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: How residential segregation continues to shape Black Americans’ quality of life

Black Americans living in highly segregated neighborhoods report more nearby crime and drug abuse, worse air quality, a greater lack of affordable housing, and fewer safe places for their children to play locally compared to their Black peers living in white neighborhoods. 

That’s according to a new report from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which detailed the differences in survey responses between Black people living in majority non-white neighborhoods and Black people living in majority-white communities. 

In the survey, Black adults in predominantly non-white neighborhoods also gave lower ratings to the quality of their schools, policing and emergency services, all while also being more concerned about crime. They were also more likely to want to move out of their communities while lacking the resources to do so, and they reported more serious financial problems when compared to their peers in white neighborhoods, according to a report on the survey findings. 

“To me, it says a lot about the impact of poverty — and what do we need to do to increase incomes so that people are able to achieve a higher quality of life?” Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told MarketWatch.

More than half (55%) of Black adults living in predominantly non-white neighborhoods, some of which have been shaped by years of underinvestment and racially discriminatory policies, said they’d fallen behind on their life goals in the past year, compared to 45% of Black adults living in predominantly white neighborhoods.

The results of the poll were especially notable because many big metropolitan regions have grown more segregated in the past 30 years.

The survey itself was conducted from May 16 through June 13 and encompassed nearly 4,200 adults, though to drill down into neighborhood differences in a report, researchers detailed the experiences of 610 non-Hispanic Black adults living in predominantly non-white neighborhoods and 493 non-Hispanic Black adults living in predominantly white neighborhoods.

Predominantly white neighborhoods were defined as Census tracts with more than half of the population identifying as a non-Hispanic white person, while majority non-white neighborhoods were defined as Census tracts with more than half of the population identifying as a person of a racial or ethnic minority.

Black people living in predominantly white neighborhoods didn’t always have it easy either, though. Forty-nine percent of Black people in predominantly white neighborhoods reported “serious financial problems,” compared to 61% of Black people in majority non-white neighborhoods, according to the survey. Thirty-eight percent of white adults said the same.

And even Black adults living in majority-white neighborhoods were more interested in moving than their white counterparts, according to the poll. They were also about similarly likely to report that local racism in their communities was a big problem or somewhat of a problem for themselves and their households when compared to their Black peers in predominantly non-white neighborhoods.

One bright spot in the survey, however: Regardless of neighborhood racial composition, Black households with kids under 18 largely believed their children will graduate from college.

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