7000 Days in Lafayette. Resolved: Don't Slander this town
How to Judge Lafayette, if you must...
--The first year Little League baseball started, me and my wife were working, and constantly needed rides to practice for my older son. The rides were easily offered. This became the rule for years and years. I worked in San Francisco and could not transport him on a regular basis due to getting back to Lafayette after practice begin. Similar with my wife. She is brown. Never a problem getting rides; our family still holds the record for most rides asked for, and granted, in the history of Lafayette. If people could help, they did, willingly.This is the Lafayette I've witnessed...for years and years and years.
-As parents we participated in two sons' sports year round--baseball, basketball, football, wrestling, Little League, CYO, and the kids were on school teams as they became older. During these years of participation as a parent spectator and frequent volunteer, I had thousands and thousands of interactions with Lafayette parents, either down the foul lines for baseball games, in the stands for football/wrestling/ basketball matches; interaction after events and before games, getting breakfast, lunch, and dinner during road games, for example. Additionally, we took weekend trips to Monterey and LA, Sacramento, etc with traveling teams, for years and years. I went to almost every single game for two children on Lafayette roster teams, from my kids ages 5 to 18...
In these countless and decade long interactions with the parents of Lafayette, parents from big homes, little homes, rental homes, non town occupants (maybe parent worked here and kids were in school, etc), even when we had a drink or two, or three, or working an event snack bar, etc., I never, ever, never, heard a single off color remark from any parent. Ever. This includes "conservative" parents, middle of the road, liberal, etc. The parents may discuss fiscal policy, for example, but i never heard an offensive remark. That is a lot of opportunity for a racist to expose him or herself. Never saw it This is the Lafayette I witnessed...for years and years and years.
-Regarding the high schools in the area and the tenor therein, newspaper accounts, anecdotal exchanges, and published reports indicate that despite rare and sad toxic outliers that have been exposed, Lafayette's reputation as an accepting city has to be judged as stellar. When my younger son was a high school Senior, "Frankie" was a mentally and physically challenged classmate. The football team took it upon themselves to make Frankie their (beloved) team assistant/aide, welcoming him into the team circle to help out at every game. The love he was shown at the seasons' end ceremony made both his parent's and my eyes a little damp. Still does... Frankie was not of color but he lacked normal opportunity due to physical challenges. Acalanes High School put Frankie on a pedestal. This is the Lafayette I witnessed...for years and years and years.
--In regard to football, baseball, etc. high school competitions: They are loud and rambunctious. Lafayette was the place teams from all over CC County wanted to come to. The welcome mat was always held out, for all the "people of color" schools. Sportsmanship and admiration of the opposing teams' skills was the order of the day. I never saw or even heard about even a modicum of any field dispute between our students and the visitors. And in fact, our coaches would not have permitted even the slightest disrespect. No less, the other teams coaches wanted their players to behave as mature adults as well. And that was that, for years and years... never a problem, i.e. never a newspaper article or grapevine buzz about an episode. Zero. This is the Lafayette I witnessed...for years and years and years.
Related to welcoming "outsiders" to Lafayette, recall in recent, consecutive years Lafayette has hosted youth baseball, in the form of regional Little League All Star contests held in June and July, at the fields on St Mary's Road. The welcome mat was out and a good time was had by all. Again, no media reports or grapevine buzz of problems. When I attended, someone not being welcome would have been unthinkable and would not have been tolerated by our hosting officials and their staff. Teams from every corner of Northern California made their way deep into the bowels of our town. No less, we travelled to far corners of the regional as well and represented the City on those courts and fields.
Interestingly, when recalling school or sports "rumbles," intolerance, unfriendliness, etc., it has most commonly been the "same city" schools that, quite candidly, had parent riots and brawls, according to my years of reading the newspaper, hearing of suspended games, games moved from night time to the afternoon, etc. Not in Lafayette, The sports welcome mat went out. This is the Lafayette I witnessed...for years and years and years.
--Does Lafayette have a thread of racism running through it? Any probe of the town will show that Lafayette has a measurable Jewish population, a tribe that can arguably be described as the most staunch ally of African Americans in the past and present Civil Rights eras. So, with a Jewish population integrated in all Lafayette neighborhoods, there is already a known counter to bias within the boundaries of the city, I would argue. Region wide in recent weeks, the Jewish clergy has regularly sermoned about civil injustice. Similar, there is a strong Catholic presence in town, visible for youth in the (everyone welcome) CYO sports leagues. Point is, there are lots of road blocks in place that testify against a narrative of ingrained city prejudice-- the religious community.
In short, the numbers are stacked against an ugly mindset. Locally, intolerance best burrow deep into the ground, and not rear its head. Granted, internal, individual biases can live, but the tenor of the town I know, says "not allowed" and prejudice had better not be vocalized. Prejudice will be shamed and it will be shut down.
--A kid named "T"-- The Lafayette I know...a couple years back, a friend of my older son, here called "T," bi-racial with an out of town dad, was a member of the Boy Scouts, One day I saw him with two non-related den fathers out on the trail on a practice hike. They were not obligated to help him get his hike work in. But they did it, probably with little persuasion. This is the Lafayette I've witnessed...for years and years and years.
And winding down, I get emotional when I think back.,, I remember a past summer when my son was doing July football preparation (Acalanes), and he would pull up at home a few minutes later than normal. He said he was giving a teammate who lived in East County a ride to BART, because the kid did not have a car. My son felt obligated to help out, even in a slight way. If it must be said, the mate was a person of color...This is the Lafayette I've witnessed...for years and years and years.
That is all. Lots of positive experiences in town, and few negatives to dwell on