Want more information on racial integration? Check out our reading suggestions…
Intentional Integration, Diversity & Inclusion Glossary
YWCA’s Social Justice Glossary
Glossary from Racial Equity Tools
Q. Aren’t South Orange and Maplewood already integrated? Why do we still need an Integration organization in our community?
A. Racial integration in the United States is, unfortunately, a rare and precious thing. The community of South Orange and Maplewood is proud of its racial integration, but history tells us that staying integrated into the future requires intentional policies and a lot of work. For over 20 years our two town governments, our citizens, and many volunteers have been working to make this a reality, and we look forward to continuing this work.
Q. Isn’t diversity enough? Why does the Coalition emphasize integration?
A. Lots of cities and suburbs have diverse populations in which different racial or ethnic groups live in different neighborhoods. Residents live near one another, but they often don’t interact. In integrated communities—a very rare thing in the United States—people live among one another; they go to the same schools, visit the same parks, shop in the same stores, etc. They have shared vested interests in the life of their neighborhoods and in the whole community. Integrated communities are more sustainable than ones that are merely diverse. We believe that we are only as strong as we are welcoming of all residents to share fully in civic affairs, schools, municipal government, commerce, and in the social fabric of our towns—and that takes a commitment to integration.
Q. How does the Coalition benefit me as a resident?
A. Look through this website for the many ways the Coalition works for our community. We organize community forums on important topics; we give enthusiastic volunteer tours to prospective home buyers; we have organized wonderful celebrations like Two Towns in Harmony, a multicultural festival, and we host the community’s annual MLK Observance & Volunteer Fair; we bring in expert speakers on racial justice and equity issues; we hold the difficult conversations on race throughout the year. All in all, we try to model integration in our lives and attitudes. The list goes on. Volunteer with us and you will meet new friends and learn new skills! Fill out the volunteer form and we will get you involved in your community.
Q. Why does the Coalition have a strong focus on the school system?
A. Strong schools are a crucial component of a robust community. A growing body of evidence shows that children who attend racially integrated schools are better equipped to succeed in college and the workplace than their peers who attend racially skewed schools. This is true for whites as well as students of color. Racial inequities disadvantage the entire community; our focus is on helping the community build solutions to academic racial disparities to achieve success for all.
Q. What’s the impact of the Coalition Activities on my wallet?
A. When more people compete to live in a community, home values rise. All races choosing to live in Maplewood and South Orange means more people––lots more people! The Coalition’s marketing programs are designed to attract people of all races to our towns. Since the inception of the Coalition’s affirmative marketing program and throughout the last decade, housing values in South Orange and Maplewood have been among the fastest rising in New Jersey.
Q. How does the Coalition get financial support?
A. We are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that is supported by both townships, individual donors, foundations and grants. If would like to support our work, visit the Donate page. For more information, look at our Annual Reports.