America’s Most Segregated Cities Likely to Stay That Way

 America’s Most Segregated Cities Likely to Stay That Way

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The recent report that America’s most segregated cities are just as -- if not more -- segregated than they were a couple of decades ago is hardly a revelation. The report focused on the top 10 most segregated cities. But this could easily be expanded to find vast and unbroken pockets of racial segregation in many of the nation’s smaller and mid-size cities as well. A casual drive through any of the major urban neighborhoods in America, a walk through the neighborhood schools, hospitals, and clinics reveal the stark pattern of the two Americas. In fact, even three or four urban Americas: an America that is poor, black and Latino; an America that is black and middle class; an America that is white, working class and middle class; and one that’s white and wealthy.

But whichever urban America one travels through, the line dividing the neighborhoods is as deep as the Grand Canyon. There are the usual suspects to blame for the rigid segregation. Poverty, crime, lender redlining, a decaying industrial and manufacturing inner city, white and middle-class black and Hispanic flight, crumbling inner-city schools, the refusal of major business and financial institutions to locate in minority neighborhoods, and cash-strapped city governments that have thrown in the towel on providing street repairs and basic services.

This tells a big part of the story of the chronic segregation, but it's only part of the story. The painful truth three years after the election of America’s first black president is that there are far too many policy makers, political leaders, and many whites that still think that segregation is too much a longstanding, even immutable, way of life in America to ever change. The entire history of Northern urban segregation is damning proof of that.

In the decades before the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the great migration of blacks from the South before and after both World Wars, and the flight of whites from urban neighborhoods to the suburbs locked in place the economic, social, and political mindset that racial segregation was a fact of life in the North and would stay that way. Redlining, zoning laws, and the federal government’s deliberate policy of bolstering residential segregation insured that. Even as the Jim Crow barriers tumbled in the South and blacks and whites mingled in schools, public facilities, and more and more neighborhoods, residential segregation in the North remained America’s idée fixe.

Every census report in the post-Civil Rights era and the countless Urban League’s State of Black America reports showed that the inner cities continued to get blacker and browner and poorer, while the suburbs got whiter and more well to do. That trend isn’t likely to change.

With President Obama and Congressional leaders trying to figure out where to cut every penny they can from education, health care and employment programs, there is absolutely no chance of any new spending or initiatives to be put on the legislative table to deal with the continuing decay of urban neighborhoods. Some experts have pointed to the increasing gentrification by young whites and non-blacks of some urban neighborhoods as a hopeful sign that residential segregation could in time pass away. That’s not likely. In fact, studies have shown that gentrification has not altered the neighborhood racial segregation patterns as much as is popularly presented. Many of the old homes that have been renovated as chic, pricey, apartments and townhouses, have been gobbled up, not by whites and non-blacks, but by upwardly-mobile black professionals. They are upscale, but they are still black, and so are the freshly gentrified neighborhoods they live in.

Urban racial segregation, then, may not be the permanent lot of American society, but if past decades and current policies are any sign, America’s most segregated cities will stay that way for more census counts to come.


Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington, D.C. streamed on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on blogtalkradio.com and wfax.com and Internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson


 

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Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

What a weak "commentary." Wow! A lot of words and yet the page is still empty. Mr. Hutchinson managed to write an entire article and say absolutely nothing. At least he gets to plug his internet radio show. New America Media has the ability to get writers to add a different take on issues relevant to many different ethnic groups, why continue to publish these stale ideas on regurgitated cliches from Mr. Hutchinson?

Anonymous

Posted Apr 3 2011

Doesn't mention that segregation in the burbs that Orfield has been documenting.
http://www.urbanhabitat.org/ node/2809
Segregation is Still Wrong and Still Pervasive
Yet:"By the mid-century, minorities are expected to make up the majority of the population."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1371538/Census-maps-Black-Hispanic-population-centred-South.html
The polarised race map of America: Census shows Midwest emptying out as growing minority groups cluster on opposite sides of the country
while I say US is on track to become a neo-South Africa.. I should point out South African large cities are federated, which is still something considered too radical in US (even though just about every continent has such cities -including the North American continent (in Canada)....Lee Kuan Yew was very far sighted when he decided to prevent ghettoization after seeing ethnic riots in Malaysia and decided Singapore wouldn't give its people the chance to be segregated this way...Ghettoization in on course to destroy the American economic when demographics overturn current status quo.
For South Africa see for example:
http://www.tshwane.gov.za/ AboutTshwane/Pages/default. aspx

Anonymous

Posted Apr 12 2011

No one ever seems to count "self segregation." We naturally gravitate to those with whom with identify. He also forgot to include poor and white Appalachia, where, for some reason, being poor doesn't lead to an increase in crime.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 12 2011

Living as I do in one of those cities in the "top 10 most segregated" I can tell you that the truth of the matter is that no one wants to live near poor white people either. We have plenty of them. Wealthy and middle-class blacks, whites and asians live in close proximity in certain neighborhoods while the poor and working class of all ethnicities live in their own separate enclaves.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 14 2011

If I could sell my house and get out of my neighborhood, I would. I house is surrounded on three sides by Black families. Dozens of kids, no fathers. There's drug trafficking, raucous behavior, and litter. They rob non-Blacks and destroy property of non-Black property owners. No one works but everyone has a cell phone, new car, flashy clothes and receives government assistance. I wasn't racist when I moved in, but I certainly am now. These people are the scum of the earth.

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