When white mothers ask a mother of color at a school open house, “Do you live in town?,” that is a form of discrimination, according to Darien artist Nobu Miki.

“They obviously live there since their kids go to that school,” said Miki, adding a minority woman she knows was asked that question.

Miki is forming a support group for women of color in town. She said there’s a great need for such a group, and would like to spread the word.

“I’m hoping my support group will help them make new friends,” she said.

She envisions leading a monthly Zoom session, where “privacy is protected and our discussions won’t be shared without their permission,” she said.

She said she hopes a therapist can volunteer to join the group as an adviser.

Those interested in learning more about Miki’s support group may send an email to nobu.artist@gmail.com.

A voice

Miki said she experienced a lot of discrimination when she first moved to Darien 17 years ago.

“My kids went to school in Darien. I was isolated and struggled with making friends and bullying issues,” she said.

When she heard similar stories from other minority mothers recently while chatting on an online Facebook page, “I was shocked to learn that this treatment hadn’t changed at all in more than 10 years,” she said.

With the name she said she has made for herself through her artwork, she said she’s in a position to be a voice for other minority women in town.

For more about Nobu Miki, visit artbynobu.com.

“Isolated and struggling”

Miki said she has heard from many women of color in Darien who say they’re “isolated and struggling.”

“I’m a minority and I do know the pain,” she said.

Forming friendships in a town that’s more than 95 percent white, such as Darien, is especially difficult, according to Miki.

“It’s hard for minorities to make friends with white people,” she said. “It’s hard to belong to existing groups of friends without somebody’s help. Someone usually has to invite the minority to the groups.”

Through her personal experiences and from those of other minority women with whom she has spoken, she said women of color “are often afraid of attending school open houses and other public events in Darien.”

According to Miki, they feel they’re “forced” to be outsiders.

“People pretend they don’t see us, even when we are in front of them, between two white people. They make no eye contact,” she said. “They talk to each other, ignoring the minority in the middle like she isn’t there.”

“We often call ourselves ‘transparent people,’” Miki said. “People completely ignore when a minority is standing alone at a party or at a school event.”

She added that sometimes, “white people don’t realize how much their words and behavior can offend minorities.”

She added that while women of color “have been patient, they keep thinking of moving to other towns or cities,” she said.

“Minorities are afraid to speak up,” she said. “Their voices should be heard.”

Miki said while there isn’t a “dramatic racism issue here in Darien, I think a support group is just what this community needs.”

“I went through hard times just like other minorities, but it’s over for me. I feel I’m now accepted by this community nicely, through my art,” she said. “Now it’s time for me to help other minority women in Darien, and I hope I could be a bridge to the community for them.”

Miki continued, “Sharing pain with other minority women and supporting each other, and trying to think how I can make their situation improve — these are small actions but I know even just talking helps.”

sfox@darientimes.com