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Report: Segregation persists amid growing diversity

WASHINGTON (AP) – Segregation persisted in big cities over the past decade amid the nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity, said a report that provoked calls for stronger enforcement of laws against housing discrimination.

Distinct living patterns continued to hold sway in large urban centers where most of America’s blacks, Hispanics and Asians are located, said the report released Tuesday by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

With forecasts suggesting even greater diversity in the future, advocacy groups urged federal and local governments to step up enforcement of fair-housing regulations and upgrade education in minority neighborhoods.



Blacks and whites were most likely to be segregated in the Detroit metropolitan area, the study said, while whites, Hispanics and Asians were most likely to live separately in New York.

It is ”troubling at a time of massive demographic change, when the need for Americans to communicate across racial and ethnic lines is greater than ever before, that we are less likely than ever to live in diverse neighborhoods,” said Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization.




The Bush administration is committed to stepping up enforcement of fair housing laws, a spokesman for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez said Tuesday night.

Recently released Census 2000 data showed that Hispanic, black and Asian population growth far outpaced that of whites over the 1990s. The Hispanic population drew virtually even with non-Hispanic blacks as the nation’s largest minority group.

The Census Bureau considers ”Hispanic” an ethnicity, not a race; therefore, Hispanics can be of any race.

Data from the once-a-decade head count also showed more minorities moving from cities and into suburbs. Many of those suburbs were becoming just as racially divided as urban areas, said State University of New York at Albany professor John Logan, who wrote the report.

Logan noted that among the country’s top 50 metropolitan areas, many of the least segregated ones for blacks were in the South. Many blacks had moved from that region early last century to escape racial discrimination.

Still, ”the bottom line of the last decade is that there has been very little change in underlying levels of segregation,” Logan said.

Among other findings in metropolitan areas:

-The typical white lived in a neighborhood that was 80 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, 7 percent black and 4 percent Asian. The typical black lived in a neighborhood that was 51 percent black, 33 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian.

-There was a 10 percent decrease between 1990 and 2000 in black-white segregation in metro areas where blacks made up no more than 3 percent of the population.

-Over 24 million blacks lived in areas where they made up more than 10 percent of the population. Black-white segregation levels in those areas declined 3 percent, which Logan said was not significant.

Similar trends also were evident within the Hispanic and Asian populations, though Asians were more likely to live in more diverse communities.

Advocacy groups placed part of the blame on federal and local governments, calling for stronger enforcement of fair housing laws and regulations.

”The white public tends to believe that the problem has been solved,” said Gary Orfield of Harvard. ”There has never been more than a very small enforcement effort,” he said, and the isolation of minority families has always been high.

Despite Detroit’s population loss over the last decade and its tag as ”the most segregated city,” Mayor Dennis Archer said recent economic improvements have highlighted his goal to ”make it as attractive as possible so that whoever wants to come and live here can enjoy themselves, irrespective of color.

”We celebrate that diversity,” Archer said.

On the Net: Census Bureau site: http://www.census.gov/

Civil Rights Project at Harvard: http://www.law.harvard.edu/groups/civilrights/

State University of New York at Albany’s Mumford Center: http://www.albany.edu/mumford/census/


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