A Lot of Places Resemble Ferguson, Statistically

The demographic shift undergone by the troubled St. Louis suburb is mirrored in communities across the eastern half of the country.

Comments: 14

  1. One of the concerns raised in Ferguson was the disproportionate number of white officers to black officers.

    One of the biggest reasons for this is not racism but police contracts. With a quickly shifting racial demographic, the preexisting contracted officers can not be (nor should they be) replaced fast enough to meet this change. Nor can the cities hire more officers than what is already budgeted for in the upcoming years.

    It is a quandary that needs time to catch up, that said, there still can be additional training to overcome that community/cultural difference.

  2. Mr. Flippen - you might get a C- for this in journalism school. Get to root cause, please. These are all small town democracies. What are the comparative rates of majority voter participation? If low, what are the top 3 obstacles to voter participation? What is the resulting comparative composition of the local governing councils?

    In Ferguson, majority black voter participation has been no higher that 7%. Minority white voter participation has been 2-3X higher. So the minority white population votes in a minority white town council, which in turn appoints and hires a minority white police force.

  3. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles is black, and one of the four Ferguson city council members is black. The median age of Ferguson's black residents is 28 while the median age of its white residents is 48. Older people turn out to vote in greater numbers than younger people. A significant percent of Ferguson's black residents are too young to vote. As the article points out, Ferguson was 73 percent in 1990. The city was still most with when most of its police officers were hired. The police chief told reporters sveral black officers have left the police force in recent years to take higher paying jobs in big-city police forces. Black police officers are in high demand by big city police forces that are trying to diversify. This makes it difficult for small cities to recruit and retain blackpolice officers.

  4. Racism is the "gift" that keeps on giving. Scan this data and thoughtful people should be encouraged. Black families are escaping the ghettos, the projects. They are beginning to live the middle class lifestyle that white Americans consider a birthright. But, whites are abandoning the suburbs created in the original "white flight." Stated bluntly many white people continue to enforce segregation not by law but by action and superior economic power. This allows them to leave even if they have to drive further and spend more.

    The question is, "Why won't whites live with blacks?" I've heard the excuses: property values, violence, school decline, etc. This leaves only two possible answers: (1) Black people inherently are more violent, don't care for community, etc., or (2) The conflict of whites resisting the influx of blacks produces much of this negative effect.

    Obviously it's not this simple but it's clear that white America continues to segregate itself and makes no real effort to bridge the 300+ year chasm built via slavery and generations of oppressive behavior. Does black culture hold part of the problem/solution? Absolutely. Escaping from the ghetto also means leaving the ghetto of the mind. There is systemic racism in America. Yet individuals (of all flavors) can overcome barriers. For the black, the Indian, the poor this is a major hurdle. Finding ways to facilitate the escape should be a key focus of a culture that believes in justice and freedom. Sadly it isn't.

  5. Your candor is refreshing.

  6. I will tell you why: black families moving into a neighborhood seem to NEVER improve it. They always go downhill after that. By the way- I grew up around blacks and am no racist- I do not feel any inherent differences between whites and blacks. I asked in another comment (whether it is published or not beats me!) if any city has ever seen an IMPROVEMENT after blacks make up the majority. Why that very question raises hackles is baffling- I really would like to know. So would everyone else, frankly.

  7. One other demographic trend is also apparent in Missouri and many other so-called Rust Belt states: a rapid rise in poverty among whites, especially those with a high school education or less.

    This didn't necessarily play a role in Michael Brown's shooting, but it plays a significant role in the reaction to it, which in St. Louis has included demonstrations in support of the officer who shot him and the expression of more than a little blunt racism.

    The dynamic on display in Ferguson includes not just mistrust of the police among African Americans, but also the white reaction when that mistrust boils over. Here as in many other parts of the country, significant numbers of whites view race as an element that has been "injected" into the debate by the media and "outside forces" (which sounds an awful lot like the "outside agitators" who were scapegoated throughout the South for the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s).

  8. Unknown on the Pacific coast? A quick web search finds dozens of articles talking about how San Francisco, East Palo Alto, and even Oakland have been losing black residents for years. Many are moving to distant suburbs and exurbs of the Bay Area (Antioch, Stockton, even Sacramento and it's suburbs) or even out of the state. The numbers are lower - the jumps less dramatic - so understandably they don't make your list of 117. But a little research here, please...um, aren't you the New York Times?

  9. Didn't hurt to have first Cisco and then Ikea move to E. PA. That might have been part of the reason. Think there are neighborhoods in San Francisco that have lost black population as well. Probably SFO also lost Latinos.

    However this story is about other places where the more likely movement into cities and away from agriculture by blacks, southern blacks, largely. I doubt there is a comparable western community that has gained large numbers of African Americans. It doesn't show up in the stats cited at least.

  10. I just returned from St. Louis to NY. Lingered a bit in St. Louis after dropping my son off at Wash. University. There is another side of race relationships not captured in these statistics. I did see a lot mixed race couples. I saw a lot of mixed race groupings in restaurants and in public among kids and older people. Despite the obvious polarization I saw in these communities I wonder if the researchers have other devices / measures to capture some of these other forms of interaction --- a bit of a look underneath the covers of this census data. It's really bad that a policeman shot a kid. but I think it's really good that a mixed race girls high school soccer team burst into a restaurant I was in and acted as if they had known one another their entire lives.

  11. The little matter of crime statistics would have been more helpful even more so than economics given the wide gap between a black majority and law enforcement.

  12. The most important part of the analysis was left out. What percentage of these communities are run by majority white councils and majority white police units?

  13. The reality of America of the past generation is that of economic dissolution.

    They took a country that had a trade surplus, a small deficit, a stable middle class, financially stable, a reputation for fairness and a nation that grew up under the auspices of audacious engineering and scientific accomplishment to one that has a huge national debt, a declining middle class, rising poverty, financially unstable, politically dysfunctional, ignorance is lauded, a reputation for ignorance and hubris and a nation where ignorance is lauded and injustice is becoming the norm.

    In that environment, whites blaming other races for the poor political and policy decisions they have made in the past 30 years is the feather in the cap. If you want to know why your country and neighborhood is going downhill: look in the mirror.

  14. Can anyone point out one city or locale in the US that has experienced a better quality of life and less crime that has turned from mostly white to mostly black citizens? I am asking a real question here.

    Is poverty the reason for the high crime? Then what is Appalachia's excuse?