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Is Segregation in Your City Dropping?

segregation, census records

Does your city look like this picture?

America’s cities are becoming more integrated, according a new analysis of the latest census figures. But it’s not all kumbaya and colorblindness. Where we’re at now says a lot about where we haven’t been — namely, together! — this past century.

A recently released analysis of the racial make-up of zip codes around the country shows that black-white segregation is at it’s lowest since the early part of the 20th Century. The increasing integration is the result of an growing number of blacks moving into the middle class and into neighborhoods and suburbs that have typically been dominated by whites.

This is great news, especially for kids, who will benefit from growing up in more culturally and racially diverse communities. Though, for a nation as un-homogeneous as the U.S., we’re still not the melting pot we once claimed to be, according to the Associated Press.

“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 census data. “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.”

Among the most segregated cities in the U.S. are Milwaukee, Detroit and Syracuse, N.Y. — three cities that are a part of a swath of cities known among demographers as “the ghetto belt.” There, white flight and low population growth are faulted for continued separation by race.

The most integrated cities, according to the analysis, are Fort Myers, Fla., Honolulu, Atlanta and Miami. Kai Wright over at Colorlines says Houston doesn’t exactly feel integrated, but that’s pretty much an indication of how things have been totally separated we have lived over the past 100 years since this is what we’re calling a high-point of black-white integration.

The figures show that, generally, the West and the South have the least segregated populations, as do cities all over the country with a large number of jobs in the field of technology — Boston, Seattle, Austin, Houston and San Francisco.

Hispanic-white segregation was much lower in cities like Washington, D.C., Buffalo and Chicago, as well as their suburbs, but these immigrant populations are still live distinctly apart from whites, according to the numbers.

Asians were the least likely to be segregated from whites, though cities like Greensboro, S.C., and Stockton, Calif., had highly segregated Asian populations.

The New York Times has a very interesting map where you can get a glimpse of racial clustering where you live (just plug in city/state or a zip code). Totally fascinating. The map that pops up shows racial clusters of the NYC metro area — indicating large parts are still highly segregated by race.

My zip code (in Los Angeles County) shows a much more colorful mix of dots, for which I am immensely grateful. Though I would say that schools in my city of Long Beach, Calif., are still, by and large (with a few exceptions), a distinct majority of one race or ethnic group over another.

Still, this is what progress looks like and much of this change has taken place over the last 10 years — which is promising for our kids. We’re not in a post-racial America just yet. But the next generation? Fingers crossed.

How do things look in your city? Did you think you zip code would have appeared more segregated? Less? What’s keeping everyone from living together in your neck of the woods?

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