Here is an encouraging fact to celebrate during Black History Month: Residential segregation is a thing of the past.
Racial segregation between blacks and whites has declined for four consecutive decades, according to a study based on census records through 2010 from the Manhattan Institute.
The study looks at the black population in metropolitan areas. It finds that these cities are more integrated now than they have been since 1910.
“A half-century ago, one-fifth of America’s urban neighborhoods had exactly zero black residents,” the report finds. “Today, African-American residents can be found in 199 out of every 200 neighborhoods nationwide.”
Government regulations around mortgage credit led to blacks being able to purchase homes and integrate neighborhoods more easily. The study’s authors caution those who criticize such lending policies.
“At a time when proposed regulations threaten to eliminate the market for lending to marginal borrowers, it is important to recognize that there are costs and benefits associated with tightening credit standards,” the report says.
The integration of neighborhoods is only a start, however. The authors of the study readily admit that “eliminating segregation” is “not a magic bullet. Gaps in achievement and employment are still pervasive.”
And there is still segregation in the schools and within communities. Martin Luther King Jr. noted more than 40 years ago that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. It still is.
So it’s not enough to live in desegregated neighborhoods. We need to desegregate our lives if we are to end inequality and foster true diversity.
Here’s to working toward that goal.
Akilah Bolden-Monifa is a freelance writer based in Oakland, Calif. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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