I grew up in Florissant, Missouri and attended McCluer Senior High School in the Ferguson-Florissant Unified School District. Jonathan Rodden, a fellow graduate from McCluer High School and a professor of political science and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, wrote a column in the Washington Post titled “Is segregation the problem in Ferguson?”
What Professor Rodden found is that Ferguson is racially and economically integrated, more so than the surrounding communities.
Professor Rodden found that the racial divide and “lack of diversity” narrative is “wrong in several crucial respects.” “For starters, while St. Louis is indeed among the most segregated metropolitan regions in the United States, Ferguson and some of its North County neighbors are among the most racially integrated municipalities in Missouri and well beyond,” notes Professor Rodden.
So why are blacks rioting?
To illustrate his points Professor Rodden uses several maps. The first map below uses data from the 2010 Census to place Ferguson in the larger context of the racial segregation of St. Louis. While most of the region is completely segregated, note that Ferguson is part of a patch of integrated inner suburbs in North St. Louis County.
The second map zooms in on this region, shows Ferguson in fine detail. In the southeastern appendage of Ferguson, there is a dense, overwhelmingly black apartment complex where Michael Brown was killed. However, the rest of the city is, by the standards of American suburbia, striking in its level of racial integration. Ferguson and the proximate sections of Florissant and Hazelwood are composed of modest single-family houses on streets where blacks and whites live side by side.
Professor Rodden found, “While most of St. Louis County’s residents live in municipalities that are either homogeneous or internally segregated or both, Ferguson and its North County neighbors stand out for their relative heterogeneity and internal desegregation. Moreover, the income gap between blacks and whites is smaller in these municipalities than elsewhere… Lost in the tale of woe about Ferguson is that while the entry point was often cheap multi-family housing such as Canfield Green, many blacks came from North St. Louis City for single-family houses, better schools and lower crime. While there are pockets of poverty and Section 8 renters that dominate the media reports, there is also a resilient black middle class, though it has been hit hard by the great recession. While a large number of whites departed for homogeneous St. Charles County over the last 40 years, many have stayed.”
Ferguson rioters have no justification for their actions. Rather they should be embracing Ferguson as an example of racial and economic integration and balance.
Perhaps the rioters have a political bone to pick? Perhaps the rioters are rioting for the sake of drawing attention to themselves? If this is the case, and it appears so, then the media needs to call the demonstrations out for what they are – lawless.
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