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Race, Place, and Segregation: Redrawing the Color Line in Our Nation's Metros

On November 16, 2001, CRP held its first conference on housing and civil rights, sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Joint Center for Housing Studies, and The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.


Professor Gary Orfield, Director of The Civil Rights Project (CRP) announced a collaboration between CRP, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, CommUNITY 2000, and The Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, to produce 4 ground breaking housing studies on 3 significant metropolitan areas: Boston, Chicago, and San Diego. These studies examine the changing racial landscape as evidenced in the 2000 Census data.

A small number of communities are becoming increasingly white as gentrification is occurring and some multi-racial communities are developing. Within a rapidly changing metropolitan community, there are new possibilities and new risks. Communities need to address concerns about equity and access to adequate housing, transportation and employment opportunities, and to coordinate regionally to begin to deal effectively with a more complex metropolitan space.

Guy Stuart, a leading housing expert from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, sees serious consequences for school-age children: "The people most damaged by this dynamic are children who are separated from their peers of different races and ethnicities by school district boundaries and whose educational experience is stunted and narrowed as a result."

The Reports

BOSTON is an important case, not only as the dominant urban center of New England, but also because it has one of the largest white populations of any major metropolitan area in the United States. It is the third largest urban white population behind Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. And it is one of the places where it would be the easiest to integrate a relatively small minority population in which Latinos are the largest group. Boston's minority population itself is very diverse with Latinos, Blacks, and Asians from many countries. A major portion of the population growth is driven by immigration, which means that many new families are not tied to old patterns. Yet, despite the relatively favorable structure that exists here for achieving racial integration, the data indicate that, instead, new patterns of segregation are being established.

Race, Place, and Opportunity: Racial Change and Segregation in the Boston Metropolitan Area:
1990 - 2000
by Nancy McArdle.

CHICAGO's residents in the metropolitan area are redrawing the color line, this time in the suburbs. Since the early 1980s, African-Americans and Latinos have increasingly moved to the suburbs, but they have not been welcomed into all communities. Rather, they are experiencing segregation equivalent to that experienced in the inner city. This is showing up not only in census data but also in our study of recent home buying patterns, which indicate that, if left unaddressed, segregation is only likely to spread. Despite this gloomy picture there are some hopeful trends. There are certain suburbs that are stabilizing racially and becoming more integrated. They offer the prospect that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated in the future...

Integration or Resegregation: Metropolitan Chicago at the Turn of the New Century, by Guy Stuart, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

SAN DIEGO's minorities contributed all of [the metro's] net population growth during the 1990s, but stubbornly high levels of segregation for blacks in the City and increasing segregation rates for Latinos metro-wide suggest that much remains to be done to insure that these populations have equal access to all communities... Indeed, while whites comprise 60 percent of the total suburban population, the average Latino suburbanite lives in a census tract that is just 45 percent white, down from 58 percent white in 1990. Latino/white segregation has also increased in the City, and is now on par with black/white levels... That these segregation levels are rising faster for Latino children is especially troubling given the impacts of residential segregation on educational opportunities...

Race, Place, and Opportunity: Racial Change and Segregation in the San Diego Metropolitan Area: 1990 - 2000, by Nancy McArdle.

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