Howard Magazine - Page 6 - Editor's Note

Howard Magazine
- Page 6
Editor's Note

Surrounded by diversity

Why I came to appreciate growing up in Howard County


Growing up in Howard County was a privilege for so many reasons, not the least of which was the diversity of people surrounding me.


As a second-grader, I made friends with a girl who’d recently moved from Hong Kong and regularly played with neighbor kids from Israel. In middle school, I was invited to a bat mitzvah that remains one of the best parties I’ve ever attended. And in high school, my Farsi-speaking friend once talked her way into a prime table at a Persian-owned restaurant.


Back then, it never occurred to me that those experiences were unusual, and it wasn’t until much later that I started to appreciate them.


I remember a conversation with a college friend from rural Pennsylvania — she was imparting some anecdote about her family when she interrupted her story to explain a particular Jewish tradition. No need, I told her — I was already familiar, thanks to childhood friends. Then she told me why she was used to spelling it out: she’d been the only Jewish student at her high school. I was utterly astounded.


That memory prompted me to compare the demographics of the county where she grew up to mine:


Bradford County, Pa., is 96 percent white (non-Hispanic), according to U.S. Census estimates from 2017; Howard County is 52 percent white (non-Hispanic). In Bradford County, just 1.2 percent of residents were foreign-born, compared to one-fifth of Howard County residents.


In this issue, we take a deeper dive into Howard County’s demographics, using data to track its path to one day becoming “majority minority,” as one report put it. See that shift for yourself in a number of fascinating charts, tables and maps, starting on page 36.


In another story, we examine how the county has become a haven of sorts for interracial families, starting in Columbia’s early days of integrated housing and extending into today’s dating culture (page 24).


We also hear from a number of residents taking Korean classes at the Miller branch library; Ellicott City residents, in particular, are increasingly interested in learning the language to better connect with their Korean-American neighbors—and to read the menus at the area’s renowned Korean restaurants (page 30).


These stories underline what it took me years to realize: Not everyone gets to experience the intersection of races and cultures the way we do in Howard County.


Rachel Cieri Mull