Diversity/safety/quality community in St. Louis? (Kansas City, St. Charles: fit in, low crime)
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My husband and I are a mixed couple black/white and live in KC - which we love awesome place to live, very accepting and in our suburb its very safe with great schools. For job reasons, we will be relocating to St. Louis, have three children (preschool thru high school) and I'm doing research on Stl communities and feeling a little frustrated. Are there any integrated neighborhoods that are safe with great schools? We don't need 50/50, but more than 2% of one or another racial group would be nice.
If not, and we focus on the western suburbs (like Chesterfield) where I know the good schools are - would we feel ostracized by our neighborhoods - I know that every neighborhood has it's issues. But have been blessed to live in communities (California, Chicago, KC) where people get to know you before they judge you. Can we find that in St. Louis and still feel like we have a family friendly community for our kids?
I honestly think that St. Louis has gotten with the rest of the civilized world and is a very good place to live for people of all races and certainly eaqually as good as Kansas City, though I do agree with you that K.C. is a great place. Unfortunately, as you must know all too well, sadly, we will probably not get away from discrimination entirely (at least in our lifetime). The area you mentioned would be great for you and your children, as will quite a lot of other areas in St. Louis. I live in that area, raised my children here too. You will love it.
It depends on what is truly more important to you... the safety of your family (crime rate), resale value of your home, the quality of the schools, or the racial mix of the neighborhood.
If you want okay safety, mediocre schools, iffy resale/appreciation, but close to a 50/50 racial mix, then go with North St. Louis County burbs of Hazelwood, Ferguson, Florissant, Spanish Lake etc.. There are some good elementary schools in Hazelwood and FF districts, but you have to do your homework. If you're willing to go with more like a 75/25 mix, with really good schools and a bit safer neighborhoods with okay resale value, then I'd suggest Maryland Heights (which is Pattonville school district). If you're looking for McMansions and upscale neighborhood with great resale value, low crime and "cream of the crop" schools, the sad truth is you will have to sacrifice the racial diversity thing to get that in St. Louis. You'd be lucky to find 90/10 or even 95/5 in West St. Louis or St. Charles County.
Myself, I'd focus on the best education for my kids and a safe neighborhood to raise them in. Your kids will learn the value of diversity, tolerance and cultural pluralism from the two of you and your extended family. IMHO, if you focus on racial mix as a deciding factor on where to live above all else, you're teaching your kids exactly the WRONG message; namely that the most important thing to focus on in life is what color you are, and needing to "fit in" based on race. Again IMHO, what you should teach them instead is to strive to be the best they can be and, that the most important things in life are being proud of who you are and what you accomplish. If you can afford West County, go for it! Tell your kids to work hard in school, study, go to the best college they can afford, and make something of themselves. If they happen to be mocha... that's great, but that shouldn't be THE defining characteristic of who they are or what they strive to be.
Ken - I'd agree with you 100% except that I had a co-worker, former Northwestern basketball coach, who was shot dead 7 years ago walking down the street with his young son in a quiet suburban neighborhood by a crazed supremecist type with an axe to grind against all minorities - that day the man shot and killed 6 minorities in one night. The area where my co-worker lived was a nice community but known to be targeted by fringe groups. Personally, I'd be happy in a community regardless of race, as long as I don't have to worry about someone trying to kill my children or burn a cross on my lawn. I posted a message about St. Louis because I have friends who work in civil rights law, and they all mentioned that St. Louis has its "issues" - yes, discrimination is every where, but some cities/neighborhoods are much, much more polarized than others.
I can't teach my children to ignore the color of their skin (nor do I want to) it's an important part of who they are - it doesn't define them in our household, but they need to understand how that world has worked for thousands of years. I don't want to live in a color blind world (how boring...) I want to live in a world where color is embraced!
Welcome to the St. Louis side of the state! I agree with most of what Ken is saying, and certainly what you are saying, Susan. The Parkway District "south" (Parkway South High School), and particularly the Ballwin/Manchester area, might be a good place to start if not looking into some of the other districts mentioned. St. Louis City itself does have great schools, to the surprise of many. The Metro High School offers a great mix experience, and is one of the best (I think it is rated best actually) in the State. Don't overlook some great experiences of City living. As you'll know, you'll find racism and discrimination everywhere, and St. Louis can be a hotbed in various circles. I have found warmth and acceptance in Webster Groves [and if you are United Methodist, I can recommend a warm, embracing church consisting of mixed families there]. Kirkwood too. North County, as Ken mentioned, will be more 50/50. Connect with an organization called "FOCUS St. Louis" and its Bridges program. That might be a good resource for you. There is a staff person who coordinates the Bridges program, which enables people of varied heritages/race to enjoy friendship, go to each others' homes for dinner and conversation, etc. Best wishes to you!!
There are only certain neighborhoods that are culturally diverse. I'll name a few: certain parts of south St. Louis City, University City (particularly the "Loop" area), and cerain parts of north St. Louis County (yes, Florissant is somewhat diverse to answer an earlier question). Depending on which spouse is white, there are certain areas where that spouse may not feel comfortable living, to be blunt. North city, near the downtown area, has been revitalized and is quite nice; but it's still considered "urban," which means it is about 85% minority. That's not a problem for some, but could be an issue for others. But, for the most part, many people in our area are not judgemental of interracial couples, but the city is not free of racial tension.
Yes Florissant is racially diverse. You may want to consider the area along N. Hwy 64 (lindbergh blvd) between New Halls Ferry and Old Jamestown Rd. Its unincorporated North County. This area as far as I know is relatively safe. Lots of new development. Blacks and Whites move into the area together knowing that its and intergrated subdivisions. Everyone enjoys living together. I am not sure about the Schools in that part of Hazelwood. Highschool is either Hazelwood Central, Hazelwood East or maybe McCluer North. I would suggest checking into the district before you choose a home.
From what I've heard you will not have any problems in St. Louis being a inter-racial couple. The area pretty much has a "mind your own business" mentallity. For the most part stay away from counties that are 90% one race. Trust me it. It is not that way by accident but design. Although some areas of St. Louis county (Chesterfield, Clayton, Creve Ceoure, Kirkwood to name a few) are not as racially diverse as North County, people are generally accepting of everyone. The more educated areas people are less concerned with the collor of your skin.
St. Louis IMO, is one of the best kept secrets in the country as far as quality of life. The area has plenty to offer families as well as singles. When enjoying the malls zoos restaraunts you will not have to be worried with taking abuse from the average person. You can live your life in peace.
I think you may just have to focus on the education and safety factors when it comes to finding a neighborhood to live in. You want your children to get a great education, but also be surrounded by a racially diverse crowd in a safe area then possibly try hazelwood. I only say this because my father lives out there, and he has had no problems. I'd say that it is about equal race wise, they have fairly decent schools, and the neighborhoods are not bad at all. But if you are looking for top notch schools, with very low crime rate you would probably be staying around a majority of whites and little to any other ethnic groups. In the city you will find a large number of black folks, but as you go farther and farther out that number dwindles tremendously. To be honest, I do not like St. Louis at all being that it is still racially segregated to my eyes. I mean you may end up finding a decent neighborhood with a really great school district, but I cannot reassure you that no one will not do something ignorant to you or your children. I have been called ****** more times than I can count while living here, but I also stay in a neighborhood where many burb/county people would the "ghetto". So all I can say is, do what is best for you and your family. Just do not be surprised when you find some of the people here seem still to be living during the jim crow era. Good luck to you.
I had a co-worker, former Northwestern basketball coach, who was shot dead 7 years ago walking down the street with his young son in a quiet suburban neighborhood by a crazed supremecist type with an axe to grind against all minorities - that day the man shot and killed 6 minorities in one night. The area where my co-worker lived was a nice community but known to be targeted by fringe groups.
You knew Ricky Birdsong?
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