Housing Segregation

The word 'segregation' now symbolically represents the life of the negatively privileged minorities in United States. This segregation has resulted into isolated, ill developed and racially segregated housing that will encourage racial mistrust, senseless conflicts and other discriminations which will ultimately prevent the society from obtaining true racial equality (Kain & Quigley, 1975). Residential segregation has negatively influenced the overall improvement of the poor minorities in United States. This segregation has retarded the growth of the society, in general.

Segregation has resulted in systemic inequalities, and stands as a barrier to the development (of the whole society) and personal improvement of individuals, which will ultimately contribute for the widening of the socio-economic gap between superior group (whites) and the minorities (Atkinson, 1970). This is often true in the case of African Americans. Segregation affects the minority groups in several ways. Economically, poverty will get concentrated in these poor neighborhoods (where minorities reside) thereby limiting the fiscal capacity of the minority municipalities, and resulting in poor resources and infrastructures in minority neighborhoods (Hoover, 1941). This will ultimately end up in low standard schools, low quality libraries, poor public spaces, and will result in the unavailability of essential services like fire services, law enforcement services, improved transportation options and so forth (Collins & Margo, 2000).

Residential segregation measures are found to be depended upon the definitions of race and ethnicity. The Statistical Policy Directive 15 (1977) of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) came up with an outline for data gathering on race and ethnicity (in the decennial census 1980) for Census Bureau and other Federal agencies. According to the instruction set, there are four racial groups. Whites, American Indians, Eskimos, or Aleut, Negros, and Asian or Pacific Islander (Duncan & Duncan, 1955).

There would be one ethnicity, which is Spanish/Hispanic (origin or descendents). In the censuses of 1980 and 1990, questionnaire requested people to place themselves in any of these racial groups and specify if they were Hispanic. Later after considering public opinion and studying the matter, Office of Management and Budget reworked the classification and included five factions.

They were Whites, Black or African Americans, Asians, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders. People were given permission to include themselves in more than one group. Nearly 7 million people (almost 2.

4 percent of the entire population) reported in multiple races in the Census 2000. There exist conflicts and clashes of thoughts between these ethnic groups. A different type of racism, which is rooted in cultural and demographic differences, location and economic status also exist.

These are also destructive, even though they are not directly depended on ethnic differences. There are clashes among factions within a racial group that demands further partition. This internal racism within racial groups is also dangerous. For example, Puerto Ricans who live in the island have a general attitude to people who have migrated and living in United States. During the first half of 20th century, many people moved to United States looking for better economic opportunities. Emigrants were seen with an inferior eye as they belonged to a weak part of the economic spectrum and also because they had no educational background.

They were found deprived of good residential facilities and could get only low class housing areas in United States. They could find housing only in socially and economically downtrodden areas and became a specific community which was considered low grade. This housing segregation led to the formation of economically poor, homogenous communities (in New York). This resulted in discrimination towards these people from those living in the island.

Interracial racism exists not only in certain racial groups. For example, members of one Hispanic section are differentiated from another racial group, the African Americans, mainly on the basis of cultural disparities created out of differing backgrounds. They sometimes consider skin color (lightness or darkness) as a criterion of differentiation (differentiating marker). Internal racism is found among Africans and African-Americans and even within African Americans.

Racism is purely a socially learned practice. It has been some thing which has been followed by people and transferred to their next generations. It a powerful, destructive and senseless behavior (Morrison, 1970). Race is a very powerful social divide which can invite so many problems (Charles, 1955).

The concept of discrimination can be traced back to the 18th and 19th century racist ideas and discriminations. The discrimination found between white and black people have permeated to the black communities also. Lighter blacks are considered superior to the darker blacks. Skin color is the base for the practice of racism. The discriminated group will be comparatively darker than the discriminator. All this resulted into social economic as well as political segregation in United States.

Economic status is also closely related with this status. Treating all individuals equally has become a distant dream. These segregations have spread to almost all spheres, and have resulted in housing segregation also.

Everybody, all the inferior groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, have housing segregation issues. Looking into the residential segregation of American Indians and Alaska Natives, we can see that many of them reside in rural American Indian reservations or in Alaska Native villages. Their population size is relatively small.

Out of the 4.1 million population of American Indians and Alaska Natives (according to Census 2000), 1.4 million people reside away from the metropolitan areas (Frey & Farley, 1996). These two groups constitute 1.

5 percent of the total population. Very less percent of these two groups reside in metropolitan areas. Hardly three percent of the metropolitan residents are from these two groups of people.

American Indians and Alaska Natives are also not able to reside in better part of the city. Big metropolitan areas have higher residential segregation than smaller metropolitan areas (Massey & Denton, 1988). Metropolitan areas of Oklahoma (south region) have less residential segregation compared to metropolitan areas of West. Considering the status of residential segregation of Asian and Pacific Islander population, we can find that like the American Indians and Alaska Natives, these groups also do not account for a large proportion of population of US. Asian and Pacific Islanders are mostly occupied in West but are found to be more urban compared to non-Hispanic whites. According to Census 2000, 83 percent of the Pacific Islanders and 95 percent of the Asians reside in metropolitan areas.

According to various studies, Pacific Islanders are less residentially segregated than Asians. According to the 2000 Census, Hispanics or Latinos are the biggest minority group (in US). The residential segregation status of Hispanics in US is different in various metropolitan areas.

Segregation rate declined in few places, but was found to be inclining in certain metropolitan cities. Blacks are the more residentially segregated group compared to the other groups. Hispanics are the second negatively privileged group. American Indians and Alaska Natives are comparatively less residentially segregated than Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Housing segregation still remains as a big problem in United States. Black-white segregation persists in its highest form in the nation (Yinger, 1999). Blacks are found to be driven to the worse neighborhoods compared to white people of similar economic and social standing. They are deprived of good residential places and live in backward areas having big crime rates. Blacks are not able to find good residential location as a result of strong social forces that bring about discrimination and favoritism in real estate and mortgage lending practices also.

Segregation is found as the fundamental reason of scarcity and backwardness in black African Americans. Despite of the positive steps taken at the Civil Rights movement, reducing rate of housing segregation is found to be very slow. Cities are geographically divided according to these racial bounds. Segregation has resulted in the creation of a less privileged group residing in low class areas, who are deprived of good educational and employment opportunities. No business will appear in these areas since nobody will dare to invest in areas where nothing but crime alone exists. People will remain poor in these areas with less money and no opportunity of employment.

They will not have any source of income and are imprisoned in the vicious cycle of scarcity and sufferings. Housing segregation can be for good in certain cases. A particular group of people belonging to same race can occupy a particular geographical area. This will help the people of that group to interact with people belonging to their group. Members of inferior group can escape from the racial or other insults and discriminations (Yinger, 1998).

Blacks may have to face insults if they reside in the neighborhood of other superior white people. They will not be given equal opportunity in schools, colleges, employment places (Theil & Finizza, 1971). They will get only a second consideration in everything. Instead of residing in a society which seldom gives any privilege, it is always better to reside in a place where one feels comfortable. Housing segregation will be for good in these cases.

People of one particular ethnic group can reside in one place and develop a society filled with mutual help and cooperation. For example, if African Americans reside in one particular area, they can develop their own identity and can help themselves escape from the evil effects of racism. Children of inferior race (blacks) often have to face discriminations in schools and other places. This can seriously affect the development of their personality.

If children of these inferior races are allowed to study in a school of their own, they do not have to face the painful discrimination in their young age itself. Housing segregation will be good in this like cases. Residing in same place will develop the unity and cooperation of these inferior races. They can develop strategies to improve their status and can demand rights as a group. They will be able to unite and become a big faction that has some voice in the political, economical and social scene (Cutler & Glaeser, 1997). They can play well in politics and can claim their rights and demands.

Being scattered in different places (different residential areas) will not help the developing of that unity. People can enjoy more freedom in their own premises and can live a discrimination free life, which will eventually result in the improvement of that particular group and the nation itself. Housing segregation can thus offer many positive results also.

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