In the vastness of the Inland Empire, people of color find 'peace in these troubled times'

By Tyrone Beason, Los Angeles Times |

Fatima and Arthur Nelson II had their own reservations before they moved with their three children in early 2021 from Long Beach to Moreno Valley, a city of about 215,000 where residents ride horses on the streets and hillside trails.

But their new city’s racial diversity — which was missing in their old neighborhood — shocked them.

“It felt like a homecoming in a way,” says Fatima, 47, a community engagement specialist at UC Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation. “All of a sudden, we entered this Black community where there were all of these Black homeowners, which is a bit of a unicorn in Long Beach. I see a lot more shades and colors out here.”

The family’s ranch-style home — in a diverse middle-class neighborhood of older single-family houses — has high ceilings and a big backyard. The house may not be fancy, Fatima says, but it’s got “excellent bones” and was within the family’s budget.

Fatima has found something more elusive since moving in — an unexpected solitude.

“When I go home, it’s like it’s horns and sirens and the neighbors screaming next door,” Fatima says of Long Beach, where she grew up. “I almost feel guilty because I feel like we have fared so well.”

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