The emptying out of African-American neighborhoods in the heart of this city is bemoaned by many who are battling the decline. But in an unexpected twist, the flight of blacks to other city neighborhoods and nearby suburbs in Missouri and Kansas has created an unforeseen result that is generally greeted with optimism: desegregation.
Blacks’ move to suburbia has accelerated in the past decade, shifting the racial make-up of urban and suburban neighborhoods across the nation. The change is particularly striking here because of the area’s long history of racial segregation…
“It’s as much the fact that city ghettos are being broken up as the fact that suburbs are beginning to integrate,” says Kansas City native John Logan, a Brown University sociologist who did the analysis. “It’s one of the places that I would describe as a success in the making, after a long history of intense segregation.”
The decline in segregation here is even more striking than drops in Detroit and New Orleans, areas with similar racially charged histories that are losing black populations. Detroit may be less segregated because blacks have left the area in search of jobs in the Sun Belt. Segregation has declined in New Orleans partly because many blacks were displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Does this mean that more blacks have joined the middle class and then are moving to the suburbs or is the move to the suburbs motivated by a search for jobs and opportunities in order to join the middle class? And what are the consequences of this for cities?
This is one of the most important trends in suburbs today: more minorities and immigrants moving to the suburbs. How this changes the face of suburbia in the next few decades will be fascinating to watch.
(More evidence of this trend here.)