A couple months ago, some blogger wrote about how she noticed there were almost no African-American professionals living in the South End. I read about it on the Universal Hub blog.
When I first moved to Boston’s South End two years ago, I was absolutely delighted by the prospect of a multicultural neighborhood in Boston. I grew up in Philadelphia, which, after living in Boston for 8 years, seemed like the bastion of diversity. I know that’s not entirely true, but nevertheless one can enter a nice downtown restaurant without being “the only one” …
… This diversity problem is so bad that my (mostly white) group of friends remark every time they visit: “Okay, are we in the Twilight Zone? Where are all the Black people in this city?” People might think it’s entirely within reason for a large American city to be so segregated, but I’m here to tell you, IT’S NOT NORMAL!
So this is why I was so psyched to find the South End. At first glance, the neighborhood does appear to be incredibly diverse.
But when I look closer, I can see that the races aren’t mixing. They’re just overlapping. Subsidized housing bumps into the Villa Victoria, which bumps into 6 million dollar condos, which bump into Chinatown. Instead of an orchestral melody that one might find in Philly’s Mount Airy, the South End often grates at my ears like a clashing cacophony of sounds.
The South End has certainly changed during the past decade (or two) (or five, for that matter). Most recently, a large South End congregation has sold its church to a local developer. They weren’t forced to do so, according to them; it was just that its members had moved out of the neighborhood. They were very happy to take the money and run.
But, is the South End “less diverse” than it used to be? My analysis leads me to conclude “no”.
But that’s not the point of this entry.
It’s more about how many major US cities have been undergoing changes in their racial makeup.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Decades of white flight transformed America’s cities. That era is drawing to a close …
… For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably — and in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The previous decade, only three cities saw increases.
The changing racial mix is stirring up quarrels over class and culture. Beloved institutions in traditionally black communities — minority-owned restaurants, book stores — are losing the customers who supported them for decades. As neighborhoods grow more multicultural, conflicts over home prices, taxes and education are opening a new chapter in American race relations.
Unfortunately, there’s not too much specifically about Boston in the article, but a worthy read.
The End of White Flight – By Conor Dougherty, The Wall Street Journal
Diversity in Boston’s South End: Melting pot? Maybe not. – Cheap Thrills blog