As demographic data from the 2010 census starts to come in, it will show a startling trend – cities that have long been the African American capitals of the US are undergoing drastic change. On the south side of Chicago, in New York’s Harlem, across New Orleans and in Washington DC, the black population is in rapid decline.
The numbers are particularly startling in Washington, DC – a city that was once so thoroughly black it gained the name “Chocolate City”. In 1970, blacks made up over 70 per cent of the district’s population. Things have changed. In this decade, over 27,000 blacks left the city, and around 40,000 whites moved in. Today, African Americans represent less than 54 per cent of the population and demographers predict they will be a minority in the next five to 10 years.
The most common explanation for the displacement is gentrification, and the rising cost of living that comes with the new, generally white, population.
“There’s evidence everywhere you go in DC that DC is becoming richer and whiter,” says Sabiyha Prince, an anthropology professor at American University.
Even as a black family occupies the most important residence in DC for the first time in history, “Chocolate City” is having an identity crisis.
Al Jazeera goes to the neighbourhoods of the nation’s capital where long time black Washingtonians question their future in a city with centuries of rich African American past.
There goes the neighbourhood airs from Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 0600, 1930; Wednesday: 1430; Thursday: 0030; Friday: 0830; Saturday: 2330.
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