America’s 10 Most Segregated Cities: analysis, commentary

I noticed this article from Huffington Post:

America’s 10 Most Segregated Cities

1. Detroit, Michigan

The reason I noticed was because the data showed a North/South (i.e., blue/red) divide which is something I wrote about in great detail a short while ago:

However, the HuffPo data seems to imply counterintuitive conclusions. According to the methodology of the study, the Northern ‘metropolises’ show more ‘segregation’ than the Southern ‘metropolises’. Less surprisingly, the Eastern ‘metropolises’ in general show more ‘segregation’ than the Western ‘metropolises’.

The Southern states should be given their due. They’ve come a long way, baby. Federally forced desegregation did wonders for the South. It has never quite been the same since. I went to a desegregated public school in the Deep South and so I can attest to this fact. One commenter said it well:

Southern cities were the first cities under mandatory court supervisio­n to practice desegregat­ion with bussing, anti-redli­ning experiment­s and a variety of mandated reforms. In my view many of those practices and reforms were successful­l in reforming some of the big cities of the old south. That naturally doesn’t include Texas, Arkansas or the rural areas of the south. Those places are only bitterly desegregat­ed. I don’t think we’re talking necessaril­y about race hatred in this article but about old died-in-th­e-wool housing, schooling, and industrial patterns. The north is clearly lagging in that respect, while the west because of it’s almost complete freedom from those patterns is the default leader. Southern cities get kudos for enlightene­d desegregat­ion efforts, while certain Yankee communitie­s need to be recognized as bastions of liberty and prosperity­. Vermont I’m thinking of you. As an immigrant westerner I am biased and have to say “The West Is The Best.”

Yes, some valid points… which many Southern conservatives would deny to the end of time.

That said, I disagree with his assessment that Northern cities need to become more like Southern cities. The South in general has a lot of problems (which I go into great detail about in my North/South Divide post linked above). No city should emulate the South. Yes, desegregation has had value in the South, but the Northern states also don’t have segregated schools and such. The social situation of Northern cities is different, faced as they are with other issues.

As for the West, I don’t know that it’s the best. The West, especially the Northwest, is no doubt more predominately white and lacks the deeply embedded racial history found in the East. Anyway, it’s inaccurate to say that the division is East vs West. The East and West coasts have much more history of racial and cultural diversity since, in the past, immigrants typically entered by way of the coasts. The Midwest, on the other hand, only experienced the arrival of larger minority populations when industrialization began.

Bsmooth: “Wow people in this country are stupid. For those of you trying to make the incorrect point that they are all East Coast or a majority from the East, only 4 of the 10 or 40% are from the East Coast or East.

The Midwestern United States (in the U.S. generally referred to as the Midwest) is one of the four geographic regions within the United States of America that are officially recognized by the United States Census Bureau.

The region consists of twelve states in the central and inland northeaste­rn US: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.­[1] A 2006 Census Bureau estimate put the population at 66,217,736­. Both the geographic center of the contiguous U.S. and the population center of the U.S. are in the Midwest. The United States Census Bureau divides this region into the East North Central States (essential­ly the Great Lakes States) and the West North Central States.

Chicago is the largest city in the region, followed by Detroit and Indianapol­is. Chicago has the largest metropolit­an statistica­l area, followed by Detroit, and Minneapoli­s – Saint Paul. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is the oldest city in the region, having been founded by French missionari­es and explorers in 1668.”

– – –

There are a few factors and details that get lost in the analysis of this study. It would appear that either the researchers have some unconscious biases in how they chose their methodology or they were intentionally massaging the data by seeking out a methodology that would give them the results they wanted. Or I suppose they could just be so narrowly focused on a piece of the puzzle that they merely failed to grasp the larger picture. The latter is probably the most likely explanation. I don’t have any reason to doubt that they thought they were making a useful clarification in focusing on what they considered relevant comparisons.

First, the choice of terms is a bit misleading. The study is measuring ‘segregation’ in ‘metropolises’, but the terms are being defined in a specific way. So, what is being measured isn’t necessarily what most people would think is being measured. ‘Segregation’ is a term that has a historical context of laws requiring races to have separate neighborhoods, schools, restaurants, bathrooms, drinking fountains, swimming pools, etc. But the researchers are using ‘segregation’ in an apparently idiosyncratic sense by defining it both more generically and more narrowly. ‘Metropolises’ is a more general term in common language, but is being used in a technical sense here and so is being defined more specifically and more narrowly. This study isn’t comparing all cities, only ‘metropolises’. If I’m understanding correctly their use of this term, these large ‘metropolises’ by definition are going to be mostly found in the old industrial cities of the North. It would be more interesting and probably more insightful to see a comparison of racial diversity and racial violence between all urban, suburban, and rural areas, between all states, and between all regions; or, if racial segregation was to be used, to have all other factors controlled for (e.g., socioeconomic segregation).

LogicalMathMan: “Some reasons for dubious criteria used in this study: 1) the study measures the level of integratio­n in a metropolis­, 2) the definition of a metropolis is not specified, 3) the measure of integratio­n based on transient population is ignored, e.g. If NY shows an increase in ‘integrati­on’ compared to a smaller ‘metropoli­s’ in the deep south, it merely suggests that there was more of a transient population that was integrated into the most cosmopolit­an city in the world, 4) no reasons are given for why cities in rural Mississipp­i, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana should be excluded but for the erroneous reason that they do not qualify as ‘metropoli­ses’ under the authors’ criteria, 5) If metropolit­an areas that were designated as cities based on the authors’ criteria for the start of the duration under study ceased to be considered as cities at the end of the duration due to the criteria being set, then an in-transie­nt population with declining minorities would not be considered­.

Overall, IMO, this study is seriously flawed.”

Artos: “Yeah isn’t it. Not nearly as interestin­g as all those tiny little Southern Burgs where segregatio­n is commonplac­e. Course only the big ones got noticed.”

Erik Larsen: “I’m really not clear on the term “segregate­d” vs “racially or culturally self-selec­ted non-divers­e neighbourh­oods”. For example, does a Chinatown or Little Italy mean “segregati­on”? Would it surprise people that immigrants from Somalia would tend to congregate in a certain area of town?

Segregatio­n is a loaded term with a lot of sinister historical baggage. Hmmmm.”

dannarasm: “Identifing segregatio­n by race was important during the civil rights movement because it showed that segregatio­n did, infact, impact an individual­’s ability to obtain an general education, which in turn effects an individual­’s ability to obtain acceptance to higher education. Because of this, government­al social programs were enacted to “balance” the disparity in soci-econo­mic divisions between “races”.

Today, the importance is because the government­al social programs rely upon this data for government­al funding and continued support for the national laws that prohibit “segregati­on” by race. Most important is how schools are funded. Schools are funded in part by property taxes. Those who live in wealthy areas are benefited by schools who have far more money for the schools and education, than those in less affluent areas. De-segrega­tion was a means of removing social-eco­nomic segregatio­n in education where children in poor areas were able to receive a better education by attending schools in more wealthy areas which normally they couldn’t because of socio-econ­omic segregatio­n.

However, one can take the term intergrati­on and apply it to segregatio­n to find out that yes, individual­s prefer to live, work with those of similar race and religious beliefs regardless of laws against segregatio­n. Individual­s segregate themselves and prefer to not intergrate themselves with others who are not in the same socio-econ­omic/relig­ious groups. Thus the form of “classes” in which an individual­, simply by being born in a certain socio-econ­omic area, remains in that socio-econ­omic area.”

Second, the study is only measuring the ‘integration’ of neighborhoods, measuring how the rates of diversity in a given neighborhood match the rates of diversity in the entire ‘metropolis’ which the neighborhood is a part of. So, even during slavery times, the South probably would have measured low on ‘segregation’ as it’s being measured in this study. Slaves lived on the plantation with the slave owner. They weren’t ‘segregated’ in the sense that they were all living in the same neighborhood.

Azuki: “If I’m understand­ing correctly, the compares the overall city demographi­c to local neighborho­od demographi­c. The higher the concentrat­ion of a certain group in a certain location, the higher the segregatio­n score. This study does seem to show people gravitate toward living with other people of the same race. It also shows certain races tend to live in more impoverish­ed neighborho­ods. It does not, however, show segregatio­n is the cause of the impoverish­ment. I would argue the impoverish­ment came first. Reporting the study as some sort revelation on race relations in this country is irresponsi­ble. The race issue does exist, but it’s much higher up on the chain. Therefore, I’m not sure how this helps anyone solve the actual problem. Again, all we’re doing is focusing on consequenc­es and being reactive rather than proactive.”

kbrown2225: “Actually the South has always been more integrated even in the time of Jim Crow. The south relied heavily on the legal system of segregatio­n (i.e. whites only accomodati­ons rather than wholesale segregatio­n of the community.­) With a legal system keeping the races seperate in accomodati­ons whites did not feel as great of a need to segregate in terms of location (although segregated areas certainly existed). The North on the other hand never had a legal system of segregatio­n but rather relied on a segregatio­n of residence (i.e. whites only neighborho­ods etc.) much of which still remains. By the way I was raised outside of Birmingham­, Alabama.”

Third, the study was primarily measuring ‘integration’ of blacks and whites while largely ignoring the bigger picture of diversity and integration. So, ‘metropolises’ that are ‘integrated’ between blacks and whites may or may not be ‘integrated’ in context of Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Middle Easterners, etc. Actual percentages and rates of diversity weren’t being measured. Many of the ‘metropolises’ measured as more ‘segregated’ might also measure as more racially and ethnically diverse. And many of the ‘metropolises’ measured as being less ‘segregated’ might also measure as less racially and ethnically diverse.

valkrye131: “Philadelph­ia is more than 40% black. While segregatio­n remains prevalent in some neighborho­ods, and schools, in real life interactio­n it’s almost non-existe­nt. Anyone who actually lives and works in the city must count a fair number of persons of other races/ethn­icities among their friends, co-workers­, and acquaintan­ces unless they are deliberate­ly segregatin­g themselves­.”

Hmuir: “I was born and raised in Suffolk county New York, To some extent the neighborho­ods are segregated BUT it is the school that makes the difference­. Nearby towns were absolutely segregated because the population of the school were mostly if not all white. I went to a school that was diverse even though that part is never mentioned, we may live in seperate neighborho­ods but we all came together monday through friday, we all got along most of the time. I had more friends that did not live in my neighborho­od than those that did! I am grateful that my schools were diverse because I learned a lot more than others that grew up in a truly homogeneou­s town!”

Myshkin57: “To all the people who think there’s really something here indicative of the racial attitudes of big cities, blue states, or the north, please read up on the criterion used: http://en.­wikipedia.­org/wiki/I­ndex_of_di­ssimilarit­y

The index is figured by comparing the racial make-up of a neighborho­od within a city to the racial make-up of the entire city. So, the easiest way to be “unsegrega­ted” is to not have much racial diversity in your city. An all-white city will be completely unsegregat­ed by these metrics.”

Fourth, the study was only measuring the ‘integration’ of blacks and whites within individual neighborhoods of ‘metropolises’. So, this study seems to falsely assume that having ethnic neighborhoods is the same as being ‘segregated’. A ‘metropolis’ can appear to be not ‘segregated’, according to this study, for the simple reason that there are few minorities and little diversity. Of course, a ‘metropolis’ with large concentrated minority populations will tend to have more clumping of those populations. If there are very fewer minorities in a ‘metropolis’, it might be more difficult and less likely for them to clump together in separate neighborhoods. Also, this study completely ignores how much a ‘metropolis’ embraces multiculturalism and how welcomed people feel no matter their race or ethnicity.

Doktor Avalanche: “”Desegrega­tion” does not equal “integrati­on.””

CabCurious: “The reports of segregatio­n across NYC are misleading­. It’s time we stop thinking of integratio­n in terms of making milky soup and start thinking in terms of mosaics. Outside of central Manhattan, NYC is a model for a mosaic of humanity living together without creating a milky soup devoid of culture and community.

Obviously most of Manhattan is off-balanc­ed compared to the rest of the city. But the census reporting doesn’t respect that the city is grown out of a MOSAIC of different communitie­s deeply interconne­cted in ways that this kind of report doesn’t get at.

Queens and Brooklyn are the most diverse places on earth.

To call the segregated because there are traditiona­l ethnic communitie­s is a disservice to the dialog about ethnicity and culture in america.”

CabCurious:Let’s stop thinking of integratio­n in terms of whiteness and superficia­lity. Let’s start thinking about equal opportunit­y and how to value diversity.”

Fifth, the study only compares ‘metropolises’ to other ‘metropolises’ (and even that comparison is narrowly focused because the definition is narrow). So, this says nothing about how these cities compare to rural areas or how these cities compare to states (or how rural areas compare to rural areas, or how states compare to states). In the South, ‘segregation’ probably happens more between wealthier cities and poorer rural areas, with poor whites being ‘segregated’ in the rural areas outside of the ‘metropolises’. In the North, I would suspect there is less difference between cities and rural areas, the difference instead being between urban and suburban areas (both of which are included in the same ‘metropolis’), with poor blacks being ‘segregated’ in the urban areas at the center of ‘metropolises’. The North has less economic disparity which is a significant factor. Race, in America, correlates to socioeconomic class. Going by the same method as this study, if states were being compared (throwing together urban, suburban, and rural areas), then Southern states might show more ‘segregation’. This, however, is speculation as the data being provided is so narrow in focus.

Yeuk Moy: “I would be curious to know if the dissimilar­ity index would significan­tly change if income was factored out.”

deanleto: “well, if they did it on disparity of income, then racial disparity would seem like a love fest”

andwhatarmy: “This is so bogus. If they had assessed relative incomes, then they’d have a handle on why the dissimilar­ities exist. Then they could begin to do something about income disparity.­..but probably not until the likes of Donald T-Rump stop building incredibly costly high-rises only the top 2 percent can afford, or until the Bouvier-ty­pes and movie-star types decide they really don’t like the privacy of the dunes in the Hamptons. I can’t speak to the situation in the other locales, as I have only lived in those two–Nassa­u-Suffolk and NYC. But I can assure you, if the finances in either place permitted integratio­n, it would be more likely to happen there than a lot of the other places mentioned.

And if, for instance, little Southern towns have less dissimilar­ity, it is because both African-Am­ericans and low-income rednecks are equally poor and downtrodde­n, kept in place by one or two oligarchs only, thus they share the cruddy side of town. I lived in a few of those places, too (Athens, GA and Bristol, TN), and saw it as I said it.”

salesdude: “All the cities listed had a large mfg based economy that drew southern blacks during the wars, and when the factories and jobs left, the people were virtually marooned in their neighborho­ods with no means of upward mobility. As the cities lost tax revenue and the white citizens left for the suburbs, the city centers declined, which even further isolated the black community. Drugs took over bringing violent crime and city services declined even further to the point that almost all these cities now have generation­s of families who live hand to mouth. Worse yet, the public school systems are substandar­d which further dooms the residents because without an education you are stuck there. For many inner city kids the only escape is to join the military.”

jeanrenoir: “I’m a white living in Baltimore, the epicenter with Detroit of the tragedy of urban black paralysis and dysfunctio­n. I live in the middle of the city, in the only genuinely integrated neighborho­od in town; most of Baltimore is overwhelmi­ngly white or black. Who can blame either whites or blacks for fleeing from the crime, chaos, blight, dirt, and drugs of urban black America? And the urban black poor can’t afford to leave. So it’s going to be a LONG time, if ever, before “segregati­on” is “overcome” in America. Meanwhile, the black middle class keeps growing, prospering­, and leaving the dysfunctio­nal urban blacks behind, just as the formerly urban whites have. Black America experience­s great progress for the educated middle class, and unchanged paralysis for the hapless, uneducated poor. And blacks and whites who can get as far away from the latter as possible. What a shock.”

eugeneregard: “It has more to do with job loss than anything else. Union manufactur­ing jobs moved to right to work for less southern cities leaving their money base ruptured. As the right to work states lose their jobs to China it will happen there too. The ability to make money makes more choices for more people. Our “free trade” policies have committed economic treason against this country.”

LogicCircuit: “I’d say in big cities the dividing factor is money. Segregatio­n made African Americans poor decades ago and the raw capitalism ruling this country today is making sure they stay poor.

I suppose at least in today’s modern society the forces of a capitalist­ic market don’t discrimina­te. As a general rule, all poor will remain poorer and the rich will get richer.”

Sixth, Northern cities are also older cities and have been the entry point into America for many immigrants, especially for earlier immigrants. So, Northern cities have a long history of racial and ethnic diversity. The ethnic neighborhoods in Northern cities have been there for a very long time. In earlier periods of history, immigrants were more isolated by culture and language. They often chose to live close together for a sense of familiarity and safety. And new immigrants today still are attracted to their respective ethnic neighborhoods. Why shouldn’t they? Ethnic neighborhoods aren’t inherently bad, despite the fact that they measure as being ‘segregated’. Without ethnic neighborhoods, much of America’s ethnic diversity would have disappeared long ago. Ethnic diversity can be a good thing. And the melting pot ideal isn’t always a good thing. In the South, there is less ethnic diversity between blacks and whites because whites in previous times intentionally destroyed the slave’s African culture and forced slaves to conform to white culture. It was when freed black slaves moved to the industrial North (e.g., Harlem) looking for jobs that they began to develop their own independent and distinct culture (e.g., Harlem Renaissance).

rigormrtis: “Most of the cities listed are much older. The southern mega-citie­s have experience­d their growth more recently and pulled people in from all over. They are more cosmopolit­an as a result.”

mpls mas machos: “This is banal, but the reason there aren’t more southern cities on this list is simply because the south urbanized later than every part of the country. For example, Metropolit­an Atlanta, historical­ly the largest and most urban city in the south, had a population in 1960 of @ 1.5 million (city and suburbs), and has now nearly quadrupled in size. Big Eastern cities are old, ancient relative to most others, and have long histories, with entrenched neighborho­ods. If anyone has bragging rights, it’s not North or South, but the West that does.”

greenygenie: “I live and work in an, albeit, suburban area of Palm Beach County, and the races in my area are very well evenly distribute­d.
(See for yourself: http://pro­jects.nyti­­nsus/2010/­explorer?r­ef=us
Put in 33462)

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that these “neighborh­oods” lack history, and are new on the order of 15 years old. If people should choose to live here, it has nothing to do with neighborho­od identifica­tion, but proximity to work, schools, and affordabil­ity.”

Eyal Neval: “This survey is mind blowingly flawed. The most diverse city, NYC, gets the lowest score. Why? Because the survey states that neighborho­ods were examined to see how many people need to move for that neighborho­od to become as diverse as the city as a whole. So if the city is really homogenous­, very few people will have to move in a certain neighborho­od to match that city diversenes­s, but if the city is as diverse as NY, some neighborho­ods are white, some are black, some hispanic, some mix- that’s not segregatio­n, that’s cultural diversity and it means a lot will have to move to match the city wide stats, but that’s pointless, there is no goal of having a solid gray mush all over the city, it’s good that some neighborho­ods have greek character, some Dominican, and some African American. People can choose which character fits them best and find new friends. There is no segregatio­n in NYC, the opposite is true; due to economic reasons there is a strong gentrifica­tion.”

merger: “One of things I have noticed in my frequent visits to NYC, is that immigrants tend to move into neighborho­ods where there are more people of their nationailt­y. I am sure they feel safer, and it is an easier transition if you are unfamiliar with the language and the culture of a new country. Americans that move to foriegn lands to live, work, and retire tend to live in “American” communitie­s. It makes one feel more comfortabl­e in a foriegn land.”

ZombyWoof: “There are all sorts of political and economic forces at play but one cannot minimize the fact that most of these cities are very culturally diverse, and ethnic enclaves are naturally going to be a consequenc­e of this fact. This in turn encourages entreprene­urship catering to that fact which itself further enhances the “flavor” of those neighborho­od serving as a magnet.”

Seventh, as I pointed out, the researchers weren’t measuring wealth disparity nor were they measuring poverty nor many other factors: races besides blacks and whites, mixed race people and mixed race marriages, how ethnicity correlates to racial identities, percentage of racial diversity rather than just rate comparisons, racial conflict and violence vs tolerance, multiculturalism, etc. So, we can’t use this data to easily ascertain patterns, correlations, and causal links. For example, in the South, there is a lot more poverty and greater wealth disparity. History has forced Southern blacks and whites to live closer together, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rich white kids are sent to private schools and that doesn’t change the fact that the churches tend to remain segregated. Stating Southern ‘metropolises’ are less ‘segregated’ according to this methodology doesn’t in itself tell us much at all. Without looking at the larger context and the minute details of all the relevant factors, we miss out on finding anything meaningful.

littlebrowngirl: “What the study should say is that there are very few diverse areas in the country.”

ZombyWoof: “By harkening back to fair housing laws passed 40 years ago this article seems to suggests that there’s been little progress and that’s just absurd; I’ve been around long enough to see the change from decade to decade.

I’m a Latino who grew up in the projects in the Bronx when it could be said there was real segregatio­n. I currently live in Washington Heights which is predominan­tly Hispanic, (although my section is less so), but prior to that (except for some years in San Francisco and Bloomingto­n MN) I have lived in Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Park Slope. All these neighborho­ods are predominat­ely one ethnicity or other but I would never consider them segregated as I have always had neighbors from many cultures.

There is still some discrimina­tion and other factors, particular­ly economic (including education funding), have to be considered­, but we have to come to grips with the fact that many people of similar background­s like to congregate in the same areas and there is nothing wrong with that so long as there are no efforts to keep out those “others” whomever they may be.

Also there are other considerat­ions, sometimes you want the convenienc­e of having shops that sell products that cater to your culture and grew up accustomed to being able to obtain without a hassle. In my case I can finally sink my teeth into a nice pernil whenever I want that wasn’t made by my mother and only on special occasions.”

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This is an example of an article about a study where many of the commenters offer more insight and understanding than the article and maybe even more than the study. However, I haven’t looked at the study in enough detail and so I don’t want to necessarily or entirely blame the researchers. It seems the terminological definitions made it easy to misinterpret the complex set of data, but the author of the article should have understood that and helped clarify the issues in order to not encourage problematic and confused interpretations.

lensman3: “This article has been spun in a *VERY* misleading manner. Completely misleading if you look at the last table of the report.

Shame, shame on you Mr Bradford. Your a racist….

Shame, shame on Huffington­post for even posting the article.”

bepa: “Yes the table shows that people nationally have declining black/whit­e segregatio­n


Another problem with the report…a­nyone who says they are of mixed race is classified as black

In the 200 and 2010 census there were people who classified themselves as mixed race..part­icularly the young… Mixed marriages are very common today…an­d the children are fine …that would not be reflected in this report”

I don’t think the author of the article was intentionally trying to mislead nor that he is a racist. But the author could have provided more detailed data and careful analysis. And I’m sure the researchers weren’t intending a racist interpretation by classifying anyone as black who is even just partly black. But that does play into the history of racism where anyone who had any non-white genetics was considered non-white as if ‘white’ represents some pure category. From the report:

Our approach for handling multiple race responses in 2000 and 2010 is to treat a person as black if they described themselves as black plus any other race; as Asian if they listed Asian plus any other race except black; and as Native American/other race for any other combination.

This brings into question the results of this study. If white people who acknowledge they have some black genetics (maybe from a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent) are categorized as black, then neighborhoods with a lot of mixed race people will be measured as being segregated according to these definitions.

Although the study is largely focused on blacks and whites, it also looks at data of Hispanics and Asians (although with the same issue with categorizing mixed race people). One problem is that, in looking at regions, the researchers used whites as the standard for comparison. So, they did comparisons of Black-White segregation along with comparisons of Hispanic-White segregation and of Asian-White comparisons. But they didn’t do segregation comparisons for regions between Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. And they didn’t include all races together in looking at overall diversity in relation to segregation. As such, the researchers still fell short in creating a truly helpful analysis of segregation in America.

There were also many commenters who were apparently confused about the data because of the way the study was designed along with how it was explained in the article. But some of this was just the normal ideological preconceptions that are always found in comment sections. Some conservatives, of course, wanted to simplify it into Democratic cities bad, Republican cities good. And some conservatives wanted to conflate this idiosyncratic, narrow definition of ‘segregation’ with the broader cultural issue of racism, implying that liberals are the real racists. Other commenters had their eyes open for such ideological biases and misinterpretations.

dentuso: “What most will not recognize is the fact that this study takes into acct the volume of minorities per city. Simply; if a city is 50% AA who live predominan­tly in the south, it will show that a massive racial shift would have to occur.

Transverse­ly, if a city is only 5% AA, the study as conducted would show that no major shift need take place.

You can guarantee that those in the south won’t understand how this study is done, and spout that northerly cities are racist. Guaranteed­.”

Cilantro: “This has little to do with being a so-called “progressi­ve” city (code: Democrat party leaders) and more with the history of these former industrial cities which are very old compared to the Southwest, South east and West Coast of USA and their respective histories dating back to over 100 years ago. Many of these cities have experience­d major “white flight” to the suburbs in the 50s, 60s & 70s. Are you suggesting if pro-billio­naire, racist leaning republican­s (ie. “unprogres­sive” ) were in charge these places would be an equalized salad bowl mix of multi-race­s? Give me a break!”

josh2082: “Loving all the comments that go something like: “Aren’t those all blue/Liber­al cities?”

Yes they are. Let’s think about WHY…

1) Metropolit­an areas skew more Democratic
2) Metropolit­an areas also tend to be more racially diverse, and cities with large African-Am­erican population­s also tend to be more Democratic or left-leani­ng.
3) Look at a list of extremely Republican leaning cities- with some exceptions you will probably see a very homogeneou­s population of mainly white people.
Perhaps in the Southwest larger portions of Hispanics will be found, but that’s not the focus of this study. Being white doesn’t make you Republican­, but the numbers don’t lie. Most registered Republican­s are white.

So to me it is no surprise at all most of the cities listed here lean left. After all, you have to have significan­t population­s of diverse racial groups to even have to address segregatio­n.”

The last comment is partly correct, but missing a couple of factors.

Some Southern cities aren’t ‘segregate­d’ in the sense that the population is more mixed together which is simply a result of history. According to segregatio­n being measured in this study, neighborho­ods with plantation­s during slavery wouldn’t be considered segregated because the black slaves lived in the same neighborho­od with the white slaveowner­s. Much of the segregatio­n in the South isn’t based on locate but is instead based on class, culture, prejudice, and also previously based on laws.

Furthermore, the South actually isn’t as solidly Republican as it seems during elections. Minorities tend to vote Democratic when they vote, but minorities­s don’t vote as much as do whites. If all minorities voted as much as whites, the South would probably be a mix of Democratic and swing states. The reason minorities don’t vote is because of a history of disenfranc­hisement. We saw this even in recent years with the Florida fiasco where black-soun­ding names had been removed from the voting registry.

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Anyway, I don’t mean to say that this study was worthless. It presents data that should be considered, but one should consider it in the context of the data being extremely limited and easily misunderstood. It’s the problem of a lot of research. I’m a fan of science. I can’t stand anti-intellectuals who dismiss science. On the other hand, scientific studies are only helpful and interesting to the degree one has the intelligence, insight, and education to understand. But we all exist in varying degrees of ignorance and confusion.

I spent all this time analyzing this study and I can’t be sure that I’m not misunderstanding some important aspect of it. Like the author of the article, I’m in the position of either explaining the study well or not. Hopefully, I at least made clear the complexity of the issues involved.

– – –

In case anyone is interested, here is an interactive US map of racial/ethnic distribution:

Mapping America: Every City, Every Block

Segregation in 2010!

This is the type of issue that libertarians have no practical answer for. If government was smaller with less tax funding and with less power, incidents like this would happen all of the time and there wouldn’t be anything that could be done about it. If our country had been libertarian from the beginning, it’s possible (highly probable even) that slavery could still exist as it still does exist in some parts of the world.

This incident proves beyond a doubt how easy it is for institutionalized racism to exist even now. Conservatives like to pretend racism limited to the past and so we should act as if it doesn’t exist. Of course, anyone who has looked at the actual data wouldn’t be surprised by this report about segregation. The laws on sentencing drug crimes are notoriously racist in that drugs that are popular among whites get lower sentences. Also, racism is institutionalized in our culture itself. Research shows that juries and judges are strongly influenced by racism (whether conscious or unconscious).

US: Politics, Religion & Civil Rights

U.S. prison population headed for first decline in decades

The United States soon may see its prison population drop for the first time in almost four decades, a milestone in a nation that locks up more people than any other.

The inmate population has risen steadily since the early 1970s as states adopted get-tough policies that sent more people to prison and kept them there longer. But tight budgets now have states rethinking these policies and the costs that come with them.

That is truly good news.  We imprison more of our population than any country in the world at high costs and we spend more money on the military than the rest of the world combined.  During these decades of wasteful federal spending supported by conservatives, healthcare reform has been floundering during this same period of time.  Helping people is socialism, but killing and imprisoning people is good traditional American values.

Gun Owners, Unfiltered

The National Rifle Association has long fulminated in the gun control debate in Washington like the Great Oz in the Emerald City. Now along comes Frank Luntz, a conservative Republican pollster who, Toto-like, has snatched back Oz’s curtain to reveal that gun owners favor much more reasonable gun controls than the gun lobby would ever allow the public to imagine.

I’m not a gun owner, but I am a supporter of the right to own a gun.  I guess I’m a moderate as described in this article, but what is interesting is that most gun owners are moderate about gun controls.  I suspect this would prove true in other areas as well.  For exaple, like many people, I’m moderate about the issue of abortion, but the moderate voices never get heard.  Instead, issues like this get portrayed in black and white terms.  But gun controls and abortion are complex issues with many factors.

Most Americans aren’t for absolute control or absolute lack of gun control.  Most Americans aren’t for absolute freedom of abortion or absolute denial of abortion.  When Glenn Beck’s can portray his extremist views as populist by saying “we surround them”, then you know the media has failed.  People have come to think of the extremes as the norm, and moderates are either ignored (as the NRA apparently has with its own members) or portrayed as liberals (pronunced “libruls”), socialists, or some other ugly word.

Let me try to explain how extremism had come to hold such power over the American psyche.

Some consider the NRA to be the most powerful special interest group in the US.  For various reasons, the NRA has become associated with the far religious right.  Earlier in last century, the GOP was the party of civil rights and it’s true that gun ownership is a civil rights issue, but the civil rights I’m talking about is that of the civil rights movement.  I’ve heard that Martin Luthr King jr was a Republican and African-Americans in the past seem to have had been strong supporters of the GOP, but this changed in the middle of last century when desegregation became a major issue.  Southerners began worrying about their way of life and around this constellated several issues.  There was the increasing popularity of the NRA and at the same time the KKK was losing power, but the far religious right in general was opposed to desegregation.  Evangelicals, before this time, were intentionally non-political.  However, many white Southerners had formed private schools to escape the desegregated public schools and in response the federal government had taken away the tax exemption for private schools that continued to be racially segregated.

This far right movement led to several results.  The evangelical conservatives have had disproportionate influence on Washington politics with presidential candidates courting them and a number of presidents with openly avowed allegiance to the religious right.  Nixon had associations with evangelical leaders, Reagan used evangelism and race issues to win the presidency, and of course Bush jr was a born again.  It was through the religious right that the GOP has dominated Washington for so many decades.  And, in that time, what policies were instated?  What were the results?

American politicians have supported Israel because according to evangelical theology the Jews have to rebuild the temple before Jesus can return.  The culture wars, based on issues of race and poverty, has become a wedge issue and a major campaigning strategy.  Politicians were forced to accept to support ‘tough on crime’ policies which led to the ever-increasing prison population.  The War on Drugs was started with an emphasis on drugs used by poor minorities.  Communism became identified with Godlessness and so the religious right became identified with the ‘American way’.  The religious fueled Cold War led to more wars started than during any other time in US history.  The US became a highly militarized society and began it’s mission of spreading democracy (i.e., nation-building).  And all of this led to Republican administrations having budget deficits.

The NRA, by itself, seems like a harmless organization.  But the problem is that it’s a special interest group that is part of a larger movement that has succeeded in manipulating public policies.  And as the polls show this special interest group doesn’t even accurately represent its own members.

Heaven and Nature

On a slightly different but related note, this article is about the popularity of pantheism in American culture.  The author doesn’t mention it, but imagine this has its roots in the Founding Fathers preference of deism over theism (which relates to the Enlightenment ideals of democracy).

As usual, Alexis de Tocqueville saw it coming. The American belief in the essential unity of all mankind, Tocqueville wrote in the 1830s, leads us to collapse distinctions at every level of creation. “Not content with the discovery that there is nothing in the world but a creation and a Creator,” he suggested, democratic man “seeks to expand and simplify his conception by including God and the universe in one great whole.”

I think this also relates to the issue of evangelism.  Many people don’t realize that a large percentage of evangelicals are liberals and evangelism was part of a great mix of religious fervor in the 1800s (having it’s roots in the Protestant Reformation and the Anabaptist movement).  Everything from Mormonism to New Thought Christianity came out of this period, and religious communes such as the Shakers became popular in the era of Civil War unease.  People, both liberal and conservative, were looking for a truly American sense of religion… and the Europeans too were having their own version of collective soul-searching (because the Industrial Age in general was disruptive of traditional ways of life).

I suspect that pantheism has a direct link to the evangelical faith in a God who is very close to humanity and also the idea of being filled by the Holy Spirit.  Evangelism and New Age spirituality are twin siblings.  However, the religious right had seemed to have one the battle in this sibling rivalry for liberal religiosity had seemed to have been purged from the Democratic party in response to the extreme religiosity of the GOP.  Ever since, the religious right has defined the terms for all religious and moral debate which has allowed them to set the terms for most of the political debate as well.

However, certain things shifted the balance.  Joseph Campbell and George Lucas helped to popularize liberal and secular sense of the spiritual (pantheism), but it also invited liberals to be more openly spiritual and even religious (eventually leading to the likes of Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle).  But this had started back in the 1800s with the newly translated ancient texts.  And this was kicked into high gear with the discovery and popularization of the Gnostic texts which really hit the mainstream around the time of Campbell’s popularity.  These Gnostic texts led to a revival of liberals reclaiming Christianity which has been slow but steady, and which prepared the way for someone like Obama to use religious language to win the presidency (something only Republicans were able to do).

One interesting thing about liberal religion/spirituality is the emphasis on pacifism.  That also goes back to the 1800s.  It was the time of the Civil War and the assassination of Lincoln (by a racist white Southerner).  It was the beginning of the racial issues and culture wars that have bred so much violence.  Many people were tired of all of the violence in the late 1800s and so joined pacifist communes such as the Shakers, pacifist communities such as the Amish, and pacifist groups such as the Quakers.  The list of pacifist Christian groups in America is very long which is odd when you consider how Christian messages of violence too often dominate our media.

This pacifist tradition has always been strong.  America didn’t start off as a militarized society.  The Founding Fathers formed America in order to defend themselves against oppressive violence.  When they had established the government, they were specifically clear about not wanting a standing army.

So, America has seen some massive shifts in its public policies and in its public opinions.  The dominance of the GOP began in reaction to the civil rights movement in the 1950s.  The civil rights movement began with the anti-slavery movement of the 1800s.  The anti-slavery movement began because none of the Founding Fathers were able or willing to make slavery illegal at the inception of our country.  A slow shift that has finally resulted in a black president.  Still, racial conflict and the culture wars are just as strong, just as divisive.  Mexicans (known by the codeword ‘illegal aliens’) are the new hated minority, but at the same time both blacks and hispanics will outnumber the whites in the near future.  Also, as the prison population decreases, this will mean more minorities out in the general public and more minorities with power to influence politics.

It makes me wonder where it’s all leading.