Asians, Blacks and Latinos Mixing Up White Areas

National Journal

Segregation is nowhere close to being over, but neighborhoods across the country are steadily integrating.

A snapshot by the Brookings Institution—using 2010 Census data—shows that Latinos, blacks, and Asians are starting to move more to multiracial or white-dominated neighborhoods. Among those three racial groups, the average person lives in a neighborhood that is at least one-third white. Asians, however, live in neighborhoods that are comprised nearly half of white people.

A look at where the average white person lives tells a much different story on the surface, as he or she likely lives in a neighborhood that is 77 percent white. But, as Brookings points out, there is more to tell here. While these neighborhoods are just 9 percent Latino and 7 percent black on average, those numbers are larger today than they were three decades ago. In 1980, the average white person lived in a neighborhood that was 90 percent white.

Neighborhoods are becoming less homogenous. As Latino and Asian migration expands to previously white-dominated areas—and blacks continue to move toward the suburbs and integrated communities—the culture of these neighborhoods will change with the shift, notes Brookings.

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This country has a long history of neighborhood segregation, which led to widespread economic and housing discrimination. Inequality in environment, health, and education came with it. More integration in neighborhoods doesn't mean an end to discrimination, though.

Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute adds a major caveat to this data:

"In 1940, the average black lived in a neighborhood that was 40 percent white. In 1950, it fell to 35 percent—where it remains today. This average, of course, aggregates data from many neighborhoods where blacks have virtually no exposure to whites, and others where integration is advanced. Nonetheless, by this measure there has been no progress in reducing segregation for the last 60 years."

White neighborhoods may be becoming less white, but that doesn't mean inequality between racial groups is improving.