Results from the 2010 census reveal how much ground's been broken in race relations over the past decade. For example, multiracial youth are the fastest growing segment of young people, and interracial marriage is rising rapidly in a region where it was once hotly contested--the American South. But not all of the census data on race relations brings good news. The findings on residential racial patterns show that the U.S. remains overwhelmingly segregated.
Thanks to white flight, housing discrimination and job losses in inner cities, to name a few, blacks, whites and Latinos all too often live apart in the United States. Midwesterners are more likely than any other regional group in the U.S. to live in racially divided cities. Six Midwestern metropolises (with urban cores of at least 500,000) have the dubious distinction of making America's most segregated city list, as compiled by CensusScope.org and the University of Michigan's Social Science Data Analysis Network. I've reprinted the list below. Does your city appear?
10. Los Angeles
7. St. Louis
6. Buffalo, N.Y.
2. New York
So, why was Milwaukee named the most segregated city of all? Like other cities on the list, Milwaukee's history includes zoning ordinances, restrictive covenants and realtors which functioned collectively to keep blacks away from whites. But Milwaukee stands out for having "the lowest rate of African-American suburbanization of any of these larger cities," Professor Marc Levine of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, told Salon.com. While African Americans all over the nation dwell in both suburbs and urban centers, a staggering 90 percent of black Milwaukeeans live in the city. The fact that suburban whites oppose the creation of affordable housing on the city's outskirts, not to mention public transportation that would connect the city to the suburbs, only adds to the problem.
"I think there are still some people who don't want to live with people who have different skin colors than theirs," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the Chicago Tribune.
Not all of the cities on the list were considered segregated because of where blacks live in relation to whites. Take New York and Los Angeles, for instance. In both cities--the United States' largest two--Latinos live in highly segregated neighborhoods, according to the report. Meanwhile in Detroit and Chicago, both extremely racially divided, the Latino population is booming. And in Chicago's North side neighborhood of Rogers Park, there's a mix of Latinos, blacks, whites and Asians. Too bad Chicago's also the city known for building the 14-lane Dan Ryan expressway, in part, to physically separate black and white neighborhoods.
So, ten years from now when the next census is conducted, will the major U.S. cities remain largely segregated? Yes, says activist and columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson. He remarked in a recent editorial:
"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."