Segregation and Census 2010

In this second installment in a very short series on the 2010  U.S. Census results, we’ll look at one parsing of that data by John Logan of Brown University and Brian Stults of Florida State University . The focus here, at Census Analysis: Nation’s diversity grows, but integration slows, is black, Latino, white, and Asian residential patterns.

How is integration slowing? Here are the bullet findings:

  • Black-white segregation averaged 65.2 in 2000 and 62.7 now.
  • Hispanic-white segregation was 51.6 in 2000 and 50 today.
  • Asian-white segregation has grown from 42.1 to 45.9.

As Logan and Stults point out, white Americans basically live in mostly white neighborhoods—77% white. That is down from 88% white in 1980, but still pretty segregated. Black and Latino Americans live in black and Latino neighborhoods, and Asian Americans, whose integration rate into white neighborhoods had been growing, now increasingly live in Asian or other non-white neighborhoods.

Black and Latino neighborhoods are becoming even more homogenous. I happened to hear Dr. Logan on the radio explain it this way: if, in 1990, you were a Latino, you lived in a neighborhood that was mostly Latino, but not entirely. It might be 50% Latino, 30% black, 20% Asian. But in 2010, that same neighborhood is likely to be %70 Latino, 20% black, and 10% Asian. The same goes for black Americans–their neighborhoods are increasingly less racially diverse.

This is explicable when it comes to Latinos because of increased Latino immigration–there are more Latinos coming into the U.S. and moving into majority Latino neighborhoods. (This is particularly true in the southwest.) One in 6 Americans is now Latino; this is reflective of increased Latin American immigration since the 1970s.

In the case of black Americans, the increasing homogeneity of black neighborhoods may be due to the falling rate of Asian integration into white neighborhoods and the slow pace of Latino integration. Again, on the radio Dr. Logan said that white neighborhoods are usually integrated first by Asian people, then by Latino people, and then by black people. If fewer Asian and Latino people are integrating, there is less integration by black people.

It will be interesting to learn in a few years, when sociologists conclude their investigations, why Asian American segregation is increasing, and how quickly Latinos move out of new-immigrant neighborhoods into mixed neighborhoods. Every new immigrant group starts out in homogenous immigrant neighborhoods—every major American city has its Little Italy, Chinatown, Little India, etc. It’s natural to live amongst people who speak your language and share your experiences. But then they begin to move out, and to integrate into non-immigrant society. The fact that black Americans remain least likely to integrate is a red flag to all Americans, a wake-up call saying we all need to get over the slave-era idea that black Americans are different—too different—from all other Americans to assimilate.

While integration should move faster, I remain optimistic. At least it continues to happen. As usual, the U.S. leads the way in integrating people of literally every nation, race, culture, religion, and ethnicity in the world into one American people. As we see European nations just now beginning, in the last two decades, to try to cope with serious immigration from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and struggling with race riots, protests, and fascist movements as a result, we remember that it is always hard for human beings to live together, and it takes a concerted effort to make that possible in this nation—an effort we have to continually renew.

Next time: summarizing the data

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