Desegregation Killed Black Neighborhoods

Please don't take the title to mean that I think that desegregation was a bad idea. As a liberal, I think segregation is wrong. There are people who can't see the drawbacks to policies they indorse, but I'm not one of them.

Before desegregation, blacks, whether wealthy or poor, had no choice but to live in black neighborhoods. Blacks also generally patronized black businesses, guaranteeing the businesses clientele. While black neighborhoods weren't rich, they included professionals and successful business owners, who served as role models and as an economic foundation for the community.

After legal racial segregation ended, it was wealth more than color that got one stuck in the inner city. Economic segregation replaced racial segregation. Wealthy, professional blacks could buy their way into previously white neighborhoods. Black businesses faltered as black customers took to patronizing whatever businesses they wanted. Black business owners no longer had a captive audience, and black professionals left the inner city.

Undercut a community's businesses and lure away the successful members of the community, and you get what you see in today's inner cities: poverty, crime,bad schools, and welfare.

It's a bitter irony that open housing legislation led to worse conditions for the blacks who were too poor to take advantage of it.

July 2001, November 2002