Yet there are still instances where my past views remain in the fore. This, in an era where the racial mixing has become normal and interracial dating has skyrocketed to an all time high. Unfortunately, the past has put a dent in my ability to just see people as people and not races.
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The area in which I was born was Brooklyn, specifically Coney Island. The location of Coney Island at that time was purely black and Puerto Rican. There was also a gated community called Sea Gate and Brighton Beach; both were inhabited by white people as a majority.
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At one point, Coney Island was also a haven for whites, however, when NYCHA projects were built and the blacks and Puerto Ricans started to move there—whites began their exodus to the suburbs. Funny thing, to think back to that time, Brighton was inhabited by Russians, but to the young mind, they were white also. However, the reality of the situation was they were immigrants and not considered white. In my Coney Island, there were no white children or adults to speak with. There were no outlets to learn about or understand their cultures and ways of life. Not knowing and not mingling with whites made them seem alien; with everyone one of them having a good life and not having hardships and poverty.
There was one family that lived in the building we resided, a mother and her daughter. They were older, and the mother was very gruff but the daughter was very nice and friendly. As a child, the mother seemed mean, but as an adult I can only surmise that the real reason behind her anger was most likely due to the influx of blacks and Latinos moving in. Obviously, they were the left behinds that could not afford to run and move away like all the others like them did. Racism was not spoken about during the elementary years, there was no one around to show and express the ills of the divide.
We played as children with the other children that were just like us, black or Latino. No one had much money. Of course some had more than others, but it was like everyone was one even ground. We just played and enjoyed our innocence, not realizing the difference between not having any whites around because of… Throughout my elementary school experience there were no black teachers that resided in our neighborhood.
I was happy to be acknowledged and to be told I was cute. Onward to junior high school was when the separation and the dislike between the races became open, apparent and real. As Coney Island had only one J. The schoolyard could have had a line dividing the races, that was how serious the non-mixing was at that time. They were not happy about us going to their schools. It was hell if a person missed the school bus.
The train station, which was the means of transportation when you missed the bus, was three long blocks away. Many boys were jumped if they were caught by the white boys on their way to the subway, some girls were targeted too. Some of the educators were just as racist as the students which made learning, and even trying to get along with the opposite race even harder.
To examine these patterns, The New York Times identified every census tract in the country that has grown notably more racially diverse since We then used millions of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records to track the differences when white and nonwhite home buyers bring change to a neighborhood. Renters can also alter the fabric of a community, but homeowners bring the economic might.
In South Park, a neighborhood with picturesque views of the Raleigh skyline, the white home buyers who have recently moved in have average incomes more than three times that of the typical household already here. Whites, who were largely absent in the neighborhood in , made up 17 percent of the population by This map shows comparable data for every census tract in the country — about one in three of them nationwide — that has grown more diverse since In neighborhoods like South Park, white residents are changing not only the racial mix of the community; they are also altering the economics of the real estate beneath everyone.
Baker, who grew up in southeast Raleigh and now directs a nonprofit, Southeast Raleigh Promise, that serves the community. Some of that change can be positive, she said. White flight and white return are not opposite phenomena in American cities, generations apart. Here they are part of the same story. In the places where white households are moving, reinvestment is possible mainly because of the disinvestment that came before it. Many of these neighborhoods were once segregated by law and redlined by banks. Cities neglected their infrastructure.
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The federal government built highways that isolated them and housing projects that were concentrated in them. Then banks came peddling predatory loans. And while that briefly remains true in South Park, the disinvestment and reinvestment are visible side by side on any given street. South Park grew up around Shaw University , a historically black college founded in , and in the early 20th century it was home to black professors and doctors trained there, and to dozens of black-owned businesses.
With time, the disinvestment happened here, too: Two major roads severed the neighborhood; absentee landlords came in; a cherished park built in the s began to deteriorate. Her sense of value, however, is different from — and often at odds with — the rising value of real estate. Her own home is appreciating, but that means little to her because she has no intention of selling. As is! No cost or fees! She runs a child development center on the edge of downtown.
African-Americans have remained so segregated in American cities in large part because white people have avoided living in black neighborhoods, and seldom even considered buying a home in one. What changed, then? How did the first developer to renovate a home know a new market would be waiting for it? Queen, who had worked in historic preservation, has rehabilitated or built about homes in the historic corridor just east of downtown Raleigh, starting with a house that he and his wife lived in and renovated on the edge of South Park a decade ago.
Queen was his own market: He rejected long car commutes and cul-de-sacs. This part of the city was more affordable than anywhere else near downtown.
And he wanted diversity. Queen, who is white.
But cities across the country have changed as much as preferences like Mr. Crime plummeted in the years preceding all this redevelopment. Public housing projects were demolished for mixed-income housing. Cities reinvested in neglected downtowns. The run-up in home prices in the early s also left middle-class households searching for affordable housing. By then, many working-class white neighborhoods in good locations had already gentrified. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods were what remained. The old housing stock close to the center of many cities was also approaching the end of its life.
Older homes are more likely to be replaced. And in the American housing market, newly built or renovated housing invariably goes to higher-income households. South Park was primed in all these ways to become much wealthier: Many houses had lost nearly all their value, as the land underneath them grew more valuable.
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Then in the aftermath of the housing bust, mortgage lending tightened, particularly for African-Americans and Hispanics. White buyers got a head start in places like South Park just as they were becoming newly desirable. By the time more lending returned for minorities, these neighborhoods were increasingly priced out of reach. The people who have bought Mr. Andrew and Kelly Hudgins, a white couple, purchased one of those homes in in South Park.
They looked at a racial dot map of Raleigh when they first moved to the area. Hudgins, 29, who works for two faith-based nonprofits. Hudgins said. And perhaps that other couple would value more what South Park could become than what it is now, or what it has been historically. Their home was also built on a long-vacant lot, so they felt no one had been pushed out to make way for them. He wants to show them what the church has built, and invite them to use the gym. But the joggers tend to have earphones in and to look away. So far, he has been unsuccessful attracting any of them inside.
Here, integration is not going very well. I wish that could stay.
Eight blocks away, Mr. Queen recently opened his largest project yet, a food hall that will eventually have a full-service grocery store next door. This, too, faces uncertain prospects.
The development was designed to make viable the grocery store the community wanted, Mr. Queen said. But some residents are waiting to see the prices.