We moved to Valley Stream nine years ago. After house hunting in Valley Stream, Westchester, Bergen County area of New Jersey, Addisleigh Park in Queens, and again back in Valley Stream, we made our decision. Our decision to move here was based on proximity to our church, friends, and my husband’s job in the city at the time.
We visited a few homes in the VS neighborhoods of Gibson and in Westwood. We actually started and finished in Valley Stream. I remember visiting three homes in Westwood on the same day. The first home was an illegal duplex, the other was too outdated for us. The home we settled on was just what I needed at three months pregnant with a 2-year old toddler in tow. The home was modern, backyard large and lush, and the basement was finished. I even loved that it had an office space for me and my husband. Ok…for me.
At the time, I didn’t have “diversity” high on my list or even on my radar. I knew that I had friends nearby and that was enough for me. I later learned that we in fact lived in a diverse community that’s growing more and more diverse each year. Coming from the Midwest where I only knew a few people who were not either black nor white, raising kids in a diverse community became even more important.
What I didn’t like about this community was the fact that while driving down Rockaway Avenue one day to visit our home in contract, was the unwelcoming Confederate flag placed in a 2nd floor corner unit of a residential building. It was as if it were warning or attempting to scare those who entered the area off of Sunrise about something. It has since been removed.
While this concerned us briefly, as did the sporadic message boards we found online speaking poorly of black people, people from Queens moving into the area or going to the mall, we still closed on our home and moved in right before Christmas in 2007. The house was move in ready. We only painted our daughter’s bedroom purple and that’s about it.
Valley Stream is a great place to raise a family especially if you want to raise them in a community that resembles the United Nations. I was amazed at the display of cultures during my children’s school multicultural fair two years ago. The cultural pride these kids displayed was amazing! It made me feel even better about my community and exposed our children to other foods, traditions, and customs.
But some people don’t like that. They feel different cultures are ruining the community. They feel it’s taking away from their businesses that have been here for years, decades, generations. Some act as if they are the only ones who want a better community or education for their children when most humans want that as well.
Wanting better is not just the privilege of some. When I see privileged behavior spewed on social media it makes my blood boil. The uneducated opinions, the close-minded behavior, and those who say “my community has changed and not for the better” or “there goes the neighborhood” are absolutely ridiculous and I’m being nice.
We have some lovely, friendly neighbors but did they wonder the same about us? At the time, I believe we were the only African Americans on our street for blocks. Did they think, “There goes the neighborhood?” Did they think that we would bring the property value down, or did they even consider that we would come in, run for office, start a community blog that helps new families, coach sports teams, introduce programs to the community, be active in the PTA, start a teen empowerment program for girls in the community, and volunteer on community projects, etc.?
Let me tell you that it sickens me to see the prejudice, unfair, and ridiculous comments spewed on social media about anything related to diversity or religion. While many may not comment on these posts, the public is reading. I also recommend that if you own a business, you may want to refrain from commenting. We see you. We know what businesses to stay away from as well.
In closing, to families who are considering a move to or have recently moved to Valley Stream, those comments on these social media pages do not reflect the opinions of the entire community. In fact, the majority of the people living here are welcoming, open minded, and accepting of all cultures, religious beliefs, etc.
I agree that Valley Stream is changing. It’s changing for the better with new wonderful families, and businesses that meet the needs of ALL residents new and old. Let’s continue to make this a better place to live for all.