Segregation in America

Douglas Massey, Jonathan Rothwell and Thurston Domina in their article “The Changing Bases of Segregation in the United States” argue that segregation was existent throughout the twentieth century. According to them, what has changed over that period is its intensity, nature and organization. In this article, the author brings to light the way how the major communities - African Americans, Asians and Latinos continuously experienced different forms of segregation in the twentieth century. During that period, the bases of segregation were race, class and ethnicity.

In their article, Massey, Rothwell and Domina study a number of researches on black and white segregation between 1920 and 1970 and recent trends of segregation by education, ideology and income during the period of 1970 - 2000.

The rates of segregation increased steadily between 1920 and 1970: there were high rates of geographical segregation between the blacks and the whites since the blacks settled mostly in the rural areas. However, World War II forced them to migrate to other places thus reducing the segregation levels.

Nevertheless, the rates began to drop starting from 1970 towards the end of the century. Although there were several policies and civil rights laws aimed at weakening the forces of discrimination and prejudice, not much has changed since other kinds of segregation emerged. From the article it is clear that African Americans preferred to stay close to their own people. After the urbanization in the 1970s, the highest residential segregation in the U.S. history was recorded. African Americans settled in major cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington and others. However, the rate of segregation dropped in the last third of the twentieth century and it continued to reduce. However, the other groups - Latinos, American Indians and Asians displayed lower levels of segregation than the blacks. The overall segregation was moderate at the end of the century as a multiracial setting became part of the American society.

Although the racial-ethnic segregation declined, other forms of it emerged. Income inequalities rose, where the better-off opted for better dwellings and, as a result, class isolation increased. Poverty and affluence as well as education became more prevalent within neighborhoods of the metropolitan areas. Therefore, the affluent people with higher education segregated from the rest. At the end of the century, ideology polarization accompanied the increase in income inequality. In spite of the fact that the data used by the authors does not represent a sample large enough to be stable, from the 2000 election it can be seen that there was dissimilarity between liberals and conservatives during the period between 1994 and 2004. After that election this division shot upwards and can be seen up to date.

In conclusion, the socioeconomic and racial segregation are unlikely to disappear in the near future, though I seriously doubt whether their heights would reach those experienced by the African Americans in the middle of the twentieth century. Americans have become more tolerant to the racial-ethnic mixture; they prefer racially mixed neighborhoods and are less discriminative in lending markets. However, segregation will still continue to exist in form of land-use policies such as density zoning - not explicitly class or race biased, though class and racial prejudice are not likely to disappear.

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