August 7, 2013

Sign of things to come? Integration without blacks in New York City neighborhoods

New York City has always been a trendsetter for the rest of the country in art, fashion and cuisine. Now two researchers have documented a new demographic trend in the Big Apple that they suggest may be a glimpse of the future for other large American cities.

Researchers Ronald J.O. Flores and Arun Peter Lobo call it integration without blacks. In the past 40 years they found nearly a three-fold increase in the share of integrated New York City neighborhoods with a mix of whites, Hispanics and Asians but few, if any, blacks.

At the same time, the share of integrated neighborhoods in which blacks comprised at least 10% of the residents fell by about a third, Flores and Lobo reported in the latest Journal of Urban Affairs.

The result, they wrote, is an “emerging black/non-black color line, where Asians and Hispanics are increasingly aligned with whites while distancing themselves from blacks.”

Using Census data, the researchers analyzed shifts in integration patterns in 2,111 New York City census tracts between 1970 and 2010. This period marked an explosive period of demographic change in the city: During that time the share of whites-nearly two-thirds of the population in 1970-fell by about half to roughly 33%, while the proportion of blacks remained relatively stable at about 23%. At the same time, the city’s Hispanic population doubled to 28% and the Asian share grew more than six fold to 13%.

The researchers used census tracts as proxies for neighborhoods. They defined an integrated neighborhood as one in which whites comprised more than 10% but less than 70% of all residents while some mix of blacks, Asians or Hispanics comprised the remainder.

Within these integrated neighborhoods, they identified those that were “integrated, with blacks” And those that were “integrated, without blacks.” In order to be defined as neighborhoods that were integrated with blacks, African Americans had to make up at least 10% of the residents in the census tracts. Those labeled integrated without blacks contained fewer than 10% blacks.

Since 1970, Flores and Lobo found that the proportion of “integrated, without blacks” neighborhoods nearly tripled from 13% to 37% in 2010. At the same time, the share of “integrated, with blacks” areas fell from 22.4% to 14.9%. The biggest changes were in neighborhoods where minorities made up at least 70% of the residents, which grew dramatically, and those where whites were the clear majority, which plummeted as a share of all census tracts.

For Lobo and Flores, the emerging black/non-minority color line in New York City may be a sign of things to come. It’s a claim they admit making “with caution,” given the city’s distinct history and high levels of black and white residential segregation. Still, they suggest that what “we see in New York City now may be a glimpse of what we could see in the nation’s future.”

Residential racial integration can be measured in a number of ways, and different measures can lead to different conclusions. For another perspective, see this paper that suggests the emergence of stable and flourishing “global neighborhoods” where growing numbers of whites, blacks, Asians and Hispanics call home.

Category: Social Studies

Topics: Demographics, Segregation, Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

  1. Photo of Rich Morin

    is a senior editor focusing on social and demographic trends at Pew Research Center.


  1. Cathy Sheldrick2 years ago

    Hi, I recently visited Manhatten Island, and stayed in Harlem. I did not feel at ease in Harlem, and my companions refused to go into the Clubs such as the Red Rooster,and the Social Club because they could not see any white persons in those locations. We walked from 127 ST to Central Park and right at the edge of the park noticed a complete switch in demographics. The people we saw past 110 ST the fringe of Central Park were mostly white and the the ones towards Harlem were almost all black. It was as if someone had drawn a line. I questioned my colleagues as to why blacks would not be more prominent in Central Park. They had no answer. I did notice a large NYPD presence in the park in the way of a large police RV and smaller vehicles. It was very unsettling, and makes one wonder about America in general, since I am from Canada, where there is very little segregation compared to what I witnessed. I left Harlem on a Sunday, and walked by many blacks dressed in Sunday suits, who displayed books on integration. I did not feel welcome in Harlem, and thought it peculiar that the residents there thought it was a one way street. Blacks in Harlem need to make whites feel more comfortable, and the police in the rest of Manhattan need to make the blacks feel more comfortable in Central Park. More needs to be done regarding the disparity of wealth. In my lifetime (I am 58 years old) I have never seen such disparity between the rich and poor, and such regimented segregation in a modern community. New York needs to wake up! It is appalling. Shame….shame….shame.

  2. Jon2 years ago

    None of that is true. It’s only a parrot of the establishment song and dance that illogically paints black nationalism as benign and white nationalism as a threat. The reality is that all nationalism is exactly the same, and any other stance is shamelessly racist. Nationalism has the potential for harm, but it can also be a peaceful need for cultural and sociopolitical separation for any race. As long as you perpetuate anti-white racist political views that are rooted in a hypocritical and nonsensical double standard, your views will be rightly derided as rubbish.

  3. OspreyDave4 years ago

    I’m 71 years old, and although things are better than they were when I was a kid, there is still not the acceptance of other races and cultures that we must have if we expect to significantly improve our country. As long as there is suspicion and resentment and latent hatred because of color or culture, we will not realize our full potential.

    I believe that we must mount a real effort to intentionally break down real and imagined barriers. That effort must be made on an individual basis, and it must be done by individuals of all the parties involved. In my 71 years, I have never seen any effort to make that happen. It will take courage, faith, and tremendously strong leadership, and I don’t know anyone who has shown the slightest interest in addressing it, because it’s much easier to simply ignore it. Who among us is willing to deliberately seek out someone of another race or culture and invite them into our lives? And who is willing to respond in kind to such an overture? I’d love to see a real attempt at making this come true. Then we can call ourselves “exceptional”, and not before.

  4. Elf4 years ago

    What about black Hispanics? Who do they align with? I’m Hispanic and my family tends to be racist, but we have family members that are black, and racist commentaries are often hushed in their presence.

    1. GemGirl4 years ago

      Hating those who have not done anything to you personally makes no sense. Therefore, envy must be a major reason behind hate for darker people. Don’t even think about implying that black should be associated with “bad.”

      If people are honest, they would accept that all human beings regardless of race have positive and negative qualities. So those who project their negative qualities onto others need to own up to these qualities. Otherwise, their racism constitutes a mental disorder.

      So the real question is: Why do so many people with lighter skin envy those with darker skin? Could it be that people are in awe of darker people who have, for the most part, survived relentless racist assaults to their humanity yet remain creative,compassionate and cool? Black people have shaped the best parts of America’s popular culture and others have “borrowed from” black culture — despite ideological attempts to paint a picture of blacks as less intelligent. Native Americans, the other “dark” ones who were harmed by white settlers, maintain their cultural dignity and have laid a foundation for spirituality that is powerful and which many of all races attempt to emulate.

      1. Morgan T.4 years ago

        Maybe it’s envy, or maybe it’s a recognition that black people commit a disproportionate amount of crime, and that schools with large proportions of black students tend to be poorly-regarded? It brings me no pleasure to make those two statements, but they are reality.

  5. Befuddled4 years ago

    Well Gemgirl, black power exists in every aspect of our society. It is in every way I can see anti white. Even Quanza is highly racist and socialist. I’ve spent a lifetime listening to racist accusations by blacks and Liberals alike. Personally, I’ve had enough of it. I know some pretty fine people who are black and some pretty sorry excuses for so called white people. Blacks, if judged by TV and sports and every other special classification in our society have a much larger share of the market than do whites, Hispanics or Asians if we are being told the truth of their population density in this country. If they are so superior, as they seem to claim, then where is there humility and desire to make life better for all races? I can live with any race who wants to live with me in harmony. I just don’t see that climate in this country. Why would I want to submit myself or family to the discriminatory practices of the black race voluntarily? Seems to me I’m an innocent man whom the black and liberal government of this nation is blaming for all sins of the world’s history. Innocent and bearing the burden for things I have not done. It’s a sad state of affairs in this country needing some soul searching by the so called black minority with so much to be thankful for.

    1. GemGirl4 years ago

      Befuddled — Black people don’t promote the idea of black superiority. White supremacy ideology is what has been promoted since the beginning of American history, and has caused conflict between racial groups and harm to all human beings throughout history.

      The Birth of a Nation movie from the early 20th Century set the stage for white racist propaganda that has programmed too many minds to be ignorant. That movie was pure propaganda with white male actors in black face, falsely portraying an image of post-slavery era and free people of color as being violence-prone. The movie implied that black men would attempt to rape white women, and made Klansmen out to be heroes coming to the rescue of white women allegedly under attack by black men. This story was never factual. It was used by the Klan to scare white women into compliance because white males collectively did not want to have to compete with black men for the attention of white women and economic options.

      Black pride is NOT AGAINST anyone. Black people have every reason to counteract all the negative stereotypes and other garbage that has been promoted about their race over centuries. That’s the whole point of supporting black empowerment — to help people of color reject racist programming that wanted to imply they were “inferior.” The truth is that race has nothing to do with an individual’s intelligence.

      Black pride does not result in black people collectively colluding or excluding white or other races from opportunities. Nor do black people collectively seek to harm and engage in violence against white and other people.

      With the exception of the small percentage of black people who are responsible for most crime committed by blacks as a group (just as whites and all other racial groups have a relative criminals within their population), black people are generally cooperative, peaceful, humane and empathetic toward other human beings regardless of race.

    2. DJ3 years ago

      I find it interesting that the writer neglected to point out that the major news coming out of the 2011 census, was the fact that their has been a major exodus of African Americans out of the nation’s major urban centers, particularly in the Northeast. African Americans have increasingly moved into suburban communities, reflecting their increasing and generational wealth, and into the South, where they feel more at home. With the exception of Washington, DC, which is the city with one of the largest population of Black folk, African Americans are a dominant population in the South, and increasingly in bedroom suburban communities due to increasing wealth. So I don’t see this anti-Black integration as a growing trend across the nation, but in urban centers and states outside of the south. Given the migration, naturally, you would not find them integrating New York City multi-cultural communities. I wonder what the writer’s motive was for not mentioning this? I can’t believe someone from Pew’s Social and Economic Trends team has not reviewed the data on this. Black folks have agency, and they don’t want to be in these cities any longer; most did not want to be in these areas in the first place. We left the South a few decades ago in great numbers due to the racism and on-going violence/terrorism inflicted upon us, however many vowed to return home after working and saving money, which is what a lot of Black folks have done. We found ourselves in places like New York City, where African Americans comprise less than one percent of the teaching force, where segregation is the highest in the nation, and where blacks have disproportionate poverty and there are no plans for relief. I live between New York and New Orleans, with a plan to settle permanently in New Orleans, along with my husband who is still working in the city. I work in NOLA. I have met so many Black folks down south who have moved there over the past decade. Despite myths, there are quite a few industrious and smart Black folk in the South, who also hold our culture in a way that is not done in the North. My family in Ohio and Illinois, all migrated from major urban cities into suburban communities, and are doing well. Black folk I see down South in Louisiana, Mississippi and in Georgia are pooling money and resources to build homes, create companies and jobs, etc. My mid-western relatives do the same. In fact, more Black folk own their own property and companies than our Northern counterparts — the foundation for rising out of poverty and into the middle class. When I was growing up in the Mid-west, most African American children in my neighborhood were sent home for summers, as their parents wanted them to learn and to reinforce values germane to their families in the South, rather than from the Northern landscape. Many Black people still want this for their children — no shade. This writer/researcher acts as if we are losing something about not being in the integrated communities that he talks about, while many Black parents, especially those with in-tact extended families, feel that they can give their children something better. Those commenters on this site who point to crime, incarceration and the fact that other ethnic groups do not want African Americans in their integrated communities being the primary reason, really need to get over themselves. While many Black folks have nothing personally against other cultures or groups, they don’t find White, integrated communities to be the gold standard that obviously the writer and some of the commenters on this site find them to be. Some of us value living in communities where we can buy homes, build good schools, attend churches with people who share our values and traditions, and develop local economies where their own culture and people thrive, rather than having to take a second seat to whites and people who just arrived here, which is the way in New York city and other urban centers.

      1. REB3 years ago

        Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this response. That’s all I have to say!!!

      2. promoteforchange2 years ago

        Exactly! It’s called “black flight”. Look it up. Blacks left inner city communities for the suburbs to find cheaper housing, an opportunity at that American dream, and a shot at that white picket fence. The statement in the article believing that other races have decided to not align themselves with blacks only promotes racism. People see white people as having what they want. Everyone wants nice neighborhoods with low crime. Race is only a symptom of an issue that is first decided by class and financial abilities. Crime is in alignment with poverty, not race.

  6. GemGirl4 years ago

    And, your point is? Racism has always been used for divide-and-conquer purposes.

  7. Linda4 years ago

    I disagree with Mike. Blacks, influennced by the NAACP and other black leaders, have basically refused to integrate. They have been indoctrinated to believe in “Black Power” and have deliberately segregated themselves.

    1. GemGirl4 years ago

      From the perspective of blacks, “Black power” is a better option than believing in white supremacy, wouldn’t you say? At least black empowerment is not “ANTI” other people’s empowerment.

  8. D_Mike4 years ago

    This is hardly news to native black New Yorkers- there are huge swaths of the five boroughs that are remarkably integrated…but have few African -American residents. As a kid, we used to call them ABB (Anybody But Blacks) or NBA (No Blacks Allowed) neighborhoods.

    The main cause of this is racism. Many of these areas were formerly majority white, and the landlords in these areas would literally rent to anyone but an African-American during and after the period of white flight.

    As a result- areas hat used to be known as white ethnic enclaves ( ie Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Astoria) morphed into fake multicultural districts without much of a black presence.

    It’s still ongoing, as the study shows. I’ve been mysteriously rejected from more apartments I’ve applied to in Queens in the past five years than I ever have while trying to rent in Brooklyn.

    Unfortunately, due to gentrification, it’s now becoming harder for black people to even live in formerly majority African- American neighborhoods ( Northern Bed-Stuy) for example.

    I’d be willing to bet that some of the data referenced above doesn’t take into account the distribution of housing projects in those areas. Most of the time, those are the only parts of them with a concentration of black residents.

    1. Morgan T.4 years ago

      Why is a neighborhood “fake multicultural” if doesn’t have black residents? If it has a mix of whites, Hispanics and Asians, that’s a lot of different cultures already (and we shouldn’t forget that there is considerable cultural diversity WITHIN each racial category).