Fifty years after the civil rights movement fought to end racist practices in this county, America’s neighborhoods are becoming increasingly integrated.
New findings suggest that many neighborhoods are becoming more racially balanced as Black middle class people are moving into formerly White areas in the South and the West.
According to The Associated Press, “Segregation among blacks and whites fell in roughly three-quarters of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas as the two racial groups spread more evenly between inner cities and suburbs, according to recent census data.”
Although many neighborhoods across the country are becoming increasingly integrated, this does not mean we’ve reached the post-racial Promised Land just yet. “It’s taken a Civil Rights movement and several generations to yield noticeable segregation declines for blacks,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who reviewed the findings. “But the still-high levels of black segregation in some areas, coupled with uneven clustering patterns for Hispanics, suggest that the idea of a post-racial America has a way to go.”
Latino integration was a mixed bag. While there was less Hispanic-White segregation in many large metro areas, in smaller neighborhoods the data showed that vast numbers of Latino immigrants are clustering together for support.
Despite Black-White segregation lessening in the South and West, it remained high in the Northeast and Midwest. Many cities such as Fort Myers, Florida, Honolulu, Atlanta and Miami were deemed least likely to be segregated. While Detroit, Milwaukee and Syracuse, N.Y., were some of the most segregated cities and have even been dubbed the “ghetto belt” by some demographers.
The findings are primarily based on 2010 census data and an index that measure the degree to which racial groups are spread between the inner cities and suburbs. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with 60 or above considered “highly segregated.” In 2009, the Black-White segregation reading was 27, an all time low.
The political implications of the findings are great, with formerly Black districts being harder to hold due to an influx of Latino residents. The 2010 census data will be used to form new congressional district boundaries, and new Hispanic dominated districts are expected to emerge.
Even though our neighborhoods are becoming less segregated, I wonder how much of that is driven by middle class Blacks moving out of the inner city, or by gentrification. Just anecdotally, areas like Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Harlem are increasingly becoming “less Black” due to gentrification.
The census department is scheduled to release its data on race, migration, and economics today. It’s expected to be one of the Bureau’s most detailed analysis of neighborhoods across America.