Friday, April 20, 2007

Moving Daze, pt. 3 - Available data do not suggest recent migration trends (discussed elsewhere) are primarily a "white flight" phenomenon. In fact, based on some of the data, the opposite appears to be true. A Census Bureau report entitled, Geographical Mobility: 1995 to 2000 indicates that non-Hispanic whites were overall the least mobile racial or ethnic group, although mobility generally varied by race and ethnicity. Subsequent data from the Census Bureau’s 2004 American Community Survey tell a similar story. In the survey, of people who are moving within the same county, Hispanics of any race and blacks were among the groups most likely to move, at 13.2 percent and 12.7 percent respectively. For inter-county moves, the races were fairly comparable, ranging from 2.7 percent for Hispanics of any race to 4.1 percent for Native Hawaiians.

The phenomenon of minorities leaving traditionally "blue" areas was documented in an April 3, 2006 New York Times article entitled "New York City Losing Blacks, Census Shows." The article described "stark contrasts in the migration patterns of blacks and whites."

While white New Yorkers are still more likely than blacks to leave the city, they are also more likely to relocate to the nearby suburbs (which is where half the whites move) or elsewhere in the Northeast, or to scatter to other cities and retirement communities across the country. Moreover, New York remains a magnet for whites from most other states.

In contrast, 7 in ten black people who are moving leave the region altogether. And, unlike black migrants from Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit, most of them go to the South, especially to Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia. The rest move to states like California, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan with large black populations.
The article pointed out that many of the black former residents left "for economic reasons" and described the majority of the African Americans who left the New York area as married couples with children and those who were "lower income, less educated and elderly." (It is interesting to note that the southern migration that the article describes began after South's political and social realignment towards conservatism, and represents a reversal of the migration that occurred throughout the early 20th century when the South was ruled by the "Dixie-crats".)

So too can we see a migration of African Americans from the city of Chicago to the suburbs and elsewhere, as referenced in the April 1, 2007 Chicago Tribune, which noted that during 2000-2004, "73,488 more blacks left Chicago than moved in." The article went on to say that 37,742 whites and 31,131 Hispanics left Chicago during the same period. And although different in scale, a similar migration of blacks has been documented in San Francisco over the past 25 years, as noted in the April 15, 2007 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.
San Francisco officials are putting together a task force to develop a strategy to preserve the city's rapidly declining African-American population, and possibly attract new African-American residents. This is a laudable goal, but at this late date -- San Francisco's black population has dropped from about 13.4 percent of the city to 6.5 percent over the last 25 years -- is there anything the city can really do? If so, are other San Franciscans likely to be as enthusiastic as are their officials?

The mere fact that city officials feel the need to put together a "task force" to stem the bleeding of African-American residents to other communities reveals how far this ship has already sailed past the horizon. San Francisco likes to bill itself as a diverse city, but the numbers -- 53 percent white and 33.5 percent Asian, mostly Chinese -- expose its relative homogeneity in comparison with other cities, such as Los Angeles or New York. San Francisco has the lowest proportion of black residents of any large city in the United States -- even lower than Seattle or San Diego. Demographers have also noted that the African Americans who move out of San Francisco tend to be more upwardly mobile -- so that the few black residents who are left constitute a poorer underclass. Certainly the isolation of these residents -- about one-third of San Francisco's African-American population lives in the Bayview district, which is so separate from the rest of the city that it resembles a South African township -- underscores San Francisco's uneasy feelings toward them.
I trust that it will not appear gratuitous to point out that [The People's Republic of] San Francisco is a liberal enclave par excellence. It is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home base, and as discussed elsewhere, the San Francisco school board voted last year to abolish its JROTC program. San Francisco voters expressed support for a non-binding resolution to ban military recruiters from their public schools. Being good progressives, they also recently passed a resolution urging the U.S. to "withdraw all troops from Iraq and bring all military personnel in Iraq back to the United States." And of course in January of 2004, San Francisco was among a handful of cities to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors even went as far as voting 8-3 against bringing the WWII battleship USS Iowa to San Francisco as a floating museum. So for blacks to feel this marginalized in the midst of what would seem to be a paradise of harmony and diversity puts to lie much of what is accepted as canon regarding liberalism.

More to come...

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