- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

Black Americans experienced a notable decline in residential segregation between 1980 and 2000, but they remain the most racially isolated of minority groups, according to a newly released report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2000, blacks were 10 percent more likely to interact with whites than 20 years ago, the study, "Racial and Ethnic Residential Segregation in the United States: 1980-2000," found, creating a black-white relationship that is less segregated than ever before.
Over the same period, Hispanics and Asians saw increases in segregation, which the study attributes to their status as relative newcomers.
Non-Hispanic whites were used as the reference group for the report, meaning the results reflected the relationship between the minority groups and whites.
"African-Americans appear to be leaving urban areas and going to the suburbs," said Daniel H. Weinberg, a Census Bureau analyst who co-authored the study with John Iceland. "What jumped off the page to me was that this decline in segregation applied in every category that we examined."
The report did not explore reasons for the drop in segregation, but Mr. Weinberg said that "some will say there is less discrimination so African-Americans can move to other areas. Some will say that [people] like to live with people like them."
Mr. Weinberg said residential segregation stems from several factors, including personal choice about where to live and income-imposed restrictions.
"The bottom line is that if you live in a neighborhood where everybody is like you, you are less likely to run into people of a different race," he said.
The phenomenon of "black flight," the movement of increasingly prosperous blacks moving away from urban areas, could also play a role in the lessening segregation, Mr. Weinberg said.
De facto segregation the separation of people based on race or ethnicity without any law requiring it today is being swept away, said Cherylyn Harley, a senior fellow at the Center for New Black Leadership.
"What this is reflecting is that minorities make up the majority of the world," Miss Harley said. "This is a whole new generation that is removed from the civil rights movement, and they are looking forward. Blacks are making more and more progress, and people share similar interests across racial lines. This study is a good indicator for the future."
Other parties doubted the credibility of the report.
"This conclusion is a pants-seat projection," said Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, executive director of the Black Leadership Forum. The gentrification of some urban areas has driven up residential prices and forced many blacks to seek housing in other areas, she said, "which is part of racial balkanization," she said.
She acknowledged that "black flight" has been based on black economic advancement.
"However, that pattern should not be confused with what happens when gentrification occurs. This creates misleading information," she said.
The 2000 census found that patterns of migration for blacks led many from the West to the South into more racially mixed suburban areas.
The inner cities, however, have remained dominantly black in many areas.
The report noted that those neighborhoods continue to remain segregated.
"You still have very large black population centers that are 70, 80, 90 percent black," said Roderick Harrison, an analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
"But for these emerging black suburbs, or racially mixed suburbs, these have come about as blacks are finally able to follow the normal socioeconomic patterns."

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