“Black flight” to Charles County, Maryland?

Charles County, a suburban county south of Washington D.C. has experienced population growth in recent years, possibly as the result of “black flight”:

From 2000 to 2010, Charles County’s population rose by 21.6 percent, going from 120,546 to 146,551, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At the same time, non-Hispanic whites dropped as a proportion of the county’s total population from 67.3 percent to 48.4 percent.

In a decade, the county went from being whiter than the state of Maryland to being a minority-majority jurisdiction.

“You think about the notion of white flight, there’s also the notion of black flight, or Latino flight,” said Kris Marsh, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland who specializes in the study of the black middle class.

“As Prince George’s County moves from a white-dominated county to a black-dominated county, there could be some black households that decide that they don’t want to live in a black-dominated community, so they move out to Howard County … or out to Charles County,” Marsh explained.

“White flight” is a well-known phenomenon that covers the movement of whites away from growing minority populations, particularly in large cities or denser suburbs. I’ve never heard the term “black flight” before though conversation about the movement of the black middle class has generated academic discussion for several decades now. It would be interesting to know how the communities in Charles County, and in some of the other nearby counties which are also mentioned in this story, are adjusting to new populations in areas that still have relatively few people.

Overall, this is a reminder that minority and immigrant populations are growing in suburban areas even though many still think of the suburbs as homogenous white, middle- to upper-class areas.

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