MEDFORD, ORE. — When Dylan Daniel first moved to the Rogue Valley, he said it was different, to say the least.
Especially growing up in a place like Seattle.
“Whether you’re downtown, at the market, there was always something to do,” Daniel said. “Something to eat, different cultures to experience.”
He’s been in the Rogue Valley with his wife and kids for about 16 years now. The Medford barber admits the lack of diversity in the Rogue Valley was hard for him in the beginning.
The US Census Bureau said less than 1% of the area is black.
But Daniel said he’s been able to put his feet down and grow.
“People have been good to me here,” Daniel said “Every now and then you have things that maybe you don’t agree with, but for the most part, I’ve been able to handle anything that comes.”
Medford video game designer and mom Jessica Murrey was born and raised in Southern Oregon, so her experience is vastly different. She said growing up black in the Rogue Valley was interesting, but she said she had a wonderful childhood.
Murrey could tell at an early age, she was different, even from her own family.
“What I got from media, what it meant to be black is a lot of times there’s a lot of negative stereotypes and assumptions around being black,” Murrey said. “And I think for a long time I took those on.”
But as Murrey got older, she realized that being different wasn’t a bad thing at all.
“My mom and my grandparents were amazing. They raised me I had incredible friends,” Murrey said. “I had a community that loved and supported me.”
Both said they’ve seen a lot of growth in the Rogue Valley, and their young families are happy here.
For Daniel, what helps is being the best version of himself.
“I think my kids and people who come up after me who are young, you know, they need, they need that,” Daniel said.
Murray said she would also love to empower Southern Oregonians to have conversations about race and to embrace who they are.
“If they feel different, if they feel alone, to feel, to find beauty in that difference,” Murrey said. “I feel like I can do a lot more with youth coming up.”
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