City Desk

Study: Segregation Is Dead, Except In D.C.

The conservative Manhattan Institute has a study out that describes the "end of the segregated century." A lot of stats aren't a surprise: There are very few all-white neighborhoods left in the U.S., cities are more integrated than they've been in 100 years, and gentrification and immigration have reduced segregation in cities, but not as much as black people heading for the suburbs.

Of special interest to us however, is the section on Washington, D.C., where, the authors explain, integration has happened in black neighborhoods:

Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood has witnessed rapid change, from 95 percent black in 2000 to 31 percent black in 2010, as redevelopment led to a 50 percent increase in population.[3] A more gradual process of racial change is occurring in the city’s northwest quadrant, where several neighborhoods have seen a 25 percent drop in the proportion of black residents over the past decade.[4] This area represents the forefront of a wave of gentrification that began in Georgetown some decades ago and has crept steadily eastward since.

The “untipping” of a handful of neighborhoods near the city center is accompanied by the more numerous regions of African-American Washington where no trace of gentrification exists. In 2000, the District of Columbia contained 17 census tracts—with 46,796 inhabitants among them—that were more than 98 percent black. As of 2010, every single one of them remained more than 95 percent black. Gentrification in Washington, as elsewhere, has occurred primarily at the fringe of the ghetto.

And, more than that, D.C. is desegregating more slowly than other cities. Based on Census data, neither the larger black tracts nor D.C.'s whiter neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park are integrating very much.

Photo by Eric Fischer via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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  • Northwesterner

    I tend to think one problem is the lack of diversity in Washington, DC itself. If you hop the border to Bethesda you see a plurality of half a dozen different nationalities: East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, African, European Immigrants, Latin people from all over South and Central America and the Carribean. In DC neighborhoods I still see White, Black and a smattering of Carribean and Latino people. The suburbs have become more diverse in the last 20 years, DC appears to remain two large ethnic groups.

  • spottieottie

    this is why i hate meeting white people around my age (30) who were born & raised in DC proper and therefore believe that this gives them some sort of street credibility. it's likely their contact with minorities was as minimal as the minority representation in their schools.

  • Pla

    Do you only equate street cred with minority populations?

  • Ben

    Do you want "some kind of street credibility" when you're 30? Well then you'd better find a minority to be your neighbor while you grow up!

  • Anon

    Your article is totally misleading. If you read the report, the D.C. area ranks 7th of the ten largest metro areas in terms of segregation. Of the 13 cities with the largest African-American populations, D.C. is in the bottom half in terms of segregation. D.C. may be desegregating more slowly than some other cities, but it also is desegregating more quickly than others.


  • RN

    Secondary definition of ghetto from Merriam Websters: 2 : a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure

    Why are the black neighborhoods referred to as the ghetto whereas by the definition, ie Caucasians are the minority in DC, it is the white neighborhhoods that should be called ghettos.

  • spottieottie

    No, Pla - THEY do!

  • oboe

    I've met lifelong DC residents who had zero significant interaction with white people until they went to college.

  • Wrack

    "Street cred" is the twin wannabe brother of "being cool" in high school. I'm with Ben: who cares?

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  • Ward 6 Resident

    Diversity is missing in DC but it is the diversity found in not having ethnic and working class neighborhoods. We are a city with a large upper income population and a large lower income population. Not much in between.

  • NE John

    NE remains cool. Me and the brothers and sisters coexist with no problems.

  • jinushaun

    I agree with Ward 6. DC lacks a middle class, which is why there is a large separation between the rich and poor neighborhoods. We're all living in Virginia and Maryland.

  • Wrack

    White, black, blah blah blah. What a useless thing to worry about.

  • Wrack

    I should clarify my previous comment: the more we concern ourselves with this issue, the more we have to define and categorize groups of people (e.g., is "Hispanic" a separate "race?" Why? Where do you draw the line? What if someone is 3/4 "white" and 1/4 "black" -- is she white or black?), and, thus, the more we end up perpetuating these largely-arbitrary distinctions and wasting time fretting about the past instead of actually integrating everyone's lives. (Not to sound like a flower child, but....)

  • cc

    spottieottie, Wilson HS is mostly black and has been since at least the early 70s. I don't know how much street cred that means that white generations have had, but whites are the minority in DC schools and have constant contact with national minorities.

  • whitemocha89

    That is exactly how it is.