osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Vox Article On Resegregation Seems Ass Backward

Came across this on Vox which purports to show the resegregation of America.

The article claims that unlike white flight, where a few African Americans or Latinos moving into a neighborhood prompted white Americans to flee to the suburbs in the 1960s, "resegregation" in the suburbs is occurring more gradually largely based on decisions by individuals when they chose to move. In particular, the article focuses on the fact that white people are more likely to have ideas about black majority neighborhoods (similar to the way Trump keeps thinking they are all like Fort Apache, the Bronx).

But the article is very poorly sourced and seems to be drawing the wrong conclusion. The lead example is Worthington, MN, which went from a population of 9,000 nearly 100% to 12,000 of whome 1/3 are Latino.

What happened was a new meat processing plant opened in Worthington. As a result, Latinos came to work there. They communicated to friends and family looking for work that there was a big meat packing plant expanding. So the town grew.

The changing demographic had nothing to do with white flight, or even white sauntering, and everything to do with the Latino migration practices. Whites living in Worthington still lived there. Indeed, the rate of decrease in the white population overall slowed. True, other whites did not increase their migration along with Latinos, but why should they have? There were particularly things that attracted a new population of Latinos fairly quickly. There was nothing particularly new or interesting to attract non-Latinos, assuming they had even heard of Worthington, to move there.

Nor is the pattern described a particularly novel pattern. It is only novel when compared with demogrtaphic drivers of the 1960s and 1970s.

There is a reason why you can find towns in whatever geographic region we put the Dakotas and MN that are all Swedish, or all German, or all of some other particular white ehtnicity. Migrants tend to go to where there are other, similar migrants. True, this tends to be mostly urban areas -- because that's where the jobs are. This leads to some odd distributions that most people rarely notice, like a comparatively large Somali population in Minneapolis.

The article also fails to cover the most dramatic counter-example of its thesis: gentrification. Anyone in major urban hubs of San Francisco and New York City and DC know that white people are moving like crazy into primarily African American communities because of more affordable housing. This puts pressure on housing prices, which tends to push out the original residents. While creating resegregation, it is not because white people are afraid to move into Oakland or the Bronx.

There are so many other things wrong with this thesis that I need to stop myself. The more I look at it, the sloppier it appears.

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