ing with your own experience, and, trying
to have the conversation in person, as
nuance and emotion are hard to express
online. The overall atmosphere of the
gathering was upbeat and welcoming.
The challenges are not new. In July
;;;;, Maplewood police tried to move
a group of reportedly rowdy young
people, many of whom were black, into
neighboring Irvington, as if they weren’t
Maplewood residents. Four youths were
arrested in the fray, which occurred after
a fourth of July fireworks display. Police
were videotaped kicking and punching
some of the teens. The incident resulted
in a federal lawsuit, the forced retirement
of the police chief and a captain, and
the punishment of six o;cers. Another
federal suit against the South Orange/
Maplewood school district and other parties attempts to address a long-standing
achievement gap and di;erences in discipline for white and minority students.
Both suits are pending, but in May, the
school district announced an integration
plan realigning all but one of its schools.
The coalition has numerous other initiatives. It provides town tours for prospective
homebuyers and new teachers, o;ers seminars on talking to children about race, and
tracks demographic changes. It recently
issued a report showing both South Orange
and Maplewood becoming whiter as houses
become more expensive.
Three years ago, Keli Tianga, a mom,
started the coalition’s monthly integrated
playgroups, in which up to ;; to ;; parents and children under age six gather at a
local preschool to encouraging interracial
friendships. She invites families to bring
guests of a race di;erent from their own.
“It’s getting it out of the way at the very
beginning of a conversation,” says Tianga.
“Everyone relaxes a bit, so race is some-
thing we can feel comfortable discussing
in this space, not tiptoeing around.”
Some members of the Saturday group
have become full-time friends.
“Misconceptions about people’s values
and people’s intelligence,” says Tianga,
“can be confronted when you have people
right in your home, your dinner table,
your barbecue, talking about things
that you talk about and you value, and
understanding that those things are not
di;erent across racial or ethnic lines.”
Tina Kelley is a frequent contributor to
New Jersey Monthly.
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To Our Partner
Jerry S. D’Aniello, Esq.
Being Sworn In as President of the
NJ Chapter of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
And to 2018-2019 Officers and
New Members of the Board of Managers
Jerry is the managing partner of the Somerset County office and
devotes his practice exclusively to all aspects of divorce and family law.
Jerry is a seasoned litigator but also serves as a mediator and arbitrator in Family Law matters.
Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law attorney,
he takes great pride and care in helping his clients successfully
make it through these difficult personal matters.
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