Segregation Rising

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     Atlanta            Reading about the impact of mortgage lending discrimination and gentrification in New York City and its metropolitan area, this snippet jumped out at me:

New York was ranked the ninth most segregated city in the country, according to a June study by the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California Berkeley. And the broader New York area, including parts of northern New Jersey and Long Island, was the most segregated metro area in the country. “This is basically Detroit, 1980, or South Africa apartheid — that’s what New York City is,” said Stephen Menendian, the director of research at the institute. “It’s highly, highly segregated.”

I knew Menendian via email, where he had been copied back and forth on some work we were doing with the Voter Purge Project.  I had just met with John Powell, the director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at a coffeehouse in Berkeley only a couple of weeks ago.  Reaching out for Stephen, he seemed to be saying that his dramatic quote was only half of it.  In an email he shared,

The NYT reporter walked through our maps while on the phone with me, and I was stunned by how high the regional segregation figures were for New York.  I wasn’t speaking in hyperbole, the numbers really are sky high!

That’s New York, but what about the rest of the country.  Looking at their study is depressing and mindboggling.  It is not that we have made no progress in dealing with segregation, but anyone who thinks we have made much across the country is whistling Yankee Doodle.

The Othering and Belong Institute’s report included these key summary points:

  1. Out of every metropolitan region in the United States with more than 200,000 residents, 81 percent (169 out of 209) were more segregated as of 2019 than they were in 1990
  2. Rustbelt cities of the industrial Midwest and mid-Atlantic disproportionately make up the top 10 most segregated cities list, which includes Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Trenton
  3. Out of the 113 largest cities examined, only Colorado Springs, CO and Port St. Lucie, FL qualify as “integrated” under our rubric
  4. Neighborhood poverty rates are highest in segregated communities of color (21 percent), which is three times higher than in segregated white neighborhoods (7 percent)
  5. Black children raised in integrated neighborhoods earn nearly $1,000 more as adults per year, and $4,000 more when raised in white neighborhoods than those raised in highly segregated communities of color
  6. Latino children raised in integrated neighborhoods earn $844 more per year as adults, and $5,000 more when raised in white neighborhoods than those raised in highly segregated communities of color
  7. Household incomes and home values in white neighborhoods are nearly twice as high as those in segregated communities of color
  8. Homeownership is 77 percent in highly segregated white neighborhoods, 59 percent in well-integrated neighborhoods, but just 46 percent in highly segregated communities of color
  9. 83 percent of neighborhoods that were given poor ratings (or “redlined”) in the 1930s by a federal mortgage policy were as of 2010 highly segregated communities of color
  10. Regions with higher levels of racial residential segregation have higher levels of political polarization, an important implication in the context of gerrymandering and voter suppression
  11. The most segregated regions are the Midwest and mid-Atlantic, followed by the West Coast
  12. Southern states have lower overall levels of segregation, and the Mountain West and Plains states have the least

Let that all settle in.  Look around your own neighborhood.  Time to stop pretending and listening to excuses.  Time to face reality and do something about it.