If I bring up the topic of diversity to people in the area, it’s usually not long before someone says something along the lines of, “This area is sooo white.” Sometimes that’s accompanied by an uncited statistic, but more often it’s just a general feeling that people have. The reputation of the greater Seattle area is that it tends to be more white and less diverse than other areas of the country, but how does North Creek stack up?
Whenever someone tells me that this area is nearly all white, I initially compare that sentiment against my own perceptions and experiences. For example, whenever I take a stroll through North Creek Park, it usually doesn’t take long before encountering a family of another race or ethnicity. The same goes for the Mill Creek Library or even the local grocery store. And when I eat at one of the Indian or Korean restaurants in the area, it’s not uncommon to be one of the only white people eating there.
But perhaps the most glaring evidence of the diversity in the area is in the schools. Back in the fall, I attended Cultural Night at Cedar Wood elementary school and in just that one school, there were children and families representing over 30 different countries. Similarly, Fernwood Elementary School will be hosting their first Culture Night on April 21. The facebook page for the event indicates that over 35 different languages are spoken by families at the school! If our schools are brimming with diversity in cultures and languages, surely we need to reexamine the notion that this area lacks diversity.
Since perceptions can, and often do, lie perhaps some raw numbers will better capture the diversity landscape in North Creek. The American Census Bureau 2015 Community Survey indicates that 72.1% of people in the 98012 zip code identified as white only. Meanwhile 18 % identified as Asian, 7.8% Hispanic or Latino, 1.3% as black, 0.8% as American Indian/Alaska Native and 5.7% as more than one race.
The survey also indicates that these numbers are changing fairly rapidly. Just 5 years ago, the percentage of people who identified as white stood at 74.5% and every other racial category has seen growth in that time. All signs suggest that this pattern will continue for the foreseeable future, barring significant changes in immigration law.
My guess is that it might surprise people to know how diverse North Creek actually is. But with programs like the Northshore School District Diversity and Equity Committee, it’s clear that many of our local leaders are already spotting the trend and responding to it admirably. That response begins by seeing this growing diversity as a gift that will enrich our schools, neighborhoods and entire community.
If you or your family has a story about diversity in North Creek, we’d love to hear it and write about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.