City Desk

Vanilla City?

Word out of the U.S. Census Bureau today was that "metropolitan areas"—read, cities and their suburbs—are growing much faster than rural America. Which puts D.C. right in line with one national trend. But the nation's white population barely grew—which makes the District an outlier.

Census officials say 83.7 of the population now lives in metropolitan areas, and that more than 90 percent of the national population growth between the 2000 Census and last year's occurred in cities and their surrounding suburbs. Also growing rapidly: Counties on the fringe of metropolitan areas (like Loudon County or Prince William County here, for instance).

The District's population, counted at 601,723, grew for the first time since 1950, reflecting the surge in metropolitan areas. But here in D.C., that change mostly manifested itself as a flood of white people.

D.C.'s non-Hispanic white population grew by 31.6 percent, while the non-Hispanic African American population dropped 11.5 percent. The city is now 34.8 percent non-Hispanic white and 50 percent non-Hispanic African American; 10 years ago, D.C. was 27.8 percent non-Hispanic white and 59.4 percent non-Hispanic black. The population of those of Hispanic or Latino origin increased by 21.8 percent; the District is now 9.1 percent Hispanic or Latino, up from 7.9 percent in 2000. (The city's relatively small Asian population also grew, up 38.4 percent to make up 3.5 percent of the population.) Because the Census counts Hispanic as an ethnicity, not a race, those figures sound a little clunky.

That's a shocking change in a city that once inspired Parliament to name an album (and song) Chocolate City. Anecdotally, evidence of the whitening of the District has been around for years; it's become a barely veiled topic in the city's politics, and the new data isn't likely to damp discussion of race in D.C.

There is some reason to believe what's happening is that white residents, who used to predominate in suburbs, and black residents, who used to dominate urban populations, are switching places. As USA Today noted recently, "The black population is declining in a growing number of major cities—more evidence that the settlement pattern of African Americans is changing as they disperse to suburbia and warmer parts of the nation." Though it's not clear precisely where the District's African Americans are headed, nearby Prince George's County saw growth in the 15-25 percent range, and the number of whites in the state of Maryland decreased by 0.9 percent.

Take a look at the Census Bureau's data here:

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  • StringsAttached

    Vanilla, chocalate, caramel, whatever you want to call it doesn't matter. As long as good PEOPLE populate the city, thats all that matters. The census is old news anyways, I took the census in VA and moved to DC by the end of the year; who know how much could have changed since the census was taken?

  • Jon Bon Jovi

    Race doesn't matter to me -- immigration status does. I want the illegals gone, with their anchor babies, whatever color or nationality they are. These people sneak into the United States, then play the victim when their illegal status is discovered, and brutally and callously use their kids as bargaining tools. "Oh, you can't send me back to El Salvador and Mexico, Mr. Mean and Cruel U.S. Immigration Worker, I have ninos!"If they loved their children as much as they claim, they would never have endangered their welfare by giving birth to them in this country, risking separation. If these criminals get to stay, not only do we have to feed and clothe the adults, but their children make a whole new generation for us to take care of through our social service networks. (If you doubt that, go to any even moderately sized city's health department and welfare office and count the number of non-Hispanics -- it won't take you long.) Let's have a Constitutional amendment regarding citizenship: If parents are in this country illegally, their kids don't get U.S. citizenship, period, whether Salvadoran, Mexican, Irish, Cuban, Nigerian, etc., etc. Even though this amendment would cover every nationality, no one can deny that it would take care primarily of the illegal Hispanics, who only come here so they can sponge off their achor babies. These women pull this crap by the millions, and it's past time for us to put an end to it (and for the Catholic Church to stop giving these criminals sanctuary). A criminal's a criminal. Let's get rid of the ones who aren't native to us.

  • Rene

    Jon Bon Jovi...Amen!

  • Jim Ed

    Whoa whoa whoa, this isn't vanilla city! it's organic, fair trade vanilla city which was purchased from an environmentally conscious locally owned business!

  • Mike in DC

    Could you get away with saying "flood of black people"? Prob not. Then maybe "flood of white people" in inappropriate as well. There can be a conversation about race without racism. Obviously, not here.

  • Cardinal Fang

    Jon Bon Jovi, you're a racist, xenophobic piece of shit. Please show us your family's immigration and citizenship papers to prove that you're a citizen. Little pieces of paper are apparently very important to you.

  • Eric

    Alex: The non-Hispanic white population stands at 38.5% not 34.8%.

  • Eric

    Also, if you live in the city, you know that 9.1% Hispanic does not sound too far off. It's still a teeny tiny population in DC proper.

  • Mike Madden

    Mike in DC --

    What about "a flood of white people" strikes you as racist? (Though since this does mark the first time in history that anyone's accused City Paper of being racist against whites, I guess I shouldn't complain.)

  • Mike Madden

    Eric --

    The 38.5 percent figure comes from a Census chart that doesn't account for Hispanic or Latino origin at all. Including the 9.1 percent Hispanic or Latino population in the total, non-Hispanic whites are 34.8 percent.

  • Sub_Z

    What is hilarious is the fact that the article seems to suggest that Black fold have "dispersed" to suburbs with no account of the cause. How about they have been priced out of the District? How about the voucher program that shipped gaggles of black folk from Clifton St. NW to PG (affectionately known as Ward 9 nowadays. Just Cause and effect, babies.

  • George Gauthier

    Only fifty years ago, DC had a white majority. Then many whites moved to the suburbs, for better schools and to escape urban decay and crime. Now that the city is much more livable once again, it is no surprise that the pendulum is swinging back.

  • Mike Madden

    @ George Gauthier,

    "Then many whites moved to the suburbs, for better schools and to escape urban decay and crime." True, but also because of blockbusting, and an irrational fear of having black neighbors.

  • snowpead

    What's the difference between Black and African American?