Chicago is America's most segragated city

According to this article in the Chicago Tribune

Chicago, America’s most segregated big city

Racial lines were drawn over the city’s history and remain entrenched by people’s choice, economics

By Azam Ahmed and Darnell Little
Tribune reporters

Tribune photos by Chris Walker

The paths taken by Colin Lampark and Rosalyn Bates help illustrate why Chicago is the most racially segregated big city in America.

Both are young professionals with handsome earning potential. Both moved to the city a few years ago-Lampark, 28, to Lincoln Park; Bates, 31, to Bronzeville. And both chose neighborhoods reflecting their race, a practice common in Chicago.

Their personal stories, and many others, explain why blacks in Chicago are the most isolated racial group in the nation’s 20 largest cities, according to a Tribune analysis of 2008 population estimates. To truly integrate Chicago, 84 percent of the black or white population would need to change neighborhoods, the data show.

The calculations paint a starkly different picture from the ones broadcast across the nation during Barack Obama’s Election Night rally last month, when his hometown looked like one unified, harmonious city.

The fact is, racial patterns that took root in the 1800s are not easy to reverse. Racial steering, discriminatory business practices and prejudice spawned segregation in Chicago, and now personal preferences and economics fuel it.

“Once institutions exist, they tend to persist, and it requires some act of force to get them to change,” said Douglas Massey of Princeton University, an expert on segregation.

For Lampark, who is white, the move last year to Lincoln Park from Minneapolis came because he had friends there. It wasn’t a racially motivated decision, he said. Lampark, an engineer, just doesn’t know anyone on the South Side.

Bates, who is black, settled in Bronzeville for similar reasons.

“It put us closer to friends,” she said.

She, however, may pay more dearly for her decision. Segregated African-American neighborhoods have less access to health care, quality education and employment opportunities than white areas, the research shows. Black homeowners can expect to receive 18 percent less value for their homes, according to one study-a tax the researcher attributed primarily to segregation.

James Hamilton, 50, a deckhand from Woodlawn, can live with that. In his experience, which includes 30 years on the South Side, he doesn’t think that whites would welcome him to their neighborhood.

“It ain’t never been us,” he said. “It’s always been [whites]-just don’t want to be around us.”

To read the rest of the story go to the Chicago Tribune website.