Cincinnati may offer a compelling example of what it takes to desegregate. It progressed enough toward desegregation from 2000-10 to fall off a list of “hypersegregated” cities. Princeton University sociologist Doug Massey, who released the list this year, uses five traditional measures of black-white segregation, and he considers areas that score highly on at least four of those measures to be hypersegregated.
Eleven other cities have fallen off Massey’s list since 2000: Atlanta; Buffalo, N.Y.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Indianapolis; Louisville, Ky.; Pittsburgh and York, Pa.; Springfield, Mass.; Toledo, Ohio; and Washington, D.C.
Metro areas that have made the least progress – still with high marks in all five segregation measures – are Birmingham, Ala.; Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit; Flint, Mich.; Milwaukee; and the St. Louis metro area, which includes Ferguson, where the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer last year sparked nationwide protests.
According to Massey, what works to decrease hypersegregation?
Other than zoning for affordable housing in the suburbs, segregation is less about policy and more about economic opportunity and “the degree of local racial prejudice,” Massey said.
May more cities have such success even as dealing with these two issues – providing more economic opportunity and limiting racial prejudice – are not easy tasks.