Beyond Segregation: Multiracial and Multiethnic Neighborhoods in the United States

Beyond Segregation: Multiracial and Multiethnic Neighborhoods in the United States

Beyond Segregation: Multiracial and Multiethnic Neighborhoods in the United States

Beyond Segregation: Multiracial and Multiethnic Neighborhoods in the United States

Synopsis

At a time when cities appear to be fragmenting mosaics of ethnic enclaves, it is reassuring to know there are still stable multicultural neighborhoods. Beyond Segregation offers a tour of some of America's best known multiethnic neighborhoods: Uptown in Chicago, Jackson Heights (Queens), and San Antonio-Fruitvale in Oakland. Readers will learn the history of the neighborhoods and develop an understanding of the people that reside in them, the reasons they stay, and the work it takes to maintain each neighborhood as an affordable, integrated place to live. Author note: Michael T. Maly is Associate Professor of Sociology at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Excerpt

I CHOSE TO STUDY neighborhoods because they are the essential place to understand the local processes involved in the maintenance (or demise) of stable racial integration. While numerous studies on residential settlement focus on the impact of economic and demographic conditions and changes on how urban neighborhoods are formed, maintained, and reformulated along racial lines, they do not provide adequate information on microlevel actions that promote or discourage racial separateness. As Richard Taub, Garth Taylor, and Jan Dunham note in their book Paths of Neighborhood Change: “If ecological factors are overwhelming [to local residents], it is because of the effect of these facts on the perceptions and actions” of local residents (1984: 186). In other words, this statement has two related implications. First, integration and segregation are experienced by individuals in local communities. Second, while larger social forces (e.g., biased real estate and banking practices) influence local communities, individual action (or inaction) make these outcomes real.

Beyond Segregation is the story of the emergence, existence, and maintenance of three racially integrated communities. Using qualitative methods, I examine the vital role leaders and community groups play in neighborhood outcomes. Exploring the microlevel decisions by local leaders, as well as the conflict and negotiations of community groups working to stabilize racially changing neighborhoods, provides insight into the historical context of neighborhoods, the fluidity of neighborhood life, and the role of individual agency. By highlighting the broader lessons that can be learned and the limitations that become apparent as leaders and community groups intervene to stabilize racial change, I seek to advance our understanding of the complexity of racial integration in the increasingly multicultural world of the post-civil rights era and of the relationship between local decisions, collective action, and structural forces.

I set out to identify multiracial and multiethnic communities in New York, Chicago, and Oakland. While the cities differ in terms of region, population size, and political culture, they are all multiracial and . . .

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