Detroit one of top segregated cities in America
Being fourth is not usually something to be proud of, but for Detroit is a huge leap forward. For many years the city has been cited as the most segregated community in the country, but new census numbers released last month show the city’s segregation is beginning to break down.
And Salon.com has a fantastic piece reviewing the historic and economic issues behind the traditional segregation and why it is changing today. The article notes that whites fled the city in the 70s and 80s as the auto industry and other manufacturing options moved to the suburbs. Most African Americans could not afford to follow the jobs, and the city fell into horrendous unemployment.
This combined with the historic violence used to create the segregation from the 20s to the 60s led to the “urban ghetto,” Salon reports.
But not anymore.
The new census numbers show large numbers of blacks moving to the suburbs, and increasing integration as a result: Detroit’s dissimilarity index fell a dramatic 10 points since 2000, one of the largest decreases nationwide. This good news, however, is only made possible by the broader economic disaster.
“Blacks are fleeing the city and are following the path of least resistance into formerly all-white bastions like Warren and Harper Woods, where houses are often on the market for months or years,” says [Tom] Sugrue [a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of "The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit."]. “But many whites, trapped by the collapsing housing market, are unable to move. Hence a decline in segregation rates.”
Detroit is topped by Milwaukee, WI; New York City and Chicago.