmative Action, we can only stop it when we also stop enrolling kids because of legacies in top schools. Legacies take 30% of the spaces of the top universities in this country. We have a MIXED president, but when he meets with people who owns companies here in Palo Alto, everyone around him is white. All the CEOs, CFOs, Founders, etc, are white. There is something still very wrong with this picture. Asians are not the CEOs. If Facebook founder was not white, would he get all the money he received to start his company? What is your opinion about it? Would Facebook be Facebook if he was a black or latino drop out? HUM????
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm
A few comments here:
1) Tinsley was a lawsuit whose basis was on previous discrimination - it wasn't based on increasing diversity in the schools, although that the increase in diversity is a side effect of the agreement. African Americans were not the only ones discriminated against in the past; Asians were as well - laws in the 1800s prevented them from owning property, and even as recently as the 1950's many Palo Alto homes had deed restrictions against ownership by Asians, African Americans, etc.
2) Kids enrolled in the Palo Alto school district not only come from the Tinsley program (about 500 kids), but also from Stanford & Los Altos Hills. From the 2010 census, 27% of Palo Alto residents were Asian, but according to the school statistics, 36% of the students are Asian. So the difference can be from the students who live at Stanford & Los Altos Hills.
3) And one doesn't need to own a house to send your kids to Palo Alto schools; one can rent an residence (apartment or house). Look at the next level of details, and you will find that the social economic distribution is more highly "middle class" than you might suspect. Throw in that many of the "rich" put their kids in private school. More "social economic diversity" comes from the renters than most people realize. You can map where the apartment complexs are, the rents they charge, and the elementary schools they feed into, against the Star test results, and you'll see the correlation.
Posted by AnotherOpinion, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:00 am
Ann Marie, I agree that bullying is unacceptable. But isn't your comment fall under 'close the academic gap' umbrella? Kids in PA are world travelers, with very educated supportive parents, trillion extra activities after school. They are not bragging, they are sharing. And if another child is intimidated, too bad. I didn't choose private school exactly for that reason - it was hard to pay tuition, not to mention all the extras. Didn't want my child to feel out of place for ALL THE WRONG REASONS! if those kids/groups doesn't mix in HS - probably they have little in common. Kids from PA are also grouped and don't go around clustered...
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 8:00 am
@Common Sense: Yes, the lawsuit was the consequence of discrimination and the remedy was to provide opportunities for those class of children- identified as minorities other than white. However, tell me as it is implemented in 2011, does it have merit? Are we trying to reverse socioeconomic discrimination or race based discrimination?
Many races contained within the broad category of children that are afforded the opportunities through VTP are already highly represented in the school districts to which they could transfer under the program. One example of these are Asian children. Yet, I hardly think that the remedy would suddenly be revised to exclude Asian children!
So, if the fundamental goals of VTP are to remain, it probably should employ other criteria than mere race based entrance into the program. Perhaps it should be race based coupled with a socioeconomic test or maybe it should just be done away with altogether.
Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 8:29 am
How do changing demographics affect what we value as a community?
Is AYSO different? The Art Center? Our libraries? Etc.
My blond haired blue eyed college age daughter speaks fluent Mandarin, thanks to programs here in PA and her drive to master it while in college. What a great place we live in that lends itself to such a story.
My adult son plays on some softball leagues in SF. Half the guys on one of his teams are Asian background, but as American as anyone. They speak only English, have never been to the country of their ancestors.
The Irish, the Italians, the Polish and others were treated skeptically in places east of here back in the day, and this is no different.
Schools are the attraction for many who move to Palo Alto. Community is what keeps the likes of me here.
To my way of thinking, the question is whether the Community we have here is embraced by those who now are part of it, or if there is a cultural change, and things that are need some tweeking. This is not an easy thing to do, more for the academia across El Camino than those of us dealing with our lives.
My gut feel and personal experience is that members of this community behave according to what they value. The ethnic background dissipates, people are here for other reasons.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 9:00 am
@Anonymous - your question about the merits of the Tinsley program in 2011 is a good one. How long should future generations be held accountable for the sins of the prior generations? and how does the Tinsley program affect the Ravenswood school district, by removing families who probably would participate/volunteer at a higher rate in the schools?
Unfortunately it would probably take another lawsuit for any modification of Tinsley, and I doubt anyone would want to take that on.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 9:55 am
@Common Sense: Feel free to correct me here, but I believe the problem is that it is hard to identify any private person that would have standing in court to challenge Tinsley? Who could assert that it harms them in any way? It would be a tough argument and anyone who made it would be a deemed a racist.
I think that the school district would have to challenge Tinsley maybe by seeking an injunction on the basis that the funding they receive for the students (if in fact it is lower than typical funding) is a burden and that in weighing the benefits of the program against the this burden... You see where I am going. Alternatively, maybe the argument is that the handful of students becomes burdensome when neighborhood elementary schools are so full that they must overflow. Just some possible arguments, and they may be without merit. I'm not clear on the funding that accompanies the Tinsley kids. Maybe you are?
I just think that San Mateo County should address the EPA kids and their needs. Are they allowed to easily transfer to other schools in the county besides Ravenswood? I don't blame parents for wanting a better education for their kids and think they should have some options. I just think "Tinsley" should not be one of them.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 10:51 am
@Anonymous, I believe for someone to challenge this in court would require legal standing, deep pockets to pay for the costs, patience as this would take years, and a thick skin for what certain special interest groups would do to attack the people who instigated such a challenge.
I do know that Tinsley applies not just to Palo Alto, but also to the following school districts: Belmont-Redwood Shores, Las Lomitas, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, San Carlos and Woodside.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 28, 2011 at 10:54 am
AnotherQuestion, you are naive to think that the students don't brag & bully. You are wrong to blame the victims - those bullied. I saw it plenty of times in PA schools & of course, it still goes on - I know PA kids who've been bullied & I know who some of the bullies are. Sharing info is NOT bullying, but part of bullying can be *how* info is conveyed - which has nothing to do with sharing. We all know that.
Posted by Nobody, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 11:29 am
Someone mentioned President Obama's ethnicity. For what it's worth, I have always thought of him as half&half. Whether half white and half black or half black and half white and I would never call him "black" or "white." My family is mixed, too. We have 3 ethnicities represented. And I almost never get any strange looks when I'm out with my kids who look absolutely nothing like me. I consider it a side-benefit of living in such a nice melting pot.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm
Has anyone had this experience recently.... I took the kids to Pardee Park. This is not our neighborhood park as we are in Midtown. I remembered it as a great place to go, but had a bad experience. There seemed to be a lot of people from outside of Palo Alto, which would have been just fine, but their behavior was not.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm
A lot of people from EPA use Eleanor park because it's close to EPA. I see plenty of my neighbors heading to Rinconada & Eleanor Parks. Most of them, of course, are perfectly polite. But get this - gasp! I've met rude Palo Altans at various parks & other public places. What a concept! I even recall some of these rudies from when I was a PA resident.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm
Not sure why my previous post was deleted. I was just saying the truth, that there are a lot of bullying in our elementary schools and that some kids from PA bully kids that are from EPA.
All EPA kids listen at one point or another to "jokes" about where they come from, about their racial background and about the fact that cannot afford things.
Our schools are not helping kids learn how to embrace cultural and racial differences, and this is a lost for everyone. Sometimes the parents are the ones that do not want their kids associated with kids from EPA, because of some stereotyping. We need to stop that. They are all kids, just kids.
Let's help all of them learn about the importance of diversity and let's help our kid be friends with those who are not exactly like them. Help your kids get out of the bubble they live in. Let them share and learn from people who are from EPA or any where else.
@No Party at Pardee - why were you so intimidated at the loud latino kids? Culturally, some latinos are lower and have more passion when they speak. Some Italians are also like that. Why would that be intimidating? Is there any problem about kids and teens talking about parties?
I love parties, I am loud and I was extremely loud when I was younger. So what!? I believe am a good citizen, I work hard, I try to be kind to everyone, and I teach my kids to be kind. I hope my boys will not be shy and I hope they will be able to express themselves with passion as well. I hope they will have a great life with lots of parties too.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm
@Ann Marie: It was not merely that the people in question were loud, Ann Marie. It was that the girl was talking about getting stoned and wasted, right on the playground area. I really didn't think it was something that the kids playing should hear! I have nothing against good natured loud people. I grew up in an Irish/Italian family. My fault for not clearly articulating what it was that was disturbing.
And to others- I do think there are plenty of rude Palo Altans as well! I just happen to think that the percentage of gangs and drug use is must higher in certain populations in EPA than in PA and I don't want my kids around it.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm
P.S. I appreciate the desire in Palo Alto for everyone to identify themselves as tolerant and progressive, and this includes a desire to encourage and want diversity. It is important to have diversity to learn from one another and grow. It is also important because it fosters these values in our children.
However, I think many of us are quick to judge others for racist tendencies or ideas when we ourselves have some of these issues. For example, if it were dark and you were walking down a street in San Francisco and a black man was coming up behind you would you be more scared than if that person were a white male?
I have always answered questions like these with, "What is the man wearing?" because I have a very definite bias- At some level I imagine that a well dressed person is less likely to assault me in any way. May be completely untrue, but it is how I think. Nonetheless the reality is, I secretly am more afraid if the person is black and if that person is dressed in one dominant color or poorly dress, multiply that fear. I wish it were not so, but I am. This is in spite of having a best friend in my 20's that is black. Just can't shake it.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm
@No Party at Pardee - Dressing up, well, it is not my thing. I would not do it for you or for anyone else. I am from Berkeley and I love my used clothes. We need to stop stereotyping. People are just people. Stop over thinking and judging people by their appearance, race or whatever else.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm
@Ann Marie: We can't all be perfect like you. Was just admitting my own identified faults, that came from a lot of reflection on the issue. It's great that you are not made uncomfortable by young men of color sporting gang colors. I have an aversion to risk and while it is stereotyping, I find it has some minimal usefulness.
I lived in Santa Cruz for many years and appreciate the Bohemian/ free-spirited types. That is largely different from what I am talking about. I think you know the difference.
Maybe one day I will be as enlightened as you. Until then...
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm
Since Eleanor Park has a history of gangbangers hanging out, call the cops when you see them, even if it means getting your kids out of there first. Heck, I used to call the police to Eleanor Park when I lived nearby & saw gangsters there- but that was before cell phones, so it was way more of a hassle than to do it now.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm
@Hmmm: You're right. That is the best solution to this issue. The older teen/twenty something I was complaining about wasn't breaking any laws, though she was being very inappropriate considering the childhood audience. Nonetheless, let's agree to warmly welcome diversity, but not tolerate thugs whether white or otherwise!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm
Yeah, my "welcome diversity" philosophy isn't open-minded enough to include criminals. I may have once gone too far w/a dirtbag gangbanger who blocked my car when I honked at him for cutting me off on Newell. Usually I'm a little wiser than that, but was on my way to visit someone in the ER at Stanford. He literally blocked my car w/his, but he backed down, surprisingly, when I confronted him. Usually, I'm more stealth than that! I feel it was a bit of a free pass & thank my lucky stars that I was able to go to the ER on my own, not as a patient!
The sitch you describe is dicey because calling the police can just escalate it, but it may not be safe for you to confront the person, either. Such a lousy thing because what you wanted was something very simple & basic: decent behavior in a public place in front of your kids.
Posted by Moira , a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm
It's both fascinating and frustrating how a town of well-educated people can so easily go off topic on these forums. I am moving from Palo Alto for commute reasons, so my input is from reading the latest enrollment figures and making certain logical conclusions rather than caring one way or another.
South Palo Alto has become and will continue to become increasingly immigrant Chinese/Indian because these Silicon Valley tech immigrants want their children to go to Gunn High (check feeder schools by ethnicity, there is no argument). It is a free country, people can move where they want if they can buy or rent in a particular town. Whatever opinion various writers have about this issue, it has already happened. How you react to this fact obviously varies by all the different responses here.
What the information also suggests, that future Palo Alto residents will grapple with, is a very noticeable North-South divide by ethnicity. Not bad or good, but a change nonetheless. It seems many people writing here are having a hard time with the change, but it is already here.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Ann Marie: I wish I understood how your being black is relevant. Clearly it is, but I don't get it. My very black and dear friend Lisa (Lisa made sure we understood that her being "very black" was important because she was discriminated in school by other blacks because she was considered unattractive for being so dark!) felt the same way about sketchy dressed people, particularly if they were minorities.... Maybe she was whiter than she ever imagined.
In any case, I am very surprised that you don't share the same feelings when you are in the presence of men wearing gang colors, etc. I wish I had your strength, but I don't. Give me a preppy dressed black man and a sketchy dressed shaved headed white man, and I would choose to share the elevator with the black man any day of the week. I suppose as the root of it all, I am a snob, but not because I think I am better than anyone...because I worry about tomorrow and whether I will be there for my kids and family.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm
@ Hmmm: Exactly! You don't want to ask her to watch her language due to kids being around because what if it only ticks her off! EPA & PA have to stand strong on this issue- we don't care what your ethnicity is. Just be a decent and considerate person.
@Moira: We are a caucasian family and we chose to buy in the Gunn district for the same reason as the Indian/Chinese families. We wanted the higher performing school, but were unclear if it was so due to the innate qualities of those that attend or a best teaching staff. In any case, I guess we are the minority over here. We love our elementary school and while our neighbors seem to keep to themselves, we love the neighborhood. I guess if I could change anything it would be to increase the interaction between families.
In spite of our charged discussion, I think we all generally love what Palo Alto has to offer and really appreciate the diversity? At least, I hope so. Welcome.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm
@No Party at Pardee - The color of my skin in relevant because the same way you prefer to take an elevator with someone dress up, and you don't feel safe walking at night in the same side walk with a black person (for whatever reason), there are many people that also prefer not to take the elevator with me. I don't dress up and I am black. If I go to a store, someone will follow me to make sure I am not stealing. This happens all the time. If I was not a person of color, no one would be bothering to follow me.
The color of my skin matters because if I am loud at a park, the same way the latinos you met, some people feel uncomfortable. If I was a loud Italian lady, I don't think people would be bothered.
And my kids are bullied at school because of stereotypes. It is so hard for them to make friends, and many times I have to tell people that I don't live in EPA, just so my boys can get a break. This is what I have to do to go by every single day. So, yes, the color of my skin matters.
Next time you see someone "suspicious" try to think about how many times this person felt discriminated by our society. Think about the fact that this person may not have any chance to decent education. Think about their parents working two or three minimum wage jobs. Think about the numerous complex factors they may face in their lives. And, don't cross the street. Just say hello, how are you? Try to refer to this person as a person.
Posted by mmmmMom, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm
While I must admit some of the above comments dismay me, I am very glad to see open discussion of the issue(s). If we don't face these difficult subjects head on, then nothing will be learned, nothing will be clarified.
My only comment is to say that this issue IS important, & that pretending the demographic change in Palo Alto isn't happening is ridiculous. It is also equally absurd to pretend (or to minimize) that the effect of the increasing Asian-American population here is always compatible with long standing community values.
Posted by What?, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2011 at 9:54 pm
mmmmMom, I don't understand what you mean by, "It is also equally absurd to pretend (or to minimize) that the effect of the increasing Asian-American population here is always compatible with long standing community values."
If you want an open discussion, please discuss. Curious minds want to know. Thanks.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:02 am
I recognize that the influx of Asian-Americans changes the culture and climate of Palo Alto, but from at least my standpoint, it is welcome. We are a caucasian family and my neighbors on both sides are of Asian decent- Indian on one side and Chinese on the other. Unfortunately, we don't socialize, but they are respectful neighbors and I in turn try to reciprocate. The local elementary school is heavily Asian, and I love that my son seems to blend right in, not really fully appreciating that he is different than his friends in culture of looks.
Sure it is bound to change the pre-existing values with a dramatic shift in culture, but isn't that what being American is all about? We need to be flexible and evolve with the changes, and in doing so, we can develop and grow.
Posted by Carlos, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 11:08 am
Just wanted to offer some thoughts based on my experience as an immigrant, and from my upbringing south of the border in a society that is a lot more ethnically integrated than what we find here (For those who haven't been out of this sheltered community much: other countries have done a better job integrating multi-ethnic groups by focusing on priorities like jobs, education, etc rather than asking if someone's ethnicity is half this, a quarter this, and so on...):
1. Can't fight demographics trends. Just like successful companies from a generation ago might no longer be around, those intolerant individuals in the community who want to preserve the way things were before are definitely outnumbered and in the wrong place nowadays. The valley has been successful due to its meritocracy culture, and this has allowed people who weren't even part of the corporate landscape a generation ago to live wherever they please, regardless of what some bigots in the neighborhood might think.
2. As our own immigration story shows, there will always be some cultural misunderstandings and adjustments during the transition period. I would hope that with the level of wealth and education in this community, we would be smarter about it and not recreate some of the unpleasant experiences that surfaced when non-whites started moving into white suburbs in the 60's.
3. Despite some obviously racist and bigoted comments from individuals hiding behind anonymity, I've also seen many sensible postings from various sources, and I think we are marching in the right direction as a community who faces these changes on a daily basis. As someone mentioned earlier, if you don't like this, you can still sell your home for lots of $ and move to a more 'homogeneous' community.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 11:18 am
Reading through these comments we are looking at two different aspects.
The first aspect is that we are judging people by their looks, what they wear and how they act. That is what we do because it is automatic. I would rather judge someone by their appearance (whether they are clean), what they wear and how they act than by the color of their skin. If people look and act respectful, I will respect them regardless.
The second aspect is that we are afraid of becoming too Asian (whatever that means). I have no problem with other cultures as long as they are respectful to me and mine. I do occasionally feel out of place when I am the only person speaking English at a school or other event, or when I have to "press 1 for English". If it becomes out of place to speak English in Palo Alto, that is when I will get worried.
Posted by RussianMom, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm
@resident, you said it all. Wining from both sides is ridiculous. What racism are we talking in PA? It's such a diverse community. I know how to compare after going through 2 immigrations. Everybody are welcome here IF you are respectful and add to the community, not separate yourself or put against others with one dominant culture. After moving to the US, immigrant MUST learn English. Home language is a personal choice of the family. if the kids are at the playground and somebody is talking inappropriately, I don't care who the person is - it's remain inappropriate. My child have a wonderful group of friends - just name the background. You should see them during lunch breaks at school. One big potluck, international cuisine. BUT those kids have something more in common then just being raised in PA. they share same believes and interests. That can't be forced. Values are international after all and it doesn't matter at what language they are taught.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm
@RussianMom - If you are white and you are a second generation, or even if you are the immigrant yourself, you may not understand what is to be discriminated in the country.
If you are third or fourth generation Asian, Latino or if you are black, then you know that racism still exist and is very well alive here and everywhere else in this country.
You cannot pretend that there is no racism and discrimination here in Palo Alto.
@Resident - You said: The first aspect is that we are judging people by their looks, what they wear and how they act.
Well, I say, you should get to know people first. You should not be judging people by their looks and what they wear and how they act. Culturally people act in many different ways. People do not have to dress up to be good people. And my looks, should not matter either.
I am a a good and kind person. I am hard working. I am raise my kids to be good. And, I face racism and discrimination all the time. And I am not alone. Just go around and talk to Latinos and Blacks in our town.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm
@Ann Marie: I think you completely missed Resident's point. The point is that when you first encounter someone, there is no time to "get to know them". Psychologically, you process the image you have before you, and whether you like it or not, it is a fact that people make judgments based on these initial impressions. These subtle biases may likely be rooted in instinct/survival over learned behavior, but who knows. What we do know is that virtually everyone has them. We have biases and to pretend that we don't is ridiculous. You should go to the Harvard University study on implicit biases and do one of the quizzes. You might be shocked that you too have certain implicit associations relating to sex or race or whatever... It is quite eye opening: Web Link I did one of the surveys and was very surprised that I am not the feminist I think I am because I associate such words as strength and leader with men. You quickly figure out what your biases are when you do these surveys because your reaction time slows dramatically when you do not identify a particular trait with a type of person (whether based on race or gender or whatever...)
Might be fun for all of us to do and compare notes.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm
Ann Marie: Also, I think you misunderstood both Resident & I when we said we make internal judgments based on how someone is dressed. We are not asking you to wear Armani or Prada. Nor do we care if your clothes are from Good Will. We are looking to see if you are put together and clean. We might also be looking to see if someone is wearing gang colors. That's pretty much it.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm
I do not get to know everyone I come across. However I can look at them. If their appearance (whether they are clean), what they are wearing (vulgar slogans on tshirts for example), and if their behavior is respectful, then in my opinion they are respectful people and I will respect them. I don't need to know them to respect them.
Most people have a standard of behavior and appearance which is the same regardless of culture. Someone who has obviously not washed their body or their clothes has the appearance of not having self respect. Someone whose clothes are obviously showing disrespect to others by vulgar or offensive language or design, is not showing respect to the society they meet. Someone who is behaving in an offensive manner, swearing, shouting obscenities, or making the type or amount of noise that makes others unable to hear their own conversations, are also not showing respect.
I am not talking about culture, but I am talking about acts which make others feel uncomfortable in a public setting.
I can't get to know others I meet fleetingly, but I can tell whether others are respectful towards me or not. I once needed help in a very rough neighborhood and I was helped by a very nice, respectful, local. We treated each other with respect and I got the help I needed. I had no idea what the individual was like except that I was treated well and I was grateful for the help. I thanked the individual. I feel sure that if I had acted defensively when the help was offered, after all I was the one out of place, I would have been treated differently. It all comes to attitude. If we respect each other, then we get respect back. If we make ourselves appear to be respectful to others, then we get respect back. It does come down to appearances, behavior and respect.
Posted by RussianMom, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm
Ann Marie, yes, I am white and first generation (easy to judge from my broken English). My suggestion to you - stop feeling sorry for yourself, blame others for racism while checking who surrounded Obama at his visit to Silicon Valley. Why does it matter to you? They are people and what should matter - if they are good. A lot of people of ALL races and believes can be equally successful here. A lot of opportunities are given to ALL families and it's up to the person to use or waste it.
Posted by RussianMom, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm
Ann Marie, yes, I am white and first generation (easy to judge from my broken English). My suggestion to you - stop feeling sorry for yourself, blame others for racism while checking who surrounded Obama at his visit to Silicon Valley. Why does it matter to you? They are people and what should matter - if they are good. A lot of people of ALL races and believes can be equally successful here. A lot of opportunities are given to ALL families and it's up to the person to use or waste it.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm
I'm not sure what relevance there was to the comment that those in Obama's presence from the Valley were all white. He met with the CEO's of the top companies around here, and they happen to be white. Was the comment taking aim at the CEO's being white or at Obama only associating with white C-level execs? If it was the latter, that's ridiculous. He can't control the race of the CEO's of the top companies.
I hate to be harsh, but RussianMom hit the nail on the head- Stop playing the victim and get on with it.
(Go RussianMom! I hope my kids end up being friends with yours as well... I love your comments on here and think you are a welcome addition to the Palo Alto community.)
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:16 pm
p.s. My husband is first generation also- but from Wales. He lived in Japan for two years and Canada for less. We love it here. We love the buzz of the Valley. We love the diversity and being able to find just about any kind of ethnic food in close proximity to where we live. We love that there is a strong emphasis on education and that the class size in elementary school is better than any other public school in the area. We love the Asian influence and the many different accents that parents have all about us. In summary, we just love it here.
Posted by Asian-American Mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm
Even if @RussianMom is white, how she sees the world and embraces diversity and change speaks a lot of her.
I am, in fact, a third-generation Asian, and I don't disagree with you in regards to the fact that racism still exists. In fact, just reading the many threads on PaloAltoOnline speaks for itself. I am, however, hopeful that the posters who spew negativity and intolerance are just a handful of individuals who post over and over again.
On the flip-side, there are many, many wonderful people in Palo Alto like RussianMom who enjoy and appreciate all that other cultures have to offer. I, for one, know a lot of them and am very thankful for their friendship.
RussianMom is right - ultimately, if we share the same values and dreams, this is all that matters.
The more we get to know each other, the richer and happier our lives will be.
And in reference to appearances and initial impressions, sometimes, it just takes a simple smile to break the ice. :o)
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm
@Asian American Mom: I totally agree with your statement about smiles. It is quite amazing how much more comfortable I feel in the presence of a stranger when a smile is offered or reciprocated. It totally changes the dynamics.
I do, however, disagree with respect to racism. I am on my second marriage. My first husband is Chinese and when we were first married we had to move from here to Texas, where he did his surgical residency. It was an eye opening experience, because whatever subtle racism might exist in a minority of people in the Bay Area, imagine a much larger population that feels that way. The first week in Texas, he took me to an Astros v. Giants game in Houston, and I of course was rooting for the Giants. A group of four large white men started shouting behind me, "Don't mind her. She don't like white meat!" I felt very intimidated and scared. This was hardly our only experience with intolerance/ ignorance. Another was when we were in a small town called Castroville on our way back from inner tubing. We were pulled over in a speed trap and the officer kept staring at my ex for a long time. He finally handed over the ticket. He marked that my ex was white with black eyes and black hair. I seriously think he had never seen an Asian man before and hadn't a clue.
There is much to be thankful here. The vast majority of people are progressive, tolerant, respectful and multi-cultural in ideology.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm
Ann Marie's correct. She knows what it's like to be mistreated based on her race. My immigrant white spouse doesn't have to put up w/the lousy treatment that our black friends & neighbors do. It's really easy to preach to her when you're a white person, no matter how long you're been here.
I've been appalled at the treatment some of my black friends have received - in public, by various authorities - all local, here in Palo Alto. They range in age from young to old, both genders, many professions - but they all have bad stories to tell. I've been treated poorly as a white person here in EPA, but it's not as effecting because 1) it hasn't happened all of my life & 2) I come from the dominant culture, so it's localized
Have any of you heard the true story that happened at Nordstrom/Stanford in the late 80s? Their security received a call to check out a suspicious woman in one of the ladies' clothing departments. Security was dispatched & that "suspicious" woman was musician Tracy Chapman. She, like Ann Marie, doesn't like to dress up. She's not glam & she's darker skinned - her behavior wasn't remotely suspicious. But she was guilty of what my black friends call SWB - Shopping While Black.
It's impossible to walk a mile in Ann Marie's shoes, or any of the Asians here who've been mistreated, when we're white. It's easy for us to advise, but truly impossible for us to know what it's like.
I am very, very sorry - we have a long way to go in this area.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm
I'm sorry but the while the story of Tracy Chapman is upsetting, that's not news. That happens all the time and not just to those that are black. While in law school, I met a wonderful and very bright young guy who was what I would call a Bohemian type. He is a white Jewish guy that is very earthy. Grows his facial hair, wears sandals everywhere he goes and had this silly trench coat that he liked to wear. He looks a little different. He also is passionate about civil rights and he shared in torts class that just for fun he had been into a certain Walgreens in SF on several occasions because he noticed that the security personnel would follow him around. He decided to play with them a bit and picked things up and held them for a while and put them back and picked up other things. He was amused by their reactions and more interested, actually, in what the limitations of their legal rights were. He put items in his pocket and when corned he said he had every intention of paying for them. He once was detained, which because he really had not done anything wrong was potentially the tort of false imprisonment.
In any event, while it is wrong and annoying and unsettling that blacks are profiled when shopping, they are not alone. The people that hold these positions are usually not college educated. They are making minimum wage. I would bet that their training is lacking with respect to civil liberties versus valid risk management as well as profiling. They are not the brightest bulbs in the bunch and I hope that we don't use these people as the standard for proclaiming racism.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm
@RussianMom. You said: "stop feeling sorry for yourself, blame others for racism..." and you also said: "A lot of opportunities are given to ALL families and it's up to the person to use or waste it."
I do not feel sorry for myself. I know who I am and I am very proud of myself. I stay true to what I believe. I speak the truth when I say that there are a lot of discrimination here in PA, and my boys also face discrimination at school. Those are facts.
There is a grass ceiling out there as well. As diverse as we are here in the Bay, not everyone has the same opportunity.
Your statement that about a lot of opportunities is given to ALL families, is far from reality.
You clearly have no idea what it is to be a minority in this country. You have no idea how hard it is for people like me to be strong and have self-esteem with all that we face, every day, everywhere. It is not easy. I am not winning. I am just trying to let you know how it is. And not everyone can fight back the system.
And @resident and @No Party at Pardee, people need to stop judging people without knowing them. Period. Nothing else. Just stop judging or crossing the streets... instead, just say: "Hello".
PREJUDICE - definition: is a prejudgment, an assumption made about someone or something before having adequate knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover".
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm
Sorry to but into this again, but it is down to attitude. If you act without respect, you are likely to be treated without respect.
I remember seeing a BBC black journalist being interviewed here about his time reporting in the LA area. Yes, he is black English, not African American. He was asked if he encountered any racism. His reply was that regardless of whether he was dressed in his suit and working, or off duty in a pair of shorts or sweats and t shirt, he found that people treated him with respect because he treated them respectfully. He said that as soon as he started speaking to them politely in his British accent, people were amazed because they were not expecting him to speak like that. He understood exactly where they were coming from so he always pre-empted any problems by being polite and respectful. The only people who were not respectful of him that he came across were those who looked just like him and expected him to behave as aggressively as they did.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm
I don't think Ann Marie is at all open minded. She has determined that everyone is racist around here and that she is the victim and no one is going to make her believe otherwise. I supplied a link to an ongoing study being conducted by a group at Harvard that really helps to show that we ALL have certain associations and prejudgments with regard to various people. I highly recommend that instead of Ann Marie telling all of us to stop judging, that she try out some of the surveys and perhaps have an epiphany- Yes, Ann Marie, I would put money on the fact that you too have preconceived notions about various people. We all do.
We can use these prejudgments in constructive ways, as Resident suggested, to make safety determinations. For example, if someone is unclean or unkept we can assume they have a lack of self-respect and perhaps they have other issues: mental illness, or just a general lack of respect. We might be wrong, but I would rather error on the side of caution and proceed accordingly. We can also use these prejudgments destructively in which case we are doing a disservice to our community and ourselves.
This community is more likely, I think, to use it's knowledge base constructively. We are a highly educated and enlightened group.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm
Ann Marie, it's disturbing to me that otherwise very decent folks on this thread refuse to get it, citing others who are mistreated who aren't black & those who are not being mistreated. While that's is the case in their examples, it doesn't change your experiences, what I've witnessed & also heard from my friends. I was also a witness to the Tracy Chapman incident & it was beyond mortifying- which is why I've remembered it all of these years.
You never claimed to have the market cornered on being treated in a demeaning manner based on your race.
I think that what's happening here is a deliberate muddying of the waters, as I've seen before, because many whites truly don't want to admit what's happening now in this country w/blacks. We may have elected Obama, but there's still a lot of racism blended w/classism & sexism in this country. The case currently in Jackson, MS involving the murdered black man & the youths who killed him is heartbreakingly telling.
Palo Alto is its own bubble & that bubble burst more for African Americans than anyone else. I know it bursts for Asians & Latinos as well.
I could cite a number of incidents here in PA that have happened to black friends of mine, mostly men, but I won't. Let's just say that having a Ph.D., M.D. or J.D. don't always provide a protective bubble, either.
Posted by Asian-American Mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm
Growing up in a mainly white neighborhood in the 80s, I have received my share of "experiences". Here is one of my more lighthearted experiences.
The story of my high school band trip...
In high school, we had a band exchange with a school in North Carolina that was 50% white and 50% black (no Asians). There were three Asians in my high school band. When we walked into the auditorium to meet all of the exchange kids and parents, everyone fell silent and all eyes were on the three of us. No one said a word - they just formed a circle around us and stared. You could hear a pin drop (and probably me, weeping with fear.) I was convinced that none of the families would take us in for the week.
During the trip, our bus stopped at a McDonald's for a lunch break. When I went up to the counter to order my meal, a boy (he was black) behind the counter stopped what he was doing, stared at me and shouted, "Wow, you people are even more beautiful in real life!" He told me to wait a second, came back with a specially wrapped straw and said, "Here... this is a wrapped straw... just for you." Throughout lunch, he swept the area around my table and made sure I was well taken care of. Then, he asked me if Bruce Lee was my uncle and if I ever rode on "one of those bicycles with hundreds girls on it." haha!
We had to ignore all of the stares wherever we went. We had to pretend that we didn't hear some of the offensive comments other kids said within earshot. We had to work extra hard during the trip to "fit in" and "feel normal."
I could have taken offense to all of the stares and questions and accused everyone of being intolerant, but I realized that everyone was just curious.
Through the years, I have learned to reach out to people to try and get to know them. I smile. I say hello. After that, it is up to the other person to accept or not accept me.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 29, 2011 at 6:14 pm
A black baseball player from Stanford had a very similar experience in Japan. The majority of the Japanese baseball fans had never seen an African American in person before. The baseball player told me he preferred not fitting in there, all the stares & whispers, to how he was treated in his own country. He smiled a lot; I don't think people committed to mistreating others based on race are often redirected by a smile. Sure, it works w/those who are decent, but not those committed to doing ill.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Thank you Hummm for your postings. I also find sad that the very well educated folks in this tread does not get it, but I know that one have to experience discrimination (or see it) to understand. And even when you see it, it is different that feeling it.
There are many studies out there about so many things, the truth is that many of those studies were not conducted by blacks and latinos, the two groups that face most discrimination in this country. The respondents are responding to what is given to them. Not sure if I am making this clear. Anyways, I did not go to school to learn or study my race, I did not spend years researching about discrimination, I just face it every day here in PA. That's all. And I know how to respond to it when I see it.
I hope one day things get better, for Asians, Latinos and Blacks. Until then, I will try educate and teach my kids about diversity and the importance of getting to know people from other countries, cultures, races, etc.
Posted by Aaron, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Sep 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm
Allow me to cut to the chase, here:
I have been, and will continue to be, supportive of the Asians in this country. I especially support the tiger moms that make their kids so successful. However, I refuse to listen to this victim nonsense.
I am white, you may be brown or yellow or black or red, etc. I could care leass what your notion of your color is. The thing that bites my ass is your assertiion that color, per se, is determinative of success, in this country. I could provide many, many stories of white failures, and brown and yellow successes.
This country is so incredbily tolerant, that it even allows me to openy support Asians, without a threat of retribution. Try doing that in Japan, for example. Japan is the most racist nation on this planet, in case you don't know. Yet, I still the support the Japanese spirit of drive and perfection, even if they hate me for soaking in their hot springs.
Iran is threatening to execute a convert to Christianity. No surprise, becasue Islam is an intolerant relgion.
The USA is hyper tolerant. To a fault.
We should be celebrating competence, not color or victim status. We should be fighting back against victim status, especially including white victim status.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm
@Aaron: My British husband would wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Japan. He lived there for 2 years and described it as very lonely. He said at a superficial level people were cordial and "nice," but they excluded him and anyone who was not Japanese from every aspect of personal life. He then dated a woman that was half Japanese and half Korean, who was also an outsider. She struggled with her identity, as she was not welcomed into Japanese life and made to feel inferior.
I find it distasteful that people don't spend more time emphasizing all the good that we have available in our area instead of complaining about how bad it is! I have travelled much and find this area, in particular, to be so progressive. Maybe we can improve, but let's focus on the positive!!!!!!!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm
Ann Marie, I wish you the best, sincerely, in your daily dealings here & in teaching your kids. It's so hard for people to understand when they haven't experienced it - I remind myself of this all of the time when I'm uncomfortable w/the subject.
I totally understood No Party's point re what she experienced at the park. I think she was doing what I've quickly learned to do in EPA - judge behavior. My neighborhood was much worse when I moved here & I wanted to better understand its dynamics, so I picked up some pointers from trained observers on paying attention to behavior.
Once the focus is off ethnicity, it's amazing what one can learn when observing behavior. In my case, I watch behavior for safety reasons, generally. I do this all over, not just in my town, whether I'm at an ATM or having a cup of coffee.
Perhaps as the non-Asian Palo Altans come to terms w/the increase in Asian population in their schools, observing behavior will assist them in integrating the new reality, & hopefully, the Asians will do the same.
I've learned that after potential threats have been assessed as very low, the rest is gravy! I hope that this will be the reality for your kids - all children deserve that future.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm
@ Hmmm: I liked your post because you not only were paraphrased and "listened" to Ann Marie but to those of us that had differing opinions.
I liked your bit about observing for safety reasons. While I am very blessed financially now, I actually came from a very poor family. My mother was handicapped because of a massive berry aneurysm when I was four. It was she and I. Yet, I had the benefit of a private education (all girls prep school right next door to an all boys prep school) financed by my grandparents. Sounds like a blessing, but it was not. I lived in a terrible hole of an apartment in an undesirable area of a North Bay community and went to school with very privileged kids that teased me and threw orange peels at me and made jokes about my mom's big old American car. No matter. Wasn't so pleasant then and probably should not have happened, but it did make me stronger.
My point in all of that was I lived in a dump of an apartment and there were unsavory characters about. I HAD to think on my feet at times. Maybe this made me a little more judgmental, but trust me, it wasn't rooted in racism. It was rooted in survival. Today, that paranoia is still with me. I worry so much about my kids and those instincts still kick in even though we live in Palo Alto and let's face it- It is pretty safe. I even subscribe to an alarm service and have an English Mastiff to help make me feel safe.
So, Ann Marie and everyone else: Just understand that I really have absolutely nothing against people of varying ethnicities. I am a class snob, which is rather ironic isn't it?
Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm
@Ann Marie, didn't Obama go to John Thompson's (Symantec) Woodside estate (before going to Atherton to Sheryl Sandberg's estate?) I thought I understood John Thompson is black. I thought he used to live in Los Altos.
btw as long as everyone is proclaiming caucasians have discriminated against them, I wish to note that I am caucasian and I have been discriminated against by asians in a multitude of forms.
Posted by Asian-American Mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm
@No Party at Pardee... thanks! I'm glad you got a good chuckle out of that one.
Here's another funny story... this one is about my husband, who is Asian, discriminating against Asian seniors.
We moved to California from the East Coast, where the older Asian population is typically comprised of 1st generation immigrants. Most of them speak very limited English.
Fresh from our move, we decided to buy some buns at Ranch 99. My husband placed a tray of carefully-selected buns at the checkout counter and waited to pay for our goods. An older Chinese lady came by and started poking through our tray of buns. My husband, who doesn't speak a stitch of Chinese, was paralyzed. He had no idea what to do to stop the lady from taking our buns! He assumed that the lady only spoke Chinese.
Finally, it was our turn to pay. My husband smiled at the lady and gently moved the tray of buns toward the register. The lady was mortified when she realized that she was manhandling my husband's buns (haha). She apologized profusely to my husband and, in perfect English, said, "Well, why didn't you say anything to me?!"
We now know never to assume that older Asians cannot speak English.
@neighbor, I am so sorry to hear that you have been discriminated against by Asians in a multitude of forms.
Sigh - If everyone could just get along, wouldn't that be great?
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm
Asian American Mom!! I am such a huge fan. I was supposed to be watching a great British film relating to the first women's strike. Instead, I grabbed the laptop and checked in on here only to find your bun story. I started laughing out loud at the most inappropriate time.
Could you consider writing a blog with these stories??? It's not just the content of the stories, but the way you write them!!
Posted by RussianMom, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm
Thanks all for sharing sad and fun stories. I probably wouldn't be friend with Ann Marie for the very different reason. It's not race, status, education, but pure attitude. It's enough good people to ignore somebody negative, it's enough happy moments to forget sadness. I am trying to teach that at home. It's a self distracting process to blame others. Try to see why and what kids/parents are welcomed. We all have our moments, we all come pre-packed with experiences, but smile goes a long way.
UCLA opened additional spots for African American kids 2 years ago because some of the statistics show the gap. Caucasion and Asian kids were overrepresented with harden acceptance criteria. Do I need to break a friendship with my dear black girlfriend because her kids have an advantage over mine? how ridiculus is that?! Do I feel sorry for a transfer kid who burglarized my car because he had a tuff childhood? Sorry - no.
When we left Motherland as refugee, government gave us $120 per person and kept all our properties, personal and memorable stuff from generations. Did it leave a bitter feeling? Yes. I can marinade myself in the loss for years to come. I choose to rebuild my littlev'family history here for my kids. It was not easy and I am full of stories. Am I happy? Yes. Am I naive to think that PA is paradise? No. But it's a GREAT PLACE to live. Just switch your priorities and actually look for good rather than bad things in life.
Posted by 1st generation Chinese immigrant, a member of the Fairmeadow School community, on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:35 pm
Well said RussianMom.
As a 1st generation immigrant from China, I had both good and bad moments here. But one thing is clear-- this country offers so many opportunities to people, regardless of race, country of origin as long as you are willing to work hard with a winner's attitude. So quit complaining. If someone like me who 20 yrs ago came here speaking limited English, having no family/ friend to turn to can survive and is living in PA in my own house, why couldn't anyone else do that?
Posted by resident, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:36 pm
What I still want to know is that with the demographic changes, does this make performing well in school more competitive and difficult? What is the learning environment in school like now with the demographic changes? Do teachers find more diverse voices in the classroom, as in ideas?
Or are children more sheltered?
Do all the Asian kids just hang out with each other? Do the white kids just hang out with each other?
It'd be great if the Weekly could do a story on that. :)
Posted by gunn student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Sep 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm
I think it's dumb to assert that your skin color determines your fate.
There are so many kids at my school who are minorities (black, hispanic) who do extremely well for themselves, are completely accepted and tolerated, and are going through the same academic and college related challenges that all the asian and white students are.
most of it has to do with their presentation - are they approachable, are they friendly, are they kind, are they MOTIVATED? These aren't racial things, these are student things.
When you see someone who is a minority and looks like a gang member sometimes you come to prejudgements. "This is typical". When you see a non-minority like white or asian in that gangster type clothing or attitude, you think "How weird" perhaps.
But we have to step back and see that there are white, asian, black, and hispanic gang members as well as white, asian, black, and hispanic UCLA graduates... it's not the skin tone, it's the individual.
I know from my own anecdotal experience that there are so many smart, hard working, students at gunn who are hispanic and black. I am friends with many of them. My friend group is not 'separated by race'. That's an afterthought, and a useless one.
Posted by student, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 30, 2011 at 7:23 am
Gunn student, you have a valid point about skin color not being determinative of success or lack thereof, but some of what you say is naive.
Statistically, the vast majority gang members are black and hispanic. No one wants to hear it, but it is a fact. There are white and asian gang members, but comparatively this is a really small number! Plus, my school seems to have many more transfer kids than your school, and call me stupid, but I know which ones to be friends with and which ones to avoid and it may have started out by the colors that they are partial to, but evolved into a deeper reason. Menlo Atherton High kids have it way worse. There it is obvious who the gang kids are, if they have even stayed in school that long.
We have it pretty good, but it is unfair to act like we all can get along, at least when it comes to the bad/ gang kids. Would you want to hang out with a Sureno gang member who in spite of his affiliation seemed like a nice guy? No thanks. Could end up getting shot just because- not by him but someone who has an issue with him over something stupid. I have better things to do with my time.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:19 am
@ Asian-American Mom: I noticed that one can start a new blog on this site. I hope that you will think about it. Would love to read a story a day from you. I have a sneaking suspicion that you have many!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:56 am
RussianMom, guess what? You got to leave & start over somewhere fresh, as difficult as that was. I am very happy that was the case. Ann Marie doesn't get to. There is a HUGE difference between those who've come here of their own volition & welcome the change & those who deal w/institutionalized racism every day in their own country because their ancestors were sent here against their will. Your descendants here will be able to blend in here in a way that Ann Marie's won't, thus hers will most likely always be subjected to mistreatment based on race even though her family has been here for many years.
I've heard & read much dismissive commentary from recent immigrants who refuse to understand what it's like for African Americans here. I've also witnessed racism from some of those recent immigrants, toward African Americans. They refuse to acknowledge the reality of our cruel history toward blacks & that some of that reality has still exists, in very dangerous form.
Perhaps you should stop comparing your attitude w/Ann Marie's for just a little while, which allows you to trump hers. Perhaps if you tried to *understand,* if not the history of institutionalized racism still prevalent in this country, then at least her experience, you'll be willing to stop feeling superior & allow yourself a deeper understanding of what she's describing. That was what worked for me as I had to come to terms that all of the civil rights work in the last century didn't go as far as I'd thought.
Frankly, the dismissive tone many here many have taken towards her is indicative of the fear that perhaps she's right about this wonderful country we live in. Perhaps while we have good lives here, black Americans born here suffer from racism & continue to be murdered because of their race: Web Link
Honestly, I would truly prefer to read stories such as yours, listen to my spouse's stories about moving here & my father's triumphs at emigrating here, becoming an American, succeeding in college & grad school, because those are uplifting stories. But one of my father's most disconcerting moments here, as a political refugee, was when he saw a bunch of men who were chasing down a black man who'd stolen some food. They were armed.
It's so much easier to ignore Palo Alto's recent history of redlining & mistreating blacks & Asians & say that Ann Marie's just being negative.
I'm glad that you're creating a good life here. Ann Marie deserves that for herself & her kids - & she deserved it long before you came here, because she was born a US citizen & has done NOTHING to deserve being mistreated. Her "negative" attitude is an honest one & I suspect she has a less "negative" but just as honest side - it's just not relevant to these posts.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm
@Hmmm: I think your criticism of Russian mom was way off base. Ann Marie comes across as someone who has lived her life as a victim and continues to do so. No one is ignoring the history or plight of the Africans that were brought here against their will. We're talking about the people that are here generations later, so far removed from the tragedy and we're comparing those of that group that are doing great things and making their way compared to those that are complaining about the unfairness and using those complaints and excuses to hold them back.
You have a choice in life no matter where you come from or what your race: You can focus on the repression and obstacles and complain or you can do everything in your power to rise above. As I said, I was discriminated against for being from a poor handicapped single mother on food stamps, as I was different from all the rich kids at my private school. It wasn't fun, but it was my reality and I "fought" for my place academically. It really is not that different.
Russian mom had to go through her own struggles and I greatly admire her attitude and her fortitude. Ann Marie could learn a lot from her. In fact, Ann Marie just needs to grow up and you need to stop enabling those people that don't want to accept responsibility for their decisions or circumstances.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm
Their circumstances are still dictated by racism & lack of choice. It's odd that you, who has so much education, refuses to acknowledge the role that CURRENT racism plays in the lives of black Americans, whose families have been here for hundreds of years & therefore have experienced collective racism (the total opposite of what I've experienced in EPA).
My criticism of RussianMom's perspective is apt; I admire both RussianMom & Ann Marie for their commitment to their families & for their strength. But even RussianMom's words are telling - she believes that black kids trying to get into UCLA have an unfair advantage over her kids. Really? Those black kids are AMERICANS who've been here for generations, the majority of who still live in underserved communities w/poverty - hence opening up more slots for them.
This country LOVES to focus on the successes of immigrants. It's just as important, if not more so, to focus on those underserved & marginalized in this country, where that reduction of choice begins - & often ends. It's the underbelly we prefer not to study & we resent its reminder. 0
My criticism of RussianMom's perspective is also justified because it's indicative of what many of the more recently arrived in the US love to do - point the finger at African Americans & further marginalize them due to the recently arrived folks' lack of knowledge of our history here & the current treatment of African Americans. It's all too easy to blame Ann Marie's attitude as "negative" instead of paying attention to what may be accurate & that we simply don't know about.
Ann Marie may sound like a victim because she is one & is honest about that. She's also thoughtful, intelligent & adds a valuable perspective. It's not her only identity & I'm not enabling that aspect of her identity - but I am telling the truth about this country - the recent truth - & in this area, it's not always happy endings for minorities. My hope is that won't be the case for people posting here. But to dismiss them because we don't like their attitude is a mistake - there is a lot for us to learn from those we prefer to dismiss. We'd be wiser people to pay attention.
We might have big dogs that guard us physically, but sometimes we need to make those dogs back off from guarding our minds & hearts so that we can listen & learn.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm
I agree with you.
I am not excusing the terrible past, but black people being brought here as slaves were not the only people who have been treated badly in history.
What about early Christians who had to fight to the death against animals or soldiers for sport for the Romans?
What about the jews who suffered under the holocaust?
What about Irish catholics who were thrown out of their homes by Protestant foreigners and basically left to starve?
There are many atrocities in history.
The present African American people in this country are not unique in their history as being cruel and unjust.
What are the rest of us expected to do? Are we supposed to give them special treatment as an apology? If we give them special treatment, will it really make amends? How long must this special treatment as an apology take, 100 years, 500 years?
Remember, MLK said he had a dream that people would be treated the same regardless of the color of their skin. It is about time that we started doing it.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm
@No Party at Pardee - I will stop trying to explain to you how hard it is for Blacks and Latinos to live here in PA. I will stop telling you that we face discrimination all the time here in PA. I will stop telling you that my kids do face discrimination as well. I will stop to say all those things, because you are not listening and I cannot make you understand. Like I said before, sometimes you have to experience racial discrimination to understands it.
I wish they did not have to face bullying and discrimination at our schools, but I cannot control that. I can only speak the truth and hope that others who also face discrimination in our city start speaking too.
@resident - Kids do not mix in middle and high school. They start getting into groups in the end of elementary school years. The are more sheltered than one can imagine. Just visit our schools during lunch time and you will see what I am saying. Also, the AP classes have very few Blacks and Latinos. Our schools are not doing much to close this gap. Blacks and Latinos from PA are not in those AP classes, as well as Blacks and Latinos from EPA.
We have a problem and if we try to say we don't, we will never be able to fix it. Not everyone has the same chances in this country. I will not pretend that all is fair, because it is not. I am not a victim, I am a fighter. I fight for acceptance, and for the end of racial and social discrimination. I fight hard everyday to raise my kids with dignity and kindness.
@Humm - Thank you so much for all your postings. I really appreciated that you can understand what I am saying, and I hope some others take time to read and re-read your postings. Thank you!!!
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm
Hmmmm: To be clear, I am not suggesting that current racism does not play a role in the lives of African Americans. I am suggesting, that to an extent, African Americans can control how much that racism rules their lives. There are opportunities and at certain points in one's life there are choices that can significantly alter one's fate. It's certainly not easy when one is dealing with poverty or instability in the family unit or gang violence.
Further, I do resent SOME African Americans for the affirmative action practices of major universities. I emphasize the word "some". I have no problem with an African American student of equal qualifications getting a spot over a white student in order to contribute to the diversity of the school. What I have a problem with is that this preference is entirely race based. My ex husband is remarried to a white woman that has two boys who are half black. They grew up in his household. He is a doctor and does quite well for himself. The boys have had many privileges. The oldest was offered admission into a lot of colleges that he likely would not have been, because, as my ex put it, he is considered black for purposes of admission. I hardly think this boy was what the universities had in mind when they allocated these spots. I'm sure they wanted to give an opportunity for a kid from say East Palo Alto that fought his way to the top academically in spite of many obstacles.
The rules we have in place, to some extent, do create resentment, because of the ambiguity contained within.
p.s. Hmmmm- You and I may not see eye to eye on some of these issues, but I am enamored with how you construct and articulate your position. You are a great persuasive writer. I just am not sold on the position. <smile>
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm
Ann Marie: If the bullying is that terrible, for God sake, go find an attorney and initiate a private lawsuit for whatever torts are applicable- assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc. Ask the police department to step in if there are charges such as misdemeanor harrassment, etc. available. Wage war against the parents of the bullies and see if you can sue the school district for vicarious liability. (They may have heightened protection against such suits. Not my area. Don't know.) But you should do something. Complaining to us is not going to fix the problem, and if it is in fact as bad as you say, you have a lot of options.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm
I have been at elementary school at lunchtimes and I have not seen the groups that you mention. I agree I don't hang around middle and high school campuses at lunch time.
In my home this week we have had one African American and one mixed race friend brought over by my kids. These two were the only friends over this week. These were both middle and high school students.
If there are not enough African Americans and Latinos in AP classes then whose fault is it? Is it the schools, or is it the parents of these students? I realise that some of the Tinsley students may not be from homes where parents are well educated and able to help as well as some of the Palo Alto students, but we have minorities in Palo Alto also. Is it because the families of these students are not paying for after school tutors like many of the Palo Alto AP students do? I believe that a successful AP student needs to have family support to do well. Are the bright African American students and Latino students getting the family support that an AP student needs? Should there be special after school tutoring at PAUSD expense for African American and Latino students to do APs? Would that really be fair?
I do read your posts and do understand where you are coming from. I grew up in an area where I was the outsider, not in looks but in accent, culture and to some extent religion. It was up to me to aggressivly mix in. With the majority of people I succeeded, but there were some who never accepted me.
I read your post and answered your comments. Please read my last post again and answer mine.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm
@No Party at Pardee - If you are against Affirmative Action, then, please, tell us how do you feel about Legacies? More than 30% of spaces in top schools goes to legacies. Harvard accepts 40 percent and Princeton accepts 35 percent of legacies. How do you feel about schools who accept students in place of other who has a better scholastic record, because they are children or grand children of someone who graduated from the school, and who can write big checks? Please elaborate.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm
Ann Marie:I am sorry to deflate your chip, but some of us have nonjo-white kids ( hispanic and black, specifically) in our school system..and we have seen nothing but good in this district.
I am a female "of a certain age" and faced discrimination for being female my whole life. But, as No Party said, we "... can control how much that racism rules..." our lives ( or sexism). You can teach your kids that their blood is the same color as everyone else's, now get back to work and deal with it, head high, or you can teach your kids to get a really big chip on their shoulders, become angry and bitter and blaming, and not take responsibility for THEIR behaviors and actions.
Every one of us faces "isms" of some sort in our lives,..be it color, gender, weight, accent, political or religious leanings..whatever. We have to move forward, not get stuck in the quagmire of bitterness.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm
Anne Marie: A private school has the right to accept whomever it wishes, including assuring that their bottom line of donations continue...that is the bottom line. Get over it. It is simply another "-ism" that those of us who face reality accept. Now, get back to work and move up in the world on your own.
I, also, really hate affirmative action. It caused others to assume I wasn't REALLY as good as my classmates and I wasn't REALLY good enough to get my scholorships...that I had gotten in to the school and given scholarships because I was Hispanic. I knew I was every bit as good, but it rankles to this day how defamatory it is to think that somehow, because of the color of my skin, I need "extra" in this world. Somehow, my skin color and background and name means I am not as smart or capable, so I need "help".
I would be absolutely delighted to see the day finally come when each of us is judged by our abilities, our "content" , not our color ( or gender)...We are far from it, far too entrenched in a bitterness and anger which erodes the ability to just pick yourself up and move forward, making some of us get stuck on dependence or stuck on excuses.
Like a drug, at some point you just have to "say no". I hope your kids have moved forward.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm
To address your question Ann Marie: I don't know where you get your statistics from, but do legacy admissions occur- yes. The truth is, "Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown and Stanford — which this year reported acceptance rates of 7.1 percent, 8.7 percent, 18 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively — all declined to provide information," (on legacy admission statistics). . It is thought that the admission rate is about 1:3 for legacy students, which is much higher than the 1:10 or worse for some of the elites. Yale admits that legacy students make up between 13-16% of its incoming freshman class. Web Link
Nonetheless, I would respond by saying that these schools are private schools, and I suppose they can admit students however they see fit and we can choose not to apply if we don't care for their practices. My daughter will be applying to Cornell next year. She goes to high school with the Hasting's daughter. The mom went to Cornell. Am I going to worry whether the Hasting's kid applies? Am I going to worry that she won't get a spot because of the influx of legacy kids? Certainly not. If she gets in, great. If she doesn't, there are a lot of great schools to consider, and she will get a great education at any one of them.
Posted by No Party at Pardee, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm
@Perspective: I totally agree! I wish that if anything we made provisions for kids coming from poor families, irrespective of race. I thought it was great when Stanford made the provision for no tuition fees for students who were admitted that could show their family income was less than $60,000 - though I actually thought they should adjust the number based on where in the country the kids were coming from. In any case, that seemed like a meaningful concession that leveled the playing field for otherwise fully qualified students.
I think the difference is that it doesn't change the requirements for admission. It just gives really bright kids an opportunity they might not otherwise exercise because they are afraid of leaving school with lots of debt.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Sep 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm
Resident, rather than address all of your points re people who've been mistreated by the powers that be, I will say this: African Americans who've suffered here suffered more recently than, say, the Christians mistreated by the Romans (duh). It's VERY recent history & it's still going on.
Many of the others who've suffered to whom you refer have the privilege of blending in - if not those who suffered, but their descendants. African Americans don't have that benefit & therefore, their assimilation is still rife w/mistreatment.
It's not about giving African Americans special treatment - how about if we start w/truly equal, decent treatment, from our institutions to individuals? Ann Marie's point is that doesn't happen enough in PA, so clearly, this area has a long way to go. Refuting her pov continues the denial.
Some of my takeaway from our current times & how we view African Americans is that on some level, we feel like we've done enough for them. People focus on that or jump to the other question, like yours - what do they want? Special treatment? Heck, truly equal treatment would be mind blowing enough - how come I'm the only one who's suggested it?
Obviously, this truly equal treatment should also be extended to other ethnic minorities. But this country, taken from its natives & worked by slaves & other ethnic minorities, only allows the privilege? right? favor? of extending truly equal treatment to those who assimilate better, often marked by the ability to do so based on how they look.
No Party - I respect the story of your childhood & it's obviously left its mark. It's clear to me how many strong women on this thread & that is impressive. But you know, you "pass for good" as it was said about light skinned blacks passing for white. You've made it - academically & financially - & as a woman. You might, like so many, have your internal scars, but you "pass" because you're not black. You don't have that extra, ongoing barrier that you can't change, & that you can't perceive how it's controlled. I've had a Stanford-educated African American attorney who even now in middle age still gets hassled because she's black. She doesn't have a "negative" attitude, she doesn't invite it, but it still happens.
I wish I understood why people on this thread are so quick to criticize Ann Marie rather than ask questions & criticize those who've mistreated her. Do we TRULY feel that America had done enough for African Americans that they aren't deserving of our empathy when they are mistreated in our midst & have told us about it?
Maybe there will be some side benefits of more Asians living in Palo Alto, benefits that aren't so obvious to us white people, but have to do w/not being the majority in the schools.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2011 at 7:20 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Another argument for eliminating any racial identification from these pages. Hmmm, do you think you are the only one put upon? We all have something. Live in the world you are in, not the world you wish it was. Embrace those who would be your friend, ignore those who are not. 50 years ago segregation was outlawed. Some have gone on, some have held back. Anyone looking for an insult will find it. If you are looking for a law to make you white, forget it. If you are looking for a law to make me black, ditto.
Posted by RussianMom, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2011 at 9:02 am
Everybody sharing opinions - thank you. that's what make PA a great place to live.
I am against EQUALITY because I lived in communist regime half of my life. I don't believe in closing the gap, because it's an artificial process. What I believe is that EVERY person need to try to achieve to the best of his ability. How fun will be here for me to complain why I am not an attorney? Why? Just because of my language limitations and many other reasons. Not everybody needs to be in Ivy legue universities. I agree 100% that it's PRIVATE.Legacy? So what? More fortunate helps least fortunate. But least fortunate must be accepted because they are dedicated, they are achievers, not just based on the fact that they are least fortunate. NOBODY OWNS YOU ANYTHING! Nobody should take away a dream from a person as well. But we all have very different dreams and very different ways of achieving those dreams.
Ann Marie, it's hard to raise kids, period. Doesn't matter who we are or from what background we came. Don't pass the bitterness to those young adults. They will find their way, happiness and friends. Just stop comparing. Let's them find the way and support them along the way. I can't judge the rest of the world, but here all are welcomed if they are pleasant.
Hmmmm, and what about double standards?! Read my email re UCLA acceptance. Nobody have advantage if not academically.
Posted by Ann Marie, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm
@RussianMom - I agree that it is graet that we all are sharing our opinions, even if we don't agree with each other. I find it very positive to openly talk about how we experience the world in different ways.
About everyone having a fair chance here in America, I disagree. When kids are raised in poor neighborhoods, with poor schooling, they don't have the same chances and opportunities of those who are raised learning that they have many choices in life. Some people face so many issues as children, that sometimes they end up with very low self-esteem, not believing in themselves. And we cannot forget that racial stereotypes get in peoples ways all the time. Some folks are stronger emocionally than others, but not everyone can fight to change the system.
Anyways, I like reading all your postings. We often don't talk openly about some of those issues with people from different backgrounds.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Oct 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm
Walter - I am white & don't feel put upon at all. In fact, I have been very moved by these posts & it's opened up my heart & mind even further - I find that invaluable. I don't know what it's like to grow up black in America, or anywhere. Or grow up in a communist regime. I'm lucky to have 2 close friends who grew up under communism who answer my questions & have taught me so much. I don't need more laws. While women are still 2nd class citizens in many ways, I recognize my privelege. I'd say my background was a bit more like No Party's - private school, financially disadvantaged but lots of education.
I've had the privilege of learning about African American history in high school & college & now live in a city that was incorporated mainly by blacks. I've always been interested in the African American history of California. As a woman, I have found that a lot of it dovetails w/civil rights for women. I also believe that those treated the worst in a society are indicative of many things & I've learned to listen to their complaints, even when it's easier to turn back & join in w/the white middle class that is more of my milieu in many ways. I've paid a price for not always joining in w/my milieu, & that's given me a taste of what the underclass & many ethnic minorities face every day. So I'm a world-straddler, as odd as its been a lot of the time.
Ann Marie - thank you for your comments & email address. I will write to you. Here is my email address - anyone on this thread is welcome to write. Spam or attacks, however, will be blocked: iamhmmm (at) that company Carol just left...yahoo.
I think that the multi-ethnic posters on this thread all have very valuable opinions. Whether or not I agree w/those opinions doesn't detract from their value or my respect. If I'd been raised in RussianMom's world I might share her worldview, for example. But I haven't, so I hope that my respect & willingness to read & try to understand can suffice. That's what I've been asking of others - that they listen to Ann Marie & try to understand her real world experiences.
Posted by some guy, a resident of another community, on Oct 2, 2011 at 8:04 am
Some of the comments in this thread remind me of a person I used to work with, who was an immigrant from China. He saw every imagined slight as a racial attack. For example, if he didn't get what he considered to be a good table at a restaurant, it was automatically because he was a minority. But then, he would talk about how if his daughter dated a black guy, he would cut her head off with a samurai sword. It seemed to me that he was projecting his own racism on others. He certainly wasn't going to put up with others treating him the same way he treats them. I see minority people make a huge big deal about being minorities, meanwhile, as a white person, I don't really care.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2011 at 11:54 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The thread is about racism and the importance given to race. RACE DOESN'T MATTER!!! This whole debate is picking fly specks out of chicken poop. If I want ribs I go to a rib shop; if I want watercress sandwiches I go to a salad bar. I was serious as a crutch in suggesting the elimination of any racial debates here since, in the end, all behavior is personal.
Posted by HawkeyePierce, a resident of Stanford, on Oct 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm
It's takes a white person to say that race doesn't matter. Then, there are other white people who have their eyes and ears open and know that it matters - maybe it shouldn't, but it does. If it didn't, human history would be different.
Posted by GreyArea, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm
I am proud to say that I am the only Caucasian in my family and the classes I participate in are all comprised mostly of "minorities" as well. I usually don't even notice it. But when I do, I am reminded how - generally speaking - open our community is to racial diversity.
Palo Alto may still have quite a few racists. But it is far better than most other places... Let's keep improving, though, setting the best example we can for the rest of the world to follow.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2011 at 5:19 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Can you directly correlate race with income, education, public service, private charity, general niceness? General correlations, perhaps, but not direct. So if your generalization masks the specific then you are crippled in your relationships. I prefer to make up my own mind.
Posted by Colonel, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 6, 2011 at 10:13 am
"It's takes a white person to say that race doesn't matter."
Well, it is what people say and do that makes race matter. Race needn't matter.
Stop teaching at home and at school that it matters. Stop calling out how important race is. One step would be to stop including a forced indication of race on government forms, job applications and education applications. This race selection question teaches everyone that important decision makers think race matters. (Not to mention that there's precious little biology backing the correctness of our selection of which race we "are").
These forms are trying to use race as a proxy for adversity. That is a lazy and harmful convention. Someone who dealt with poverty, an uneducated and broken home, drugs, violence, verbal, emotional or physical abuse, little exposure to proper English and still learned something is impressive. Someone who's xxx-American and learned something isn't impressive solely on that account.
When people stop saying and doing things that make race matter, race won't matter.