Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Rolf Pendall: Racial Segregation is Still a Reality

Rolf responds to Glaeser and Vigdor:

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research’s website made a triumphal proclamation this week that we have reached “the end of the segregated century.” The New York Times dutifully spread the news, leading with the headline “Segregation Curtailed in U.S. Cities, Study Finds.” The story beneath the spin, however, shows that segregation isn’t just a phenomenon to look back on regretfully during African American History Month (which begins today). Segregation lives on in far too many American cities.

In 1970, two years had elapsed since Congress enacted the end of private-sector apartheid with the Fair Housing Act; only a few years before that, President Kennedy had ordered the desegregation of public housing. Why should we wonder that segregation levels have declined since then? Shouldn’t the real story be that in the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area, Chicago, over 70 percent of African Americans would have to move to a predominantly non-black neighborhood (or the same proportion of whites would have to move to mostly non-white areas) to achieve an even racial distribution? Chicago isn’t the only metropolitan area in this position: Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis also surpass 70 on this segregation index. New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia—that is, a continuous band of urbanization stretching from just north of Washington, DC, to the middle of Connecticut with well over 25 million inhabitants—stand between 60 and 65. The heart of the northeast corridor still lives in a segregated century, as does the fringe of the Great Lakes. Even “less segregated” metropolitan areas still have levels of racial segregation far higher than the Fair Housing Act promised.
Rolf underscores an uncomfortable point--that Northern cities have more black-white segregation than Southern cities.  The largest city in my home state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is the most segregated large city in the country. 


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