This morning we looked at a demographics paper by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity that looked at the phenomenon of suburban diversity, and found that while they tended to have tons of advantages over segregated communities (political balance, integrated schools, economic opportunity, increased cultural tolerance), they were also the least stable in terms of demographics. The data strongly suggested that while racially diverse communities were more likely to resegregate than segregated communities were to integrate, this was not a bidirectional phenomenon: it suggests that people of colour (PoCs) move in to white communities, while white people move out of integrated communities.
The relevant question is why is this happening? Is this truly an example of white people being horrible xenophobes who hate brown people? Is it simple in-group preference wherein people simply prefer to live with people who look like them and/or share a culture? Perhaps it’s a cohort effect whereby white people in suburbs have been there longer as a group, and have therefore had more time to accumulate wealth – wealth they use to afford to live in ‘nicer’ neighbourhoods that PoCs simply can’t afford yet?
Any self-respecting skeptic will likely recognize that it could be (and probably is) some combination of all of these things. The relative strength of each of these forces is going to vary widely due to factors geographic, historical, socioeconomic, academic – there’s a lot of moving parts to the equation. However, the authors point explicitly to a few mechanisms by which racial discrimination (systemic and otherwise) plays a major role in resegregating communities. Get ready to rage. [Read more…]