America’s cities are becoming less segregated, according to a new report by the Manhattan Institute.
The report names several reasons for the racial integration:
- Black people have moved to the suburbs. There are very few all-white neighborhoods these days. Most neighborhoods have at least a few black residents.
- Ghettos are emptying out. We’ve certainly seen this in Rochester. One census tract in northeast part of the city lost one-third of its residents in the last decade. Some of this has to do with public housing policies that fostered integration. The study noted, however, that while all-white neighborhoods are becoming extinct, the number of predominantly black neighborhoods declined only 7 percent from 2000 to 2010.
- Gentrification and immigration. White people and immigrants are moving into ghettos in some cities, though this is seen as a minor factor.
What’s the story in Rochester?
The report found only slightly more integration here in the last decade. A look at the numbers shows segregation still persists.
Rochester’s Dissimilarity Index went from 65 percent in 2000 to 62 percent in 2010. That means 62 percent black people would have to move to create even distribution of races.
Rochester’s Isolation Index went from 36 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2010. That means the average black person lives in a neighborhood with 34 percent more black people than the metropolitan average.
Buffalo is more segregated than Rochester. Albany is less segregated. Syracuse is about the same. Binghamton was on the list of top 10 metro areas with the largest increases in segregation.
Why do we care?
Separate is unequal, as our history has taught us. Integration is important to decrease racism, isolation and poverty. It’s also important to increase opportunity and equality. But the study’s authors conclude racial integration is not a cure-all:
Yet we now know that eliminating segregation was not a magic bullet. Residential segregation has declined pervasively, as ghettos depopulate and the nation’s population center shifts toward the less segregated Sun Belt. At the same time, there has been only limited progress in closing achievement and employment gaps between blacks and whites.
I would have liked to see a report on economic and educational segregation, as well. Nothing’s a “magic bullet,” but our community still feels pretty segregated, doesn’t it?