The waning of American apartheid? Residential segregation declines in U.S. metros

Sep 02, 2011

The ideal of equal housing opportunities is closer to becoming a reality in most major U.S. metro areas, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

"While black-white segregation remains high in many places, there are reasons to be optimistic that 'apartheid' no longer aptly describes much of urban America," said Reynolds Farley, an investigator at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) who studies in the United States.

According to Farley, is a lens to assess whether the U.S. has achieved the symbolized by the 2008 , when the Obama family moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Where you live determines much about what happens to your family, including where your children go to school, how easily you can access healthcare—and the quality of that care, your exposure to crime, the quality of your municipal services, your local tax rates, your access to fresh, healthy food, and whether your home appreciates or declines in value," said Farley, who has a special interest in the City of Detroit and maintains a website about the history and future of the Motor City.

Based on a wide range of evidence, including studies of his own and work by Brown University researchers, Farley says that black-white segregation is decreasing in the country's largest cities. "Even Chicago and Detroit, which were bastions of racial segregation, have become more integrated," Farley said. "And in all 394 U.S. studied, black-white segregation has declined steadily from 1980 to 2010."

In 1976, 1992, and again in 2004, Farley and colleagues conducted studies in metro Detroit to try to identify the causes of the persistently high levels of segregation in that area. Using a variety of survey approaches, the researchers tried to determine whether white residents felt comfortable with blacks living on their block, and whether they would remain if blacks moved onto their block.

The racial attitudes of white Detroiters shifted substantially during that time, the researchers found. In 1976, about 75 percent said they would be comfortable if their neighborhood had one black family. By 2004, about 93 percent said they would be comfortable with a black neighbor. Still, if the racial composition of their neighborhoods was 50-50, about half of white respondents said they would be uncomfortable in 2004.

Nevertheless, Farley says that the changes in white people's attitudes about moving away when African Americans move into a neighborhood offer strong evidence that the era of white flight is over. In 1976, 40 percent of whites said they would try to move away if their neighborhood composition became one-third black. But nearly 30 years later, 19 percent said they would try to leave.

The increase in residential integration within households is also contributing to these changes in attitudes about neighborhood integration, Farley said. "Black-white marriages are no longer rare," he said, "and the mixed-race population is growing rapidly.

"Many of the structures that created and maintained the American Apartheid system have been greatly weakened or removed. As a result, the long trend toward lower levels of black-white segregation seems sure to continue."

Farley's article on racial segregation trends appears in the current issue of Contexts, a publication of the American Sociological Association.

Explore further: Could suburban sprawl be good for segregation? Low-density neighborhoods more likely to stay integrated

More information: contexts.org/articles/issues/summer-2011/

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User comments : 15

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Bob_Kob
1.3 / 5 (4) Sep 02, 2011
Is it that hard to realise people for the most part want to be around people of their own kind? Why force this down our necks?
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 02, 2011
I wonder how a white family would be treated moving to a black neighborhood.
I know Koreans were not treated very well in Los Angeles.
ArtflDgr
1.1 / 5 (8) Sep 02, 2011
no ideology in that title...

Why force this down our necks?

because the disfavored group (made up of a class, which includes which religious group as part), has to be broken up and disenfranchised. so that over time, it fades from existence as its children are aborted, homogenized away, and gone having no place to call their own, as the other Volk do.

just cause people are ignorant of who they are copying and in their ignorance facilitating, dont mean it isnt what is is. some of us are old enough to know from family and history, what it is... but being attacked for that, helps hide it, not stop it

as it was then, is now

at one time the oppressor class was 14% of the population with 40% of the businesses, but the state fixed that then, and now too... with affirmative action for the Volk as defined by the state

cant prevent what one does not know or believe
Sean_W
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 02, 2011
Maybe before these folk use the term "Apartheid" to describe America they might want to know where the word comes from and what it means.
frajo
not rated yet Sep 03, 2011
Is it that hard to realise people for the most part want to be around people of their own kind? Why force this down our necks?

Not at all. But your quantifier "for the most part" seems to become outdated. Is it that hard to realize people for a growing part don't want to be around people of their own kind any more?

And why are you talking of forcing? The only thing having been forced down your neck is your existence. By your biological parents.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2011
this is hilarious. social studies are notoriously blind to reality.
the u.s. is heading towards a major financial malaise, probably with a few 'panic's' that will unfold periodically ( we've already had 1 in 2008...)

financial deterioration results in the rise of tribal behavior. this article has it totally wrong , as far as headlines and telling a human story goes. as far as obscure numerical observation, this could be spot on. but who cares. it is misleading.
Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2011
Is it that hard to realize people for a growing part don't want to be around people of their own kind any more?


Yes? Having a bit of variety is great, makes things interesting. The key word is a bit. When a population is too mixed, things get ugly. Nobody has common ground, common interests, common customs and being in close proximity for lengths of time create tensions. Believe me I live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

This has nothing to do with racism by the way.
Callippo
1 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2011
The segregation has its evolutionary origin, as the world want to remain colorful, not unicolor. If you mix all colors together, a khaki color of war will only result.
frajo
not rated yet Sep 04, 2011
When a population is too mixed, things get ugly.

When a population is too homogeneous, things become incestuous.

Nobody has common ground, common interests, common customs and being in close proximity for lengths of time create tensions.

Never found any common ground with my neighbourships in my nomadic life. The more homogeneous they are the higher the tensions due to the perceived nonconformities become.
The internet is the place to be.

Believe me I live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
Me, too. 15 million inhabitants in a single urban region.
hush1
3 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2011
The segregation has its evolutionary origin... - Calli

Yes. Singled cell life remains single celled.
The dominant form of life on earth.
Then came evolution.
Despite segregation.
TheQuietMan
3 / 5 (2) Sep 05, 2011
I love the stories with an outside agenda. This is one of them.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2011
"I wonder how a white family would be treated moving to a black neighborhood." - Ryggtard

I wonder why all TeaPublicans are racists.

Skin color seems to be very important to Republicans.

Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Sep 06, 2011
If this Reynolds Farley thinks that "residential segregation" is the equivalent of "apartheid" in any form, then there's no real reason to give his work credence.

While the decrease in segregation is generally a good thing (I certainly think it is), Farley would do well to keep in mind that neither segregated areas nor non-segregated areas (excepting gerymandered election boundaries) are the way they are due to government-mandated ethnic residency requirements. No legally enforced ghettos, no "whites only" neighborhoods. And that IS good.

...the era of white flight is over

The era of "white only" flight may be over... because everyone wants to flee the inner cities. It is a symptom of sanity.

And (hey, he brought it up first...) Obama's election has nothing to do with it being this way.

"American Apartheid" isn't merely waning, it doesn't exist at all.
sociologist
1 / 5 (1) Oct 30, 2011
As is often the case, if you want to find racial animosity, look in the comments section of a decent piece of research. After reading many of the comments, I see veiled bigotry, common prejudices, and multiple misunderstandings. Did anyone read the article? The evidence is very strong for racial segregation on the level of calling it "apartheid".

One person said everyone flees the inner cities. Well, only those that can afford to and clearly whites first and strongest preference is for the least diverse neighborhood. This is not due to some biological theory of wanting to be with their own kind, but rather a strong bias of white Americans against Blacks and to a lesser extent Latinos, more so than against other groups.

These issues can only be tackled with good research like the kind Dr. Farley has been conducting for decades. Thank you phyorg for posting this article.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2011
@sociologist said:
The evidence is very strong for racial segregation on the level of calling it "apartheid".


"Apartheid" is a loaded term when misused this way, and I suggest that such misuse is intentional, and politically driven, and false on its face as the word is commonly understood.

Or, if you really still think the term appropriate, feel free to start citing chapter and verse of the relevant evil laws that 1) establish and maintain such segregation, and 2) are still active and on the books.

Another thing that calling apparent segregation "apartheid" does is to discount/dismiss other factors which influence uneven ethnic population concentration levels.

What really bothers me most here is when certain people redefine terms to fit their needs (when their arguments are weak), and then proceed to blast their perceived opponents on the basis of this straw-man argument. "...rather a strong bias of white Americans against Blacks..." indeed.

Your bias is showing.