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Old 04-06-2008, 10:03 PM
10 posts, read 45,337 times
Reputation: 14



My family and I are considering moving to the Belleville/OFallon/Collinsville/Fairview Heights area. We were wondering what are the best areas and school systems for supporting diversity. Most of my family currently lives in the extreme southern part of Illinois where there has been a lot of hatred for anyone who is different. I was wondering what the communities around this area were like. Are they supportive and accepting of different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and cultures? Our daughter is getting ready to start school soon and I would like her to go to school in a more tolerant atmosphere.

Old 04-08-2008, 02:50 AM
13 posts, read 41,195 times
Reputation: 11
I'm not an expert on the area -- only spent a few days there but I don't think you would have any problems there (I live 30 miles from Chicago and 60 miles from Milwaukee). I went to that big mall in Fairview Heights last August and it struck me as pretty normal. I didn't see a lot of Hispanics, like we have where I live, but seemed like a nice mix of black and white there. It seemed suburban/tolerant to me, not rural/rigid.

Overall, St. Louis people were friendly, would be a nice city to live close to but much hotter than I'm used to. I know O'Fallon and Edwardsville are supposed to have nice schools but I'm sure they're not the only ones.

Hopefully, someone down there can give you more info.
Old 04-08-2008, 11:45 AM
51 posts, read 60,931 times
Reputation: 13
I know the schools in Edwardsville and O'Fallon are good, and there is a great elementary/jr high school called "Wolf Branch." A new subdivision was built recently and they added a special sign to say "Wolf Branch school!" because they knew it was a big factor for people. That is why one of my co-workers had a home built there.

I live in Fairview Heights and it is diverse and safe at the same time. We will walk through our neighborhood and there are always (more often than not, actually) be black and white kids playing together, skateboarding, etc. We are also from rural southern Illinois (Benton area) and my wife's grandma recently visited us and was shocked to see black and white kids playing together. Sad, isn't it?

In Fairview Heights/O'Fallon, it seems that everyone mingles..Like the other poster said, you won't see a lot of hispanics in the metro-east, but it is a pretty good mix of black/white. Fairview Heights is about 18% black and has a crime rate lower than Benton. O'Fallon has a crime rate even lower than Fairview Heights!!! I should note, however, that you can barely tell a difference between the different towns like O'Fallon/Fairview Heights/Shiloh in that they are all very safe, somewhat diverse, and they all border each other. You wouldn't know you were leaving Fairview if the street signs didn't change (in O'Fallon they are blue and say "O'Fallon" on the side of them in cursive).

It is a great area, and a great area to bring your kids. my wife is a stay at home mother and takes our son to the park, walks through the mall, the stores, and everything, I never feel weary about it.
We recently looked at a house that was cheaper than our apartment on the Missouri side that had 5 murders in 2008 alone (as of March 31)!!! (edit; I meant the neighborhood had 5 murders, not the house lol)

I know how important it is to find the right area for you and your kids, and I would recommend any of the areas you mentioned to anyone.

Belleville is the only city you named that could have "bad" parts, but I'm not familiar with them, because when you live in Fairview or O'Fallon, you have little reason to go to Belleville at all.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by Julian B; 04-08-2008 at 11:47 AM.. Reason: adjustment
Old 04-09-2008, 01:03 PM
51 posts, read 60,931 times
Reputation: 13
Try posting this in the St. Louis forum, you will get more answers there.
Old 05-21-2008, 08:39 AM
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 31,084,096 times
Reputation: 3792
I hate when people think diversity is code for black people... it's NOT! East St. Louis is 98% black... that's not diversity!!

Saying that the reason blacks and whites get along fine in Idaho is because the black people there don't have a chip on their shoulder shows a real ignorance for race relations in most of this country and the demographics of your own state. The Midwest has issues with race relations because of the history of racial tensions and vast inequities. Idaho has few problems with race because there's no DIVERSITY! It's like 95% white!!
Old 05-26-2008, 08:01 PM
10 posts, read 31,009 times
Reputation: 13
Default diversity in the metro area

the predominate culture in collinsville and belleville is caucasian. I grew up in the metro east (moved away and recently came back) and have lived in collinsville and edwardsville both. Collinsville is typically a bedroom community for St louis and I regret to say, is caught for the most part in a time warp. Belleville is probably worse in terms of intolerance (though I know a lot of good people and family) (my husband quips: the town that Jim Crow built) and unfortunately it is true. Overall the most progressive (yet still has racial and other tensions) is Edwardsville, definitively the most expensive and most recently developed (as of late). Schools are pretty good in Eville - very walkable for the most part - there is a university there so there are clusters of apartments. There are two communities between eville and collinsville, glen carbon is next to eville then to the south of it maryville. These little towns are exploding in growth but much of it is white flight. My husband and myself have lived in Vegas, Los Angeles and New york and these towns are absolutely white flight - but perhaps that is what you want. Edwardsville's downtown has redeveloped and is quite cute (county seat) and has had extensive residential and retail development in the city (now has a best buy and several grocery stores). Personally, Edwardsville is the best bet but not the best bang for the buck. Racial profiling still occurs in all of these cities. Overall I like the area but it has alot of growing to do.
Old 05-28-2008, 03:45 PM
101 posts, read 428,003 times
Reputation: 51
Originally Posted by CDChicago View Post
aragx is right. East St. Louis is not diverse. I think the government could help enforce integration there by busing in some Hispanics. That would please everyone as busing has done elsewhere! Right?

aragx is right again. When there is no forced diversity, there are no racial problems. In fact, racism can only exist where there is diversity. In a monocultural place (like Japan) there cannot be (and there is no) racism or racial friction. Duh!
Racism does exist in monocultural places like China and Japan. First of all they are not monocultural. If you research the countries, both have a few racial minorities.
Old 07-23-2008, 02:41 AM
Location: Southwest Illinois/ St. Louis metro area
9 posts, read 62,323 times
Reputation: 15
I would not live in any part of Belleville. Its getting worse all the time with the crime here. I know nobody wants to hear it. But... East st. Louis has over run its borders and has brought all the crime, drugs, and filth that goes with that hole of a city. More whire people move out of Belleville all the time. Its not because of intolerance. Its because they are tired of their houses, cars, sheds and garages being broke in to and the poilice do absolutely nothing. They cant reallly. Dont want to profile anyone.
[mod cut]

Last edited by aragx6; 07-23-2008 at 01:32 PM.. Reason: racist
Old 06-10-2009, 02:51 AM
1 posts, read 9,497 times
Reputation: 13
Hello, I just want to say that my family moved to St. Clair County, specifically Belleville, IL in 1998 and was part of the the community (both military and civilian) until 2005. We went through all the things that young adults/families go through: moving, renting, buying a home, going to college, finding part-time work, church, outings, vacations, etc. and we were able to be very productive. We are originally from the the East Coast, so it was a bit of a culture shock at first (midwesterners are friendly, but it takes a while for some to warm up to you). Here are the basics about Belleville: first, there are some lingering racial tensions, I won't deny that. But there is also a large growing population of transplanted military member, international college students/professionals, and young families fleeing the high real estate of metro St. Louis. These individuals, along with the younger native Southern Illinoisians tend to be more open-minded and accepting of diversity. Belleville District 118, along with Shiloh's Belle Valley are two of the top-rated school systems in the state of Illinois. My kids went to Pre-K thru 5th grade there and I worked in the school system part-time as an AmeriCorps tutor, latchkey assistant, and student-teacher. Very dedicated teachers. The architecture in downtown and West Belleville is absolutely gorgeous with stunning and unique craftman, bungalow, victorian, Old World, ranch and other types in all price. O'Fallon, Fairview Heights and some surrounding areas are nice too, but lack the uniqueness of Belleville because they tend to be very cookie-cutter and urban sprawlish. Belleville has a great community college, and also a four-year University - Lindenwood. I lived in a small, quiet subdivision called Manass Terrace (62226) tucked away in the middle of everything (there was even a small man made lake behind our home w/ducks and geese!). Our home was under $100K and occupied two lots. We visited the local YMCA, movies, farmers' markets, parks, bike trails, etc often. St. Louis was an easy commute of 15 minutes, and Scott AFB was only 20 minutes away. Major hwys were easy to access (less traffic than O'Fallon or Fairview Heights!), camping in the Ozarks was always fun at Trout Lodge YMCA Resort. Plenty of free things for those interested in culture or museums in downtown St. Louis. All in all, it was a good experience. We were safe, enjoyed our time and yes, we are an African-American family living in the heart of predominately white Belleville. Belleville is very community oriented, and gives back what you put into it. Give it a chance and stop listening to all the naysayers!
Old 11-30-2009, 07:14 PM
1 posts, read 8,546 times
Reputation: 15
Originally Posted by aragx6 View Post
I hate when people think diversity is code for black people... it's NOT! East St. Louis is 98% black... that's not diversity!!

Saying that the reason blacks and whites get along fine in Idaho is because the black people there don't have a chip on their shoulder shows a real ignorance for race relations in most of this country and the demographics of your own state. The Midwest has issues with race relations because of the history of racial tensions and vast inequities. Idaho has few problems with race because there's no DIVERSITY! It's like 95% white!!

True the state of Idaho according to census records which are a decade old was 95% "white", but I do not think the necessarily indicates a lack of diversity-mostly because I do not think diversity is code for "black people." I think an area can be culturally diverse without even involving more than European Americans or African Americans. I do not make the assumption that because someone shares the same skin color then it must be true that they all share the same culture and history. I think it would be ignorant on my part to make such an assumption.

Individuals who identify as "white" on census records may descend from many different cultures with their own traditions, values and norms. This is true of "non white" individuals as well and to claim that an area is not diverse because it does not include a large number of one of the many minority groups in this country is a rather narrow way to apply a term like "diverse."

Agreed, the St. Louis area has a nasty history of stratification and inequality and as such should probably not be compared with areas which do not share similar histories. However, keeping all of that in mind, maybe there is something to the idea that those who live in areas without this historical context may not have the same challenges to overcome before they can peacefully coexist...
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