The first part of this book presents a fresh and encouraging report on the state of racial integration in America’s neighborhoods. It shows that while the majority are indeed racially segregated, a substantial and growing number are integrated, and remain so for years.
Still, many integrated neighborhoods do unravel quickly, and the second part of the book explores the root causes. Instead of panic and “white flight” causing the rapid breakdown of racially integrated neighborhoods, the author argues, contemporary racial change is driven primarily by the decision of white households not to move into integrated neighborhoods when they are moving for reasons unrelated to race. Such “white avoidance” is largely based on the assumptions that integrated neighborhoods quickly become all black and that the quality of life in them declines as a result.
The author concludes that while this explanation may be less troubling than the more common focus on racial hatred and white flight, there is still a good case for modest government intervention to promote the stability of racially integrated neighborhoods. The final chapter offers some guidelines for policymakers to follow in crafting effective policies.