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Reynolds Farley photo

Chocolate City, Vanilla Suburbs: Will the Trend toward Racially Separate Communities Continue?

Publication Abstract

Farley, Reynolds, Howard Schuman, S. Bianchi, Diane Colasanto, and S. Hatchett. 1978. "Chocolate City, Vanilla Suburbs: Will the Trend toward Racially Separate Communities Continue?" Social Science Research, 7(4): 319-44.

Almost a decade ago, the Kerner Commission warned that this country was moving toward two societies—one white and one black. Data on residential segregation indicate clear- cut boundaries for these two societies—large cities are becoming black but most suburban areas remain white. Detroit is a case in point and this led the 1976 Detroit Area Study to investigate the sources of racial residential segregation. Our approach was guided by three hypothesized causes of this segregation: (i) the economic status of blacks, (ii) the preference of blacks to be with their own kind, and (iii) the resistance of whites to residential integration. We developed several new measurement techniques and found that most evidence supported the third hypothesis. Blacks in the Detroit area can afford suburban housing and both blacks and whites are quite knowledgable about the housing market. Most black respondents expressed a preference for mixed neighborhoods and are willing to enter such areas. Whites, on the other hand, are reluctant to remain in neighborhoods where blacks are moving in and will not buy homes in already integrated areas. This last result has been overlooked by traditional measures of white attitudes toward residential integration but emerges clearly with the new measure.

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