For a long time, the phrase suburban voter has been code for white voter. But suburbs are now among the most diverse spaces in American life, and tension is growing over who belongs in suburbia as NPR’s Sandhya Dirks reports.
The primary arena for conflict in this report involves politics:
DIRKS: Last year, white parents and some white folks who weren’t parents screamed at local school board meetings over teaching kids about racism or having diversity and inclusion programs. Most of the places where those fights flared were suburbs, and they were suburbs that are changing, suburbs that have grown more diverse. In some cases, like in Gwinnett County, they are also suburbs where Black people have started to get elected to local seats, like school boards.
KERNODLE: The difference between now and then is that we have power too.
DIRKS: Because as suburbs change, so does the power of the suburban vote.
This tension extends to numerous other areas including neighborhoods, housing, jobs, and schooling.
More broadly, this part of the process of “complex suburbia” where suburbs are changing. Some communities are changing faster than others, with these rates likely tied to social factors and patterns of resources and influence.