Why New Hampshire? (And Why Not Pittsburgh?)

Welcome to New Hampshire state road signWe’ve recently begun telling people – dentists, teachers, etc. – that we will be moving to New Hampshire this summer. The #1 question we get is: Why New Hampshire?

As readers know, we’re moving to New Hampshire because the state of California believes it has the right to make medical decisions for children.*

That is the reason for moving out of California. But why New Hampshire, specifically? The following are our reasons for moving to New Hampshire, listed in roughly the order of priority (from my perspective):

  1. We lived there for 6 years and it didn’t suck.
  2. We have a lot of friends there.
  3. We specifically have some very good friends who are generous (and possibly crazy) enough to allow us to stay with them until we find a place to live. We don’t have anywhere else in the country where we can find such free and spacious accommodations with such caring people. (Plus Joanne is an awesome cook, and the kids are Jackson & Cassie’s ages.)
  4. Max hates California and wants to move back to the East Coast. (Although, I guess that’s not a reason specifically for NH, it is a reason for the general locale.)
  5. Live free or die!
  6. The only vaccine legislation on the docket in NH is a bill protecting workers from required vaccinations.
  7. New Hampshire doesn’t even have a vaccine registry. It’s the only state in the US that doesn’t. The feds are saying they have to do it, but the state has basically replied, “Yeah, we’ll only do it if we can guarantee everyone’s privacy.”
  8. Our entire family can potentially do theatre again. At the very least, we can see a lot of theatre. (I hopefully didn’t offend Mary Ellen so badly when I said “I hate Hillary” on her timeline that she will hold it against Jackson and Cassie. Sorry Mary Ellen! It was a really bad day.)
  9. My mother’s oldest brother and his family all live in New England. We like them. (We like most of the rest of my family too.) One of the people who lives there is my cousin Jen, who is only 1 month and 3 days older than I am. Her daughter is about 2 months older than Cassie. Her daughter’s name? Also Cassie. But it’s short for a different full name.
  10. No state income tax. (That’s like a 10% pay increase right there.)
  11. No state sales tax. (Of all the taxes, I think sales tax is the wrongest. Also, it’s like another 10% pay increase.)
  12. Three words: Sugar on snow.
  13. There’s an ocean right there.
  14. New England is pretty, and affordable, and historical. (How cool will it  be for Jackson to learn about the American Revolution and be able to drive to Concord, Mass.? Maybe I’ll make him do the ride of Paul Revere. I’m sure there’s some sort of touristy thing set up for that.)

There are some people, like my mother-in-law (Hi Sandy!) who are upset that we’re not moving somewhere else – specifically, to Pittsburgh, PA. As she pointed out on the phone today, Pittsburgh is more “diverse” than NH, so why are we bringing our Black children to one of the Whitest states? NH is now the 3rd Whitest state in AmericaPennsylvania Welcomes You

The biggest reason we’re not moving to Pittsburgh is that Pittsburgh, like Boston (where we’re also not living), is one of the most segregated cities in America. People still live in neighborhoods where membership is based primarily on the color of one’s skin. As metropolises go, Pittsburgh is the second whitest in the US. While Pittsburgh may have a more people of color (35.2% of 305,412, or 107,505) than the entire state of New Hampshire (7.7% of 1,330,608, or 102,457), Black people stay in Black neighborhoods, White people stay in White neighborhoods. New Hampshire does not display this division.

The second reason goes back to my college days. I grew up in California, in the East Bay. We didn’t have a lot of Black kids at our high school – in fact, I think the Pacific Islanders outnumbered them – but we did have a lot of people of color. Most of them were Latino and Asian. While there was certainly prejudice, it had a lot more to do with anti-immigrant sentiment (“Speak English!”) than it did with race per se. When I went to Pittsburgh for college, CMU was a very White and Asian school. I noticed more blatant racism there, and the news from the city itself included a number of protests by Black citizens for unequal treatment, including at least one “race riot.” Several of the native Pittsburghers at the school were less than stellar examples of inclusion. (My ex-boyfriend was the worst. I honestly can’t believe I dated that guy. I mean, I guess he was hot… that’s a whole other post.)  There was definitely a “Black people there, White people here” vibe. I mean, enough so that I, a very clearly White person, would notice. My ex actually told me to roll up my windows as we went through Homewood, the Black neighborhood. I truly felt that race relations in Pittsburgh in the 90s were more akin to those in the South in the late 60s/early 70s. That is, Pittsburgh seems to be decades behind when it comes to embracing diversity.

The third reason simply has to do with personal experience. Aside from one church experience in the East Bay, the only place where our family has encountered blatant racism is in Pennsylvania – specifically Pittsburgh, as well as the little towns between Pittsburgh and where Max’s grandmother lives.

In addition, Pittsburgh does not have an ocean next to it. I’m not big on being land-locked. I mean, it’s mostly the race thing, but the lack of ocean doesn’t help.

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that all native Pittsburghers, all Pittsburghers, or every member of any other group of people in Pittsburgh are racist. That would be absurd. I am saying, I don’t feel comfortable raising my kids there. If you’re offended by that, please become part of the solution and encourage your neighbors to truly embrace diversity. Thank you.

So, there you have it – the answer to “why New Hampshire?” At some point, I’m planning a post on what we hope to do in NH to foster a positive sense of self in our children.


* Similar bills were introduced in other states, including Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine, Virginia, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Vermont. Most of them never made it past the first stage. Vermont did eliminate their philosophical belief exemption, but kept their religious exemption intact. Maine’s governor vetoed their law, which would not have eliminated any exemptions, but would have required parents to have a form signed by a doctor. Massachusetts actually has a bill before its legislature that proposes to add philosophical exemptions to an already broad religious exemption.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Why New Hampshire? (And Why Not Pittsburgh?)

  1. I hope you enjoy it there. I love the idea that you can all do theatre in New Hampshire–sounds fun!!! Pittsburgh is one of the most segregated cities or Pennsylvania is one of the most segregated states. You almost slipped that one by me.

Tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s