Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that as African Americans gain more wealth, they generally move to affluent neighborhoods, but a new report has found this may not be the case.
Among African-Americans and Whites across the United States who earn $100,000 a year or more, 37 percent of Blacks live in poorer areas, while just 9 percent of Whites do.
In Milwaukee, the numbers are skewed even further than the national average. According to the New York Times, 59 percent of African-Americans making $100,000 or more live in poorer areas, compared to just 6 percent of Whites.
On NewsOne Now, John Eligon, one of the authors of the NY Times report, explains there are a number of key factors fueling this trend: “For generations, this country intentionally and purposely segregated people by race.
“What you have created is this dynamic where today a lot of these communities where White people grew up only around White people and Black people only grew up around Black people.”
Eligon said that when professional African-American families “make it” and move into White communities, they “feel a sense of otherness.”
In his research, Eligon talked to one Black family who lived in a predominantly White neighborhood and the father talked about being pulled over by police officers several times, not knowing their neighbors, and neighbors in the community bringing their children inside when the Black family was outside “just pushing his daughter around on a bicycle.
“One important thing to understand is that these housing policies that kept Blacks and Whites separate for so long, not only is it a social thing, but it’s also an economic thing.”
Eligon continued, “While you may have Black families to make high incomes nowadays, what Black families do not have access to over these generations was wealth – wealth that they could pass down through housing to their following generations.
“Without that generational wealth, it makes it hard to buy into some of these high-income affluent areas.”
Roland Martin asked if affluent Black families shun the idea of moving into privileged White neighborhoods “because they might feel uncomfortable” living in those communities or not feeling welcomed there.
“There is definitely this sense of discomfort when you grow up around people who you identify with, who you have these deep cultural connections with,” Eligon replied.
Martin looked at the broader picture of the study that exposes how neighborhoods in this day and age are still largely segregated among racial lines: “The reality is, housing is used in America to separate races. Folks want to act as if that’s not true, but that has been American history and it continues today.
“Is it as overt as before? No, but it still continues today.”
Watch Roland Martin, John Eligon, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the NY Times report on affluent Black families living in segregated, poor neighborhoods in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty