Friday, April 12, 2002

Won't You Be My Neighbor? - The house next door goes on sale today, and I am sad to say that our neighbors Darryl and Bruce will be moving out by the end of the month. [The owner of the house died recently and his estate is now selling off all of his rental properties.] Darryl and Bruce were great neighbors to have—friendly, neat, courteous and quiet. They also happen to be black, like our other neighbor Tandra on the other side of the house.

In fact, when Jenny and I first moved in, we didn’t even know who lived next to us. The only thing we checked before making an offer on the house was the appearance of the houses on our block, especially the ones right next door. The sellers, two gay white men named Tim and Larry, were especially anxious to sell the house since they were about to close on their new house in Montclair, an exclusive, mostly-white district of Oakland.

Some of you might be thinking to yourself, “Why would a conservative choose to live in a liberal, mostly minority neighborhood?” That’s a simple question for me to answer. Jenny and I bought our house in Oakland because we wanted to live here and had the means to do so. We live in Oakland because we feel comfortable living in an area where we are accepted and there are neighbors of Asian descent like us. In fact, our freedom to choose where we live, along with other similar choices, is at the heart of conservative thinking.

"Wait a minute", I can hear many of you saying. "That doesn’t make sense!"

However, consider this: it is not the conservatives in America that wish to socially engineer every aspect of our lives—from our schools to the workplace—by mandating racial, gender and ethnic quotas. In fact, it is the left-wing of American politics who is denying choices to hard-working children, individuals and families by pre-selecting the composition of our schools, our institutions and ultimately, our neighborhoods. And after having the nerve to violate the principles of equal treatment under the law, these white liberals don’t even have the guts to live among the very people they claim to be helping.

Given advance notice by their real estate broker, the first potential buyers actually came last weekend to check out the house for sale. I met them out front as I was mowing the lawn. They were an unmarried white couple. The man was a lawyer in San Francisco, serving in the Office of the City Attorney. He asked me questions about the house, the schools and the neighborhood. I answered his questions honestly, and even let him know about the cars recently stolen from our block. After thanking me, the man looked me in the eye and optimistically predicted that the neighborhood would soon be “gentrifying”. I wonder what he meant by that?


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