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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On The Other Hand

Having said all that, there is one area where I think that the situation in Britain (or at least in London) is better than America in terms of inter-communal relations. And that is in black/white relations.

We've been having a pretty interesting discussion at Dissensus on this topic, but I felt like writing a bit about it here.

One thing you notice when you go between London and New York is the disparity in the prevalence of black/white couples. In today's New York you certainly see far more mixed black-white couples than you ever saw when I was little, yet it is still far less common than in London, especially white male/black female couples, which are so common as to be banal in London, yet are still a relatively rare sight in New York. Having said that, I'm sure you see more black/white couples in New York, in other big north-eastern cities, on the West Coast, and around Atlanta than in the country at large. For instance, I've never seen a b/w couple in Savannah, Georgia, where my mother is from, and that city is split pretty much evenly between the two groups.

Indeed, the divide between 'black' and 'white' America is the clearest ethnic border-line in the United States, and to Americans it has lasted for so long and it is so entrenched that the self-segregation that is so widespread seems like a natural state of affairs. Indeed, African-Americans are still, by some margin, the most endogamous of American racial/ethnic minorities. The contrast with the situation in Britain is quite remarkable. Additionally, residential segregation is much more pronounced in America than it is in Britain.

It's worth going to that Dissensus link and reading Scott Somedisco's excellent insights on Chicago.

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