Economics/Class Relations

The U.S. Is Increasingly Diverse, So Why Is Segregation Getting Worse?

By Alana Semuels, Time

The integration battles of the Civil Rights era happened more than half a century ago, but the U.S. is getting more, not less, segregated, as that past recedes.

More than 80% of large metropolitan areas in the United States were more segregated in 2019 than they were in 1990, according to an analysis of residential segregation released Monday by the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. The U.S. has become more diverse over time, which has obscured the persistence of segregation, the report finds. Metropolitan areas aren’t all-white, all-Black, or all-Latino, but within metropolitan areas, the different races are clustered in segregated neighborhoods, creating social and economic divisions that can fuel unrest.

The U.S. continues to be a place of segregation, not integration,” says Stephen Menendian, assistant director at the Othering & Belonging Institute, which studies the roots of social and economic inequality in the United States.

The report breaks new ground by looking at how the racial makeup of census tracts differs significantly from the racial makeup of the larger metropolitan area that surround them. Areas may appear to be integrated because they are home to many different racial groups, when in fact those groups live completely apart. The city of Detroit is 80% Black, for instance, while Grosse Pointe, a suburb that shares a border with the city, is 90% white.


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