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African Americans Remain Few in the Northern Suburbs

While the northern suburbs are increasingly diverse (up from 10% persons of color in 1980 to over 26% in 2010), the Black population in most suburbs is under 1%. Segregation is alive and well.

Can we truly pronounce housing segregation against African Americans dead? 

Yes, claims the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in a much-publicized study released February 6, 2012. Analyzing 2010 Census data, the authors conclude that “all-white neighborhoods are effectively extinct” with “African-American residents in 199 out of every 200 neighborhoods nationwide,” compared 160 out of 200 fifty years ago.

On the North Shore? No. 

The Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs analyzed Census data of Chicago’s 16 northern suburbs and found that African Americans comprise only 2 percent of the population outside Evanston (4.7 percent overall), hardly evidence of an open housing market.

Denunciation of this new study, authored by a conservative New York-based think tank, has been swift and vociferous. 

Fair housing groups including the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance point out that the Manhattan Institute failed to consider the economic health of neighborhoods in which African Americans are living. 

Fifteen years of predatory lending practices targeting African Americans and Latinos and the subsequent mortgage meltdown and unemployment crises have erased the homeownership gains of these groups. 

The National Fair Housing Alliance reports that “African Americans and Latinos are 75 percent more likely to experience foreclosure.” There is a correlation between the price of housing in a community and its level of racial diversity, as Interfaith’s data show.

Remapping Debate, sponsored by the non-profit Anti-Discrimination Center in New York, has published an extensive series of on-line maps demonstrating that segregation is “alive and well” in the U.S. Using a “dissimilarity index,” which measures the percentage of a particular racial group that would have to move to a different neighborhood to ensure an even racial distribution throughout the area, 65 percent of African Americans would have to move according to 2010 data, not much of a change from 69 percent in 2000.

African Americans also continue to face discrimination in the housing market. Following an extensive audit of the housing market in Chicago’s northern suburbs, my organization, the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, found that African Americans are more than 50 percent likely to be treated worse than whites with the same qualifications and familial backgrounds in trying to rent or buy in the area.

While it is true that “all-white neighborhoods have largely disappeared, this is more due to the entry of Latinos and Asians into formerly all-white neighborhoods,” as Princeton professor Douglas Massey, author of a history of housing segregation in the United States, is quoted in the New York Times.

This is the case in the northern suburbs. In 1980, only 10 percent of the sixteen community region was made up of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. Today, that proportion has risen to more than 26 percent, nearly half of it (12.6 percent) Asian. In Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, and Skokie, one in four persons is Asian.  Highwood is the one community in which the non-Hispanic white population is under 50 percent; 56.9 percent of its population is Latino. 

But African Americans have made virtually no inroads in the northern suburbs, where it appears that they may have moved from Evanston (a loss of 3,610 African Americans) to Skokie (a gain of 3,255). This shift could be attributed to condominium conversions in Evanston and rising home prices. People of color and immigrants earn less than their native-born white counterparts.

All of this begs the question of why should we care.

From an individual rights standpoint, we should all be concerned that human beings continue to be turned away from the housing of their choice simply because they are Black. This is wrong, period.

From a neighborhood perspective, we should applaud the growing ethnic diversity of the North Shore. Our children benefit from having friends from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It builds understanding and empathy, important attributes to “global citizenship” in an increasingly interconnected world.

We should fight any effort to close our communities from those who would turn back the clock on 44 years of fair housing law. The Heritage Foundation, in a recent memo critical of the federal government’s settlement with Westchester County, NY to further racial integration for African Americans, would have us believe that “minority beneficiaries” don’t want to move to white areas and would have to be “compelled” to do so. They believe that integration is nothing less than an “imposed” exercise and “intrusion” into local markets. 

What these opponents do not understand is that on the contrary, it is housing discrimination and the failure to allow for affordable housing that constitute the “intrusion” into local markets. It is not a failure of the personal choice of "minorities." In the words of New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Pashman, in his 1975 concurrent opinion striking down exclusionary zoning practices:

“Many suburban communities have failed to learn the lesson of cultural pluralism. A homogeneous community, one exhibiting almost total similarities of taste, habit, custom and behavior is culturally dead, aside from being downright boring. New and different life styles, habits and customs are the lifeblood of America. They are its strength its growing force. Just as diversity strengthens and enriches the country as a whole, so will it strengthen and enrich a suburban community.”

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RB July 13, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Rich, aka oxyMORON, if you had a TV, you could see Willard this afternoon. He is giving a few interviews. FAUX of course, no MSNBC, CNN will have a lightweight interview him. He'll say nothing, but they must be really worried to parade him out in from of some microphones. Imagine, Offshore bank accounts, offshore companies, outsourcing, and not working for Bain when he really was.....he's got some splainin to do! He also has released a grand total of 1 tax return (from 2010). That's pathetic. Maybe he did not pay taxes? That would look bad....but, very Republican, so why worry?
Richard Schulte July 13, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Billy Bob: "There seems to be general agreement that economics (high property costs in particular) keep African Americans, with their "on average" lower economic status, out of the north suburbs." Obviously, the question which should be asked is: why black folks would have "lower economic status"? My answer to that question is the inferior schools which black children attend (and the fact that many black folks consider getting a good education as "acting white). Why do black children attend inferior schools? My answer to that question is that it's intentional. Democrats make sure that black children attend inferior schools to keep black folks on the Democrat plantation. Well-educated black folks would figure out what Democrats are really doing to them and start voting Republican and that would mean the end of the Democrat Party. The Democrats supported slavery, started the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), instituted Jim Crow and segregation. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Democrat racism is just more subtle today, but the result is the same.
Richard Schulte July 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM
RB (code pink guy): Rich, aka oxyMORON, if you had a TV, you could see Willard this afternoon. He is giving a few interviews. FAUX of course, no MSNBC, CNN will have a lightweight interview him. He'll say nothing, but they must be really worried to parade him out in from of some microphones. Imagine, Offshore bank accounts, offshore companies, outsourcing, and not working for Bain when he really was.....he's got some splainin to do! He also has released a grand total of 1 tax return (from 2010). That's pathetic. Maybe he did not pay taxes? That would look bad....but, very Republican, so why worry?" RB (code pink guy), you've been off topic all day. It looks like you're cracking up under pressure. "It's the economy stupid." All that other stuff you're talking about is just trying to distract us from the Obama economy and Obamacare.
Richard Schulte July 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM
RB, aka code pink guy, since you have wandered off-topic, I will take the opportunity to do the same. The following may be of interest: "A group called the Voter Participation Center has touted the distribution of some 5 million registration forms in recent weeks, targeting Democratic-leaning voting blocs such as unmarried women, blacks, Latinos and young adults. But residents and election administrators around the country also have reported a series of bizarre and questionable mailings addressed to animals, dead people, noncitizens and people already registered to vote. Brenda Charlston wasn't the only person to get documents for her pet: A Virginia man said similar documents arrived for his dead dog, Mozart, while a woman in the state got forms for her cat, Scampers. "On a serious note, I think it's tampering with our voting system," Charlston said. "They're fishing for votes: That's how I view it." " Source: http://www.gopusa.com/news/2012/07/13/why-voter-id-is-needed-dogs-and-dead-people-recruited-to-vote/?subscriber=1 Clearly, there is an effort underway by Democrats to undermine the validity of our election system in America. "The ends justifies the means." I know, it doesn't matter who votes, but rather who counts the votes. Lenin and Stalin ascribed to these methods. Chicago Democrats too.
Carlo July 26, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Correction. The president is not “Black” he is bi-racial. Get your facts straight!

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