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Census Data Shows Mississippi One of the Most Racially Integrated State

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 16 Dec 2010 07:31am | comments
The US Census Logo.

Early census numbers show that Americans are living in more racially integrated neighborhoods. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Mississippi is one of the most integrated states in the country.

When Brookings Institute Demographer Bill Frey broke down the new information he saw a national trend toward a more integrated society.

By his count, Mississippi is the third most racially integrated state in the Union, but Frey cautions against being too optimistic.

"I don't think we should put on rose-colored glasses because there is still fairly high levels in a lot of places even though they are declining some. There are still 12 metropolitan areas where the index is 70 or more. 70 meaning 70% of blacks would have to move to a different neighborhood to be distributed just like whites," Frey said.

In Mississippi, 48-percent of blacks would have to move to a different neighborhood to be as equally distributed as whites.

Economics are playing role in the increasing integration. Jackson State Archivist Angela Stewart says young and middle class African-Americans are more willing to leave traditionally black areas.

"More upwardly mobile African-Americans have chosen to move to the suburbs and affluent enclaves even in cities as opposed to average neighborhoods," Stewart said.

Stewart also says the recession has made it a lot harder for people to pick up an leave if they don't like the changing racial make-up of their neighborhood.

Clifford Holley, who runs the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi, is optimistic about the findings but is also cautious about making broad judgments.

"So you can actually have a tract that it says its completely integrated but there is still segregation within the tract. So your instrument is not really measuring true segregation," Holley said.

The census results will also be politically important when Mississippi lawmakers use them to redraw state voting districts during the next session.

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The US Census Logo.


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