Reviews | Integration against white intransigence


I asked Douglas Massey, a sociology professor and public policy in Princeton, on the challenges faced by advocates of greater integration.

Massey, who wrote that “residential segregation is the “structural backbone” of racial stratification in the United States, described to me in an email how his research suggests that segregation may strengthen:

Research shows that whites dramatically overestimate crime rates in communities that contain blacks, and that even taking into account crime rates, quality of school, and home values, whites are under and less likely to buy a home in a neighborhood as the percentage of Blacks increases. These feelings cause and are caused by segregation, because conscious and unconscious racism structures Americans’ social cognition and because basic institutions such as criminal justice, real estate, land use regulation, banking , insurance and labor markets are highly racialized. .

Once a large black population is strongly segregated in urban areas, Massey continued, “it becomes very difficult to move towards integration because segregation perpetuates neighborhood conditions which maintain negative stereotypes.”

Housing segregation, according to Massey’s analysis,

Ultimately stems from the persistence of anti-black racism and the more recent rise of anti-Hispanic prejudice. These feelings are linked to persistent negative stereotypes about crime, sexuality, and intelligence.

Most whites, Massey wrote,

no longer support segregation in principle, but they are still hampered by the presence of large numbers of blacks (and to a lesser extent Hispanics) in practice, especially in intimate settings such as neighborhoods, schools and families.

There are examples of successfully integrated communities, but they are the exception rather than the rule, Massey said:

Places with small affluent black populations have been able to integrate, but the country’s largest urban black communities remain stubbornly stranded at high levels of segregation, and about a third of all urban blacks live in hyper- segregation.

Researchers continue to strive to understand the motivations of white Americans.

Ann owens, a sociologist at the University of Southern California who abundantly written on the themes of race, income and neighborhoods, answered my request:

I think it’s hard to separate racism from the fear of losing benefits. Many parents support integration in the abstract, but of course we see protests and pushbacks when their own child or other issues, like property value, might be affected. Few parents explain that the racial makeup of school is what they make their school decisions about, but studies show that once you control all the other things parents might say race is an indicator for – class, test scores, resources, etc. – white parents still prefer schools with fewer black or Hispanic children.

In a 2013 article, “Race and neighborhoods in the 21st century: what does segregation mean today?Jorge de la Roca, University of Southern California, Ingrid Gould Ellen and Katherine M. O’Regan, both at NYU, determined that

minority neighborhood environments continue to be very uneven with those enjoyed by whites. Blacks and Hispanics continue to live among poorer neighbors, have access to poorer schools, and be exposed to more violent crime.

These differences, in turn, reinforce both the racial prejudices and stereotypes that lead many whites to oppose government action to achieve integration.

Take the proficiency ratings of neighborhood schools. De la Roca, Ellen, and O’Regan found that the average white person lives in a census tract where the closest elementary school ranks at the 58th percentile in terms of proficiency while the school closest to the person Black average ranks in the 37th percentile, “resulting in a racial gap of 21 percentage points in the skills rankings.”

Or take the crime. De la Roca, Ellen and O’Regan write that the average white person lives in a census tract “with a 37th percentile violent crime rate in their city,” while the average black person lives in a 66th percentile area. For poor whites, the nearest elementary school has a proficiency rate of 50% compared to 30.1% for poor blacks. The level of violent crime in poor white enumeration areas is in the 55.5th percentile compared to the 74.5th percentile in poor black areas.

Sean F. Reardon and Joseph Townsend, both from Stanford, and Lindsay Renard, a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, came to similar conclusions in his 2017 article, “Continuous measurement of the joint distribution of race and income between neighborhoods. “

About Michael G. Walter

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