mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
American Segregation at Historic Low

Over the past six months, Via Meadia has found itself in the unfortunate position of having to report on bad news from all over the world. So it’s a refreshing change of pace when we come across some news that is unequivocally good, as we have today. An article in the Wall Street Journal reports that segregation in America has hit a historical low point and is poised to drop even further. The report, issued by the Manhattan Institute, has a good deal of positive news:

Fifty years ago, nearly half the black population lived in a ghetto, the study said, while today that proportion has shrunk to 20%. All-white neighborhoods in U.S. cities are effectively extinct, according to the report.

This is news that all Americans can be proud of. It is gratifying to see the legacy of the civil rights movement live on, and to see race be less of a factor in American life than ever before.

But while the melting pot is happily bubbling away in the nation as a whole, the report’s findings on the geography of segregation show that some regions are doing better than others. Blue state politicians have long taken pride in their commitment to civil rights and opposition to segregation, yet the places they preside over are among the least likely to reflect those commitments, in terms of multicultural mixing. Among America’s largest Metro areas, the least segregated (Dallas, Houston and Atlanta) are in the deep-red South, while Northern blue enclaves (Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland) round out the bottom of the list as relative bastions of segregation. As Americans of all colors flee the decaying cities of the rust belt for greener (and sunnier) pastures in the South and West, the blue North is quickly losing any pretense to the title of multicultural melting pot of America. In the future, Americans seeking diversity may just be heading South.

Features Icon
show comments
  • HW

    No one moves to the South in search of “diversity.” On the contrary, the geography of the South reflects the increasing desperate attempt on the part of natives to flee “diversity,” which is undermined by the federal government at every turn.

    Memphis is one of the most violent cities in America because HU

  • vanderleun

    As the Brothers Judd have it: “Convert all public housing programs into vouchers and empty out the rest of the ghetto.”

  • bub

    “In the future, Americans seeking diversity may just be heading South.”

    Good. I will be heading north then.

  • a nissen

    Spoken like a true Eastern. Many or most Blue cities that began their history mid-19th century are not bastions of segregation. This is because, as some Eastern cites, their black neighborhoods although on the wane side of town were central, full of overlooked character, and relatively small—a recipe for gentrification, dispersed displacement, and cultural decline.

    Edward Glazer has never bothered to catch any of those things on his limited radar. Others do, although they too tend to hurry over causes on the way to either smugness or preaching, e.g., Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” which happens to be reviewed on page A13 of the same WSJ edition.

    Murray limits his study to whites to “avoid conflating race with class,” but goes on to show the findings “also applicable to poor and working class African Americans and Latinos.” I guess we have to read it to find out how he manages that.

  • Heliogabalus

    HW: “No one moves to the South in search of “diversity.””

    Diversity is one of those things everyone is required to pretend to like; questioning its essential goodness leads to accusations of racism. In reality, people avoid diversity. Even the most liberal white people aren’t buying homes in the black hoods of Chicago or Cleveland, though I hear you can get housing real cheap there.

  • Toni

    a nissan: Clearly, you haven’t read Coming Apart. I doubt you intend to. So how do you know that Charles Murray “hurries over causes on his way to smugness or preaching”?

    Seems to me you’re smug in your opinion that Glaeser and Murray can’t possibly have real-world facts to bolster their conclusions, and your opinion is wholly fact-free.

  • Toni

    The South isn’t a diversity magnet. People move to Dallas, Houston and Atlanta for economic betterment. Diversity is a side effect. A very welcome one, but the jobs had to come first.

    Stagnant economies don’t diversify very well. I’d call NYC stagnant because of its overwhelming dependence on Wall Street. The sheer cost of the city is prohibitive for most migrants, within the U.S. and from abroad.

  • Luke Lea

    Not sure, but based on personal observation I would say this is largely a lower-middle-class (aka the working class) phenomenon.

    It would be ironic if the group which was assumed to be most racist — working-class whites, are least so — while upper-middle-class whites are most.

  • a nissen

    Toni, you are correct.

    So far, my Murray source is a handful of book reviews, e.g. WSJ::
    ” First, policy makers and business leaders need to shore up the economic foundations of working- and middle-class life. Globalization has paid huge dividends for the upper class, but it has undercut the earnings and job security of men (and their families) lower down the social ladder. Public policies designed to strengthen the educational opportunities (e.g., better vocational programs) and economic security (portable health-care plans) of ordinary Americans could help in renewing the economic foundations of the nation’s virtues.

    Second, as Mr. Murray notes, the members of the upper class must abandon the modern horror of being thought “judgmental”; instead, he says, they should “preach what they practice.” This does not mean turning the clock back to the 1950s or the Victorian age. It just means that the elites who control the heights of government, education, business and the popular culture could do a lot more to encourage the core American values that they themselves now live by.”

    Not for lack of interest though–just that my library hold is #74 on 4 copie. Murrary’s “law sufficiently complex is indistinguishable from no law at all” remains my all time favorite quote (in Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government,1988)

    As to Edward Glaeser’s current thought process, I am very well read up and have a good idea of what must be left out in order to trumpet:

    “Immigration and gentrification have helped convert ghettos into racially mixed communities and contributed to diversifying suburbia, said economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Jacob Vigdor of Duke University, who co-wrote the study. “Segregation is as low as we have ever seen it,” said Mr. Vigdor. “It’s an unprecedented scenario.”

    Nonetheless, I do agree with you that the proof is always in “reading the pudding” —to make hash of WRM’s latest metaphor

  • Toni

    Luke, you wrote, “It would be ironic if the group which was assumed to be most racist — working-class whites, are least so — while upper-middle-class whites are most.”

    Neither is true. I live between (not in) two of Houston’s most affluent neighborhoods. Come visit my local Kroger, Costco and Whole Foods, and I’ll show you customers, not all of them affluent, of many ethnicities and many languages.

    Then we could visit my aforementioned housekeeper, my Sister from Salvador whose daughters’ dance recital featured girls of every hue. She lives in a neighborhood of browns, blacks and whites. Her two girls are best friends with the same-age girls of a white couple a few doors down. Those girls were also in the recital, and their mom leads the local Brownie and Girl Scout troops.

    It’s a beautiful sight.

  • Toni

    a nissen, We are now in sync. Facts first, then opinions.

    I too read the WSJ review and bought a Kindle version. I’d prefer free, but I’ve read so much for so long that my poor eyes need a larger font.

    Maybe Prof. Mead will make future posts on such themes, and then we’ll be prepared to weigh in.

  • Corlyss

    The only reasons for this happy factoid is activist federal judges in the south, Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department apparatus for overseeing desegregation in the south, and the threat and reality of federal prosecution in the face of resistence.

    None of that existed in the north.

  • Corlyss

    Toni and Nissen,

    I recommend some of Murray’s earlier writings as well. His papers for AEI, for example.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service