Thursday, October 12, 2006

Plus ca change: Mt. Lebanon community board not going to remedy effects of township's racist history

From this morning's Post-Gazette South section:
"For decades, it was an unwritten rule that many minorities, including African Americans and Jews, could not buy houses in certain neighborhoods, according to Ruth Reidbord, one of the first community relations board members in Mt. Lebanon. Even real estate brokers said that, if they showed homes to minorities, they were threatened, said Elaine Wittlin, who believes she was one of the first to ignore such threats."

"So, in 1966, town convened a Community Relations Board to promote a feeling of openness.

'Community groups and residents can work together to reduce the barriers that sometimes separate population groups,' Mt. Lebanon Manager Stephen Feller said.

Has it worked?"

No.

Today,
"[i]n the municipality of 33,017 people, 31,766 are listed as Caucasians, 202 as black, 767 as Asians and 263 people are of Hispanic or Latino background, according to the 2000 census."
Check my math, but I think that means that fewer than 1% of the town's population is African-American. Just over 2% is Asian, and it looks like that figure includes both south Asian and east Asian populations. The Hispanic/Latino figure is consistent with Pittsburgh's small overall Hispanic/Latino population, but its size relative to the African-American community is striking.

"[A]at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the municipal building, 710 Washington Road, at a forum titled "Where Are We Going? Where Have We Been?" Five people will address quality of life issues for mixed-race families, people with disabilities, lesbians and gays, teens and people who practice less common religions."


Still to be appointed: A community-based board of people charged with reaching out to members of under-represented communities who don't live in Mt. Lebanon, but whose addition to the community would make it a more accepting and much more truly diverse place.

Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06285/729149-55.stm

And more relevant background, also from the Post-Gazette:

Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_south/20010221sali3.asp

[Cross-posted at Pittsblog]
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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does all this talk of forced diversity absolve you of your so-called white-guilt? Have you ever lived in a truly diverse community? I grew up in a community that is 60% caucasian, and I can tell you true diversity isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Nobody in 2006 is keeping anyone out of Mt. Lebo! If you can afford the house and the high taxes, welcome!

Now let's see if you will allow "diverse" opinions on your blog!

October 12, 2006 9:56 PM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

Talk of "forced diversity" and "white guilt" isn't coming from me.

Have I ever lived in a truly diverse community?

Sure.

For 9 years I lived in Oakland, California, which at the time was about 40% caucasian. My kids were born there. (Actually, one was born at an Oakland hospital, and one was born at a Berkeley hospital.)

The academics in the public schools were mediocre at best, which was a real problem. And the resources in the public schools were pitiful, though the cause was California's property tax system, not the town itself. But the social environment in our elementary school was far better -- because of the diversity -- than what we've encountered in Mt. Lebanon, and we loved the city and our neighborhood.

Oh, and overall tax bill in California (property and income taxes), as a percentage of our income, was considerably higher than it is in Pennsylvania.

October 13, 2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Mt. Lebanon is somewhat diverse compared to where I live now. One thing I don't like about "moving out to the country" is that everyone here is white. I've seen one Islamic family in the neighborhood, and that's it.

In Mt. Lebanon, there were a fair number of Asian and Indian families. My next door neighbor was black, and it never seemed to be an issue.

October 15, 2006 3:30 PM  

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