Los Angeles Faces Black Exodus City's Black Leaders Worry about a Loss of Political Power and More Competition for Resources. MIDDLE-CLASS FLIGHT Series: 25 Years after Watts: Blacks in Los Angeles. Second of Two Articles
Scott Armstrong, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
ERIC GIVENS grew up on the southern edge of Los Angeles, attended the elementary school his grandfather did, and would have liked to stay in the area where his friends and family still live.
Instead he recently moved to Victorville, 90 minutes away in the high California desert.
"I can't afford to pay $3,000 a month on a new house," says the young construction worker. "The air is also a little cleaner, and it is not as crowded."
Mr. Givens is part of a growing exodus of blacks from Los Angeles that mirrors a nationwide trend.
Coming at a time when Asians and Hispanics are arriving in large numbers, the black "flight" presages dramatic shifts in the ethnic mix of the nation's second-largest city - with important political, economic, and social ramifications. `Enormous implications'
"It has enormous implications," says Dr. James Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), who has studied the outmigration of blacks. "We are talking about a total restructuring of the black community here."
The exodus from South Los Angeles, which holds the largest concentration of blacks in the western United States, is being driven by a variety of forces.
Some, like Mr. Givens, are fleeing to escape escalating housing prices. Others want to avoid the congestion, crime, and gang activity in the city. Some have been unable to find jobs. Many have climbed up the economic ladder and seek better neighborhoods elsewhere.
Forty percent of the blacks who left Los Angeles County over a five-year period went elsewhere in California, according to a recent study by Dr. Johnson and Curtis Roseman, a geography professor at the University of Southern California. Many of those are young middle-class families who moved to San Bernardino and Riverside counties, east of here, seeking cheaper homes and better schools. Black emigration
A high percentage, though, also moved out of state, mainly to Texas, Louisiana, and other parts of the South. This included a large number of blacks who returned to states where they were born.
Some, says Johnson, are single welfare mothers or elderly who could not make it here anymore or who did not want to and moved back with relatives.
Although the study was based on 1980 census data, the authors say the pattern of black migration has likely only accelerated in the past few years. Another study, this one by the US Census Bureau, recently showed that more blacks migrated out of California and Western states in the 1980s than migrated in. …