Sunday, April 01, 2007

Black exodus?

In today's Chicago Tribune, a side article on the feature story about the typical migration from city to suburb to exurb had a bit of interesting information.

You may or may not have heard that recently the Census Bureau released data saying that Cook County lost the third most population in the first five years of the decade (behind New Orleans' and Detroit's counties). But as it turns out, this is not white flight from the city. In actuality,
African-Americans, once constricted by racism to certain areas within the city, now are leaving Chicago for the suburbs and beyond, in numbers double those of whites.
Is this a positive sign? Are suburbs becoming more welcoming to minorities? According to the authors, it would seem so. They note,
African-Americans are accepted today in many more suburbs than in the past.
They do observe, though, that continued change is needed.
But not everywhere. When...settlement patterns [are mapped] across the region...about a third of all suburbs have fewer than 25 African-American households each -- and, in some cases, none at all.
"Things aren't as bad as they used to be," notes Northwestern University geographer John C. Hudson. The authors conclude,
However, the remaining effects of racism, less overt than they once were but present nonetheless, continue to limit African-American housing choices. As a result, blacks, particularly working-class and low-income families, still don't have the same freedom of movement as whites.


Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg said...

So Westy, one thing that you've really forced me to think about is Urban vs. Suburban living. I honestly didn't give this much thought back in college (or before).

One thought that amuses me now is the fact that I had always considered U. of I.'s campus in Champaign-Urbana to be a suburb, but I suppose many people could argue that it's a city. Furthermore, I'm now wondering if it would be fair to say that people who live in the dorms more closely model "urban living" and those in off-campus apartments more closely model "suburbanites." I don't have solid answers for these questions, but they have popped into my head. My only point is that back when I was in college, given my background of growing up in suburbs, I simply viewed our campus as a glorified suburb.

As for the Chicago suburbs, they've been changing at an accelerating pace for decades. In fact, I'm reminded of these lyrics from a John Mayer song:

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too