“A Dialogue on Diversity” Part 2: Brooklyn Park’s Changing Population
Brooklyn Park is more diverse than it has ever been. In fact, more than half of the population is non-white. According to city data, one in five residents were born outside of the United States. Nine percent are from Africa, 8 percent in Asia and 4 percent from Latin America. And what’s more, 26 percent of the population speak a language other than English at home.
Coming to America From Ghana
The Buabeng family is originally from Ghana, West Africa. They moved to the United States six years ago and now call Brooklyn Park home.
“I’m beginning to like the weather,” said Matilda Buabeng.
She and her husband, Francis, say they moved here to give their three children a better life.
Matilda was a teacher in Ghana and Francis worked in a bank. But they had to start new careers when they came to the Unites States. Matilda is now in nursing school, while Francis works two jobs. The two recently became U.S. citizens.
“We were proud of it. Because especially, our kids will get that opportunity to be citizens, because they were not born here,” explained Matilda.
“Our Diversity is Diverse”
As we’ve gotten more diverse, our crime rate has gone down. So our city is twice as diverse as it was, our crime rate is half.” – Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde.
The Buabeng family is part of a growing number of Africans who call Brooklyn Park home. In fact, the black/African population stands at more than 26 percent, while the Asian population is slightly over 18 percent and the Hispanic population sits at 6.1 percent. The city is changing the way they’ve done things in the past to be more inclusive of diverse communities.
Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde has been mayor for seven years and says he’s seen the demographics of the city change.
“Our diversity is diverse. So people seem to think diversity is this or that, but if you get beyond the skin color, and you go into where people are from, you find out that people, Central Africans are different than West Africans,” Lunde explained.
He says the influx of different communities is a change for the better.
“As we’ve gotten more diverse, our crime rate has gone down. So our city is twice as diverse as it was, our crime rate is half,” said Lunde.
City Initiatives Aim to Mirror Population
And with more than 50 percent of the population in Brooklyn Park being non-white, officials with the police department are recruiting officers who are reflective of the community it serves.
“We are out there recruiting cadets who are kids from schools, kids from our colleges, kids from our community. And we’re recruiting them here to bring diversity to our police department,” said Brooklyn Park Deputy Chief Mark Bruley.
Efforts are also underway to teach diversity and inclusion to city staff.
“Through a racial equity initiative, we’re doing additional training, and professional development opportunities,” explained Woke Freeman-Gbogba, Brooklyn Park’s assistant city manager.
Brooklyn Park also changed its city slogan to celebrate the many different communities who call the city home. Lunde says the city’s diversity makes it more exciting.
“I mean, it would be boring to have a city where you’re 95 percent of the city is all looks the same, thinks the same,” Lunde said.
Meanwhile, the Buabeng family say they plan to work hard and go after the American dream.
“Now, we are looking for a house to buy,” said Matilda.