A new book written by Eugene Robinson details the splintering of African-American communities and neighborhoods. His new book is called Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America. Robinson grew up in a segregated world in Orangeburg, S.C., which had a black side of town and a white side of town. It also had a black high school and a white high school; and "two separate and unequal school systems."
But as segregation faded, pockets of inequality grew even stronger. The story explains:
"People who had the means and had the education started moving out of what had been the historic black neighborhoods," Robinson explains.
He cites Washington, D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood as a prime example of this because of how Shaw was home to a vibrant black community and a thriving entertainment scene in the 1930s through the 1950s. By the '70s, Shaw had become a desolate, drug-ridden area.
"In city after city, African-American neighborhoods, that …once had been vibrant and in a sense whole — disintegrated," Robinson says.
He attributes that change to African-Americans taking advantage of new opportunities, resulting in a more economically segregated community.
"There have always been class distinctions in the black community," Robinson says, "but what I believe we've seen is an increasing distance between two large groups, which I identify as the Mainstream and the Abandoned."
Robinson says that while a "fairly slim majority" of African-Americans entered the middle class, a large portion of the community never climbed the ladder. It's getting harder and harder to catch up, he says, "because so many rungs of that ladder are now missing."
So as formerly segregated neighborhoods begin to gentrify; rents increase and longtime residents get pushed out.
"What happens to this group that I call the Abandoned is that they get shoved around — increasingly out into the inner suburbs — and end up almost out of sight, out of mind," Robinson says.
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