How racially/ethnically mixed was your childhoold neighborhood, school, & church?

By childhood, I mean up to the age of 18.

You may wish to state your ethnicity and approximate age in your answer, as well as place or places where you grew up. Any other details are obviously up to the respondent.

To start off…

I am black; I just turned 40 and grew up in Memphis. Both of the neighborhoods I grew up in were all black. One still is, while the other no longer exists.

Virtually all the students in my elementary school were black. The sole exception I can think of was my best friend Don, whose mother was a teacher at the school and who attended the school for that reason. I would guess that the faculty was evenly divided. Of the ten faculty members whose names and faces I can recall with ease, six were black and four white.

My junior high school was maybe 10% white and 90% black; likewise the high school. During those years, the proportion of white teachers, librarians, & such increased to maybe three-quarters, but that’s just a guess.

I cannot remember having a Hispanic, Native American, or Asian as a classmate or acquaintance until college.

The church I attended was all black. I have no data to indicate whether it still is or not, but I would bet that little has changed.

Anybody else? Anyone? Bueller?

I am a 27 year old Jewish white female, and I lived in the same house from 0-18 years in Evanston, IL, just outside of Chicago.

The neighbourhood of Evanston I grew up in was 100% white and maybe 30% Jewish. My synagogue was 100% white as well, perhaps unsurprisingly (though that was not the case with, eg the synagogue at my university). My school was 44% white, 40% black and 6% Hispanic.

I’m 29 years old, white female.

And the answer is “not very much at all”. I grew up in NH, and went to private Catholic schools from K-12th grade. About 90% of the students at any of the school were white, most were Catholic, with a few Jewish kids, too, the other 10% was a mix of Indian, African American, and Asian kids (mostly Chinese).

The Church we went to was a bit more diverse, though - not much, NH being like the whitest state in the nation, but more than my school.

I went to elementary school on an Air Force base in Korea but the only races I remember were the half Korean kids everyone else was white.

For junior high and high school I live in California and my class was mostly white with probably 40% Latinos. In high school we had 3 black kids over the year but I think the most at one time was only 2 which only lasted a year. We had a handful of Asians in my class but I was only friends with two of them.

When I was a kid, up until age 9, we lived out in the country. WAY out in the country (although it’s practically town now.) For those of you who know the area, we got our mail in Eastover - we didn’t even live in Eastover. There were a good number of white people out there, though (often there aren’t in the rural South) but the schools were entirely black because none of the white people wanted their kids to be the only white kid in a classroom, so we all went to private schools.

Then we moved into town, and we still lived in a very white neighborhood (as my parents still do) but my schools were right about 50/50 through middle and high school.

I was born in 1980 in South Carolina.

Male, 54, grew up in Southern California. My neighborhood and elementary school were roughly 90% white, 10% Hispanic. I had one black teacher (5th). All the rest were white and in some cases the former students of my parents, who had taught in that district for years. We moved to a nearby town after 7th grade, which put us in a much nicer neighborhood. Right on the edge of “rich folk” country. I remember the odd Asian student, and a few black ones, but I really didn’t have any friends that weren’t white until high school. A couple of black football players in my Bachelor Foods class decided to take a poor, ignorant white boy and educate him on the realities of race relations. That was a fun class. We made fun of the stereotypes while learning to cook. High school was also the first time I dated a Hispanic. Freaked my “The KKK is too liberal” mother out. As for church…I remember nothing. Probably 100% white, knowing my mother.

I’m a 30-year-old white female, who grew up in the same house from 0-18 in a town between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio.

My neighborhood had one black family until I was 8, then a black family moved in next door and a black/white couple moved in down the street. The two black families are still here, the other one has moved.

I think my school district was maybe 5% black, if that. I didn’t have any black friends until high school, where there was but one black person in band.

There was one Chinese family in our church, and the girls went to my school. They were friends with my brother. I don’t know that there were any other Asian kids at school other than…

My town does have a little enclave of Phillippino families, with about 10 kids total, and one of the kids was in my immediate peer group. We were very glad to have our “token” friend. As it turns out, he is gay too so - yay us! :wink:

The school district is now 10% black and there are also a lot of Indian families moving in to town. My friend taught ESL for a little while in the district and all of her students were Indian. I don’t think we had any Indian students at my school until I was in 10th grade.

I grew up in one of the last almost-all-white neighbourhoods in Toronto. ‘Almost’ because my Dad is Japanese, and there was another Asian-WASP couple down our street. I was the only Asian kid at my grade school.

When I got to junior high, both my school and neighbourhood were more mixed. Now the area I grew up in has many Asian or Black couples and their kids.

I went to a big high school which had Ethiopian, Greek, Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern and East Indian areas near it. It was about as mixed as you can get.

The church I grew up in was mostly white with a decent sprinkling of Chinese, Japanese, and East Indian.

I’m 31.

57-year-old white male raised in far NW Chicago; attended Catholic elementary and high school. My neighborhood was 100% white; I’m not sure of the ethnic makeup, but I seem to remember it was predominantly Polish.

I don’t think I had any black or Hispanic friends or acquaintances until I went to college. Oddly enough, despite the fact that I attended college in downstate Illinois, many of the black students were from south side Chicago.

Not at all. When I say I grew up in white neighborhoods, I mean, no black people, no Hispanic people, no immigrants. There wasn’t a single black student in any school I attended until I was in 7th grade, and I didn’t have a class with a single black student until I started high school.

Now, by the time I was in 8th grade, we lived in an integrated neighborhood, but it was a slow process.

Same for me - went to a NH public school first through twelvth grade. Very, very little diversity. I’m not at all sure I ever had a black kid in one of my classes. Didn’t have any black friends until - ye gods, until law school, actually. (The small liberal-arts school I went to for college in Rhode Island was pretty non-diverse as well.)

There were a good number of Asian kids, though - can’t recall the number, but it was enough that they didn’t stand out as a minority.

Much smaller number of Hispanic kids. Was friends with one of them - kid from Mexico, liked to talk about how his first week in the country was the week of the Oklahoma City bombing, and he spent quite a while afterwards convinced that we were a nation of crazy people.

New England, outside of Boston, can be a very strange place to grow up. It has its moments, but overall, I’m glad to be quit of the place.

I grew up in the Kensington neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. I’m white.

In the 1970s, it was one of the rare city neighborhoods that really wasn’t identifiable with one European ethnic group, although German-Americans were a plurality. A lot of Anglos, some Italian-Americans, some Irish-Americans, a few Poles, and the rare Jewish family here and there. Kensington’s demographics were predominantly lower-middle-class to middle-class and white, but there were middle-class African-American families scattered about here and there.

In the early 1980s, lower-income blacks began to move into the neighborhood en masse. The tipping point was reached in the mid-to-late-1980s, and whites fled. People also left the neighborhood for other reasons – it was a “starter neighborhood” where there was some churn, there was a large die-off of elderly residents, and the local economy was in shambles after a recession that hit the area hard, forcing many to leave the Buffalo area entirely.

Except for a few holdouts, the neighborhood today is probably 80% to 90% African-American. I drove by my childhood house a couple of days ago. It’s in very poor repair, and there’s a broken-down Cadillac in the driveway. :frowning:

My old church, a Lutheran-Missouri Synod congregation, was entirely white, and dominated by German-Americans. As the demographics of the neighborhood changed and membership began to decline, the church board decided to dissolve the congregation rather than integrate or accept any of the many offers they had to share the facility. (I converted to Judaism several years ago.) Only a few “white” Protestant congregations remain in the area, along with the Catholic church.


Elementary school: private Catholic order (not parish) school. Probably 90% white and upper-income; I was one of the rare lower-middle-class white kids there. There was a small number of black students; maybe 10%.

High school: city public magnet school. Probably 65% white, 30% black, 5% Puerto Rican.

I lived in 3 different places. I’m white, lived in California almost my whole life. Went to school in the 80’s, graduated HS in '91.

Up until I was about 7, we lived in Bakersfield, in a pretty mixed area. I suppose it was majority white, but not much more than 50%. Quite a few black and Latino families, no Asians that I recall. I had friends who (now that I think about it) were probably the kids of migrant workers or who had been in the very recent past. My first memories of playing with neighbors are of the black family next door–I was at their house a lot. At my grade school, the worst thing a person could possibly be was “prejudiced.” I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but we all knew it was really terrible. I can’t remember hardly anything about church, except that the building had stained glass windows (very unusual in our church; it had belonged to some other church originally).

Next place we lived was still Bakersfield, on the edge of an agricultural area (my bus stop was at the edge of a sheep field). Not so many black families at all, still lots of Latinos I think. At church there were only two other kids my age, and I think one may have been of Indian or Middle Eastern descent (she was my friend, and the other kid was a boy and we hated each other). I can’t remember anyone else there.

Then we moved to the Central Coast. My high school was 50/50 white and Latino, with about 3 black kids and 10 Asian kids. A whole lot of people whose first language was Spanish. But it was very geographically split; the vast majority of Latino families lived in a little farming town a few miles away. Since my church is geographically organized–you attend a congregation where you live–my congregation was pretty white and another one was pretty Latino. (There were 5 congregations in town.) The church kids all over town got together a lot, and overall it was mostly white, a bit Latino, and a couple of black girls. There were Asians at church, but none my age. Oh, the guy I dated was Asian. Interracial dating of any kind was normal and not a subject of controversy, but it would have been unusual for a white kid from town to date a Latino kid from the other town. Dating white/Latino kids from your own area was normal, though.

I lived in Whitefish Bay and it was called Whitefolks Bay for a reason, growing up, there were a small handful of non-white people living in my city. My grade school (and church) was 95% white. When I got to high school it was probably about 70% white. It was still in Whitefish Bay, but we had something called the 220 program, which basically meant that they bussed in inner city kids to our city’s public school (which would normally carry a very hefty tuition for people outside of Whitefish Bay). So while it was ‘technically’ more mixed, in practice it wasn’t really at all. The majority of the inner city kids all hung together and formed their own groups/cliques. If you took those kids out the school was probably 95% white.
Now that I think about it, I think my high school probably had more Russians then black.

My family is Irish-German. I grew up in a neighborhood in the northeast Bronx in the 1950s and 1960s that was mostly Italian and a smaller number of Irish, with a smattering of Germans, Poles, etc. There was a synagogue in the area, so there must have been some Jews, but I didn’t know any personally. There were a couple of Chinese laundries (which everyone matter-of-factly referred to as “the Chink’s” without intending to be insulting).

It was hostile territory for blacks. I virtually never saw any in the neighborhood when I was growing up (except the guys who delivered coal to our house). The local teen gangs would harass and sometimes beat up any blacks who came around. When the first black family tried to move in in the early 1970s, someone threw a fire bomb on their front porch (fortunately without doing much damage).

I went to a small all-male Catholic high school. Like the neighborhood, it was mostly Italian and Irish, but with a small Puerto Rican contingent who commuted from the South Bronx. My class had one Chinese student (I think the only one in the school.).

My year didn’t have any black students, although there were a few in other years. The first day of freshman year, there was one black kid who sat in the back row. He threw up and was taken out of class, and we never saw him again. I realize now he probably puked in terror from being surrounded by all us white punks.

By the seventies other ethnic groups had started to move in, and the neighborhood is now almost entirely non-white. (I knew things were changing when there was a special on goat meat at the local supermarket, and the kids playing stickball at the playground were wearing turbans.) Now it’s a veritable United Nations, with blacks (including Jamaicans and Trinidadians), latinos, Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Pakistanis, and everybody else. My mother still lives in the neighborhood, but is one of the last of the Mohicans - almost the last Irish lady on the block. My high school is mostly black and latino (Although its still Catholic, I think they admit non-Catholics now).

Moved Cafe Society --> IMHO.

I’m 42, white ( half-WASP mutt, half-Serb ), born in upstate New York in early '68. My parents ( various sets ) were highly mobile when I was young, so it varied a good bit.

Pre-School/Kindergarten - Dorchester, Boston, Mass: Hard to recall now. *Mostly * white, I think.

First and Second Grade - Washington Heights, NYC, NY: Pretty diverse at the time. Small white majority I think, large black minority, with scattered Asians and Latinos ( Puerto Rican mostly, I suspect ). My first real crush was white, the kid I most hero-worshipped was black and my best friend was Indian, from an at least somewhat observant Hindu family.

Third and Fourth Grade - Richmond District, San Francisco, CA: More diverse yet. Black, white, Asian, latino, Pacific Islander in a complex mix. Whites were probably the single largest group, but I’d be surprised if they comprised much more than 50% of the school peers, if even that. Closest friend was white, kid I most looked up to was Chinese, neighborhood kids I hung out with most were Filipino and Latino respectively.

Fifth and Sixth Grade - Ferndale, Greater Detroit Metro area, Mi: Lily white, working class and subjectively quite racist. Grand total of two black kids in my school. No other minorities at all and I don’t think I ever saw a non-white adult in my neighborhood in those years.

Seventh Grade - as above, but junior high pulling from more communities: Maybe 70-80% white, 20-30% black. Some light racial tension, though not usually too overt. The only real fear-inducing bully was black, but he was an equal opportunity terrorist far as I can tell. Three black teachers that I can recall. No latinos or Asians at all.

Eighth Grade through High School - Alameda, CA: Very diverse again, with a much heavier emphasis on Pacific Islanders ( Filipino, Guamanian, Samoan ) due to the naval air station, though they didn’t represent a large group in absolute terms. I attended the somewhat more working class/navy-brat high school on the island, so the largest single chunk was white, but not an absolute majority. Asian, black, PI as above, latino.

55 year old male here. I’m a white American mutt, German, Irish and Polish ancestors. I grew up in the Gardenville neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, in the northeast corner of the city.

There were no non-white residents within miles of my house. There were a few recent European immigrants with accents, Italians mostly. One local business was owned by a Jewish pharmacist. Literally the only black people that I saw in my neighborhood were shoeshine boys on the commercial strip who took the bus to get there, street arabs (guys who sold produce from horse-drawn carts) and the guys who rode the back of the garbage truck (they never drove). Baltimore was very segregated when I was a kid.

I went to Catholic school, which was 100% white. The local public schools were all white until the late 60s, and the first blacks in those schools were greeted by an uproar which began some serious white flight.

I basically grew up in the period and the environment depicted in John Waters’ Hairspray.

As my screen name indicates, I grew up in Astoria, a section of Queens, in New York City, in the Sixties and Seventies.

My parents still live in the house I grew up in, and I see the ethnic changes every time I visit.

When I was first starting school, the neighborhood was largely Irish and Italian, with a large sprinkling of elderly Germans. Most of the big retail stores on Steinway Street had Jewish owners, but hardly any of them lived in Astoria.

By the time I was in high school, the Irish were mostly gone, and the neighborhood was mostly Greek and Italian, with a sprinkling of everything else. There were enough Yugoslavians, Puerto Ricans and Filippinos in my parish to justify to justify Masses in Croatian, Spanish and Tagalog.

There weren’t many blacks in the immediate area. The black kids who DID live in Astoria were largely confined to “the projects” closer to the river. We’d see them shopping on Steinway or at the old UA Astoria movie theater, but didn’t interact with many otherwise.

Thing is, even though New York City has 8 million or more people of every possible ethnicity, people tended to live, work, worship and socialize within a few blocks. It was very easy, in my day, to live in New York City and rarely or never meet Jews, blacks, Chinese, or ___. If you went to a Catholic school, as I did, you might wrongly think that everyone in the world was Irish or Italian.

Today? Astoria has all the aforementioned ethnic groups, plus lots of Mexicans, Arabs, Indians/Pakistanis, and (increasingly) yuppies.