“The ghetto has moved to the suburbs”

Several sociologists discuss the patterns of residential segregation in the American suburbs which are increasingly non-white:

Logan found that, despite a decline in racial segregation and improvements in incomes marked by the rise of the black middle class, blacks and Hispanics continue to live in the least desirable neighborhoods – even when they can afford better – and their children attend the lowest-performing schools…

“Moving to the suburbs was once believed to mean making it into the mainstream,” he said. “There is something to this idea that moving on out is moving up … Yet minorities are not finding equal access to the American dream.” When neighborhoods where blacks live are compared to those where whites or Asians live, “the inequality is quite stark,” he said…

But suburban diversity clearly does not equal racial integration. Just over 10 percent of the suburban population was black in 2010, but the average black suburbanite lived in a neighborhood that was more than 35 percent black. And although about 69 percent of suburban residents were white, fewer than 45 percent of the average black suburbanite’s neighbors were white…

“Thirty years ago, it would’ve been in the city of St. Louis, but blacks moved out of St. Louis to this place [Ferguson], and whites fled,” Anderson said. “The ghetto has moved to the suburbs. It’s happening to many places in the country.”

The suburbs are no longer the sole retreat of wealthier whites but they are not exactly equal either. The study discussed here corroborates a lot of evidence that shows that even as the suburbs become less white and less wealthy (more people in poverty than cities), people are not evenly spread throughout suburban areas. Just as cities have wealthier and less wealthy neighborhoods, suburbs have a variety of communities and a number where wealthier residents have found ways to limit the arrival of others. (Property values, exclusionary zoning, gated communities, a lack of affordable housing, a lack of social services, etc.)

In other words, residential segregation is alive and well in the United States even if more people have “made it” to the suburbs.

5 thoughts on ““The ghetto has moved to the suburbs”

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