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Seattle's Neighborhoods Have Experienced 'Segregation Within Integration'

A UW study shows how even Seattle's "diverse" neighborhoods are overly-segregated

KUOW recently featured details from a report by University of Washington sociology doctoral students Tim Thomas and Ryan Gabriel that put data behind the idea that Seattle's most diverse neighborhoods are actually fairly segregated.

As KUOW puts it, it's generally understood that "White Seattle" is to the north and west while "Black Seattle" and "Asian Seattle" are in the south side of the city. But as the study delved into some of those traditionally-diverse neighborhoods, namely Central District and Columbia City, they found that decades of integrated population growth has caused segregation within them.

Take Central District, which has a 2010 census breakdown of 47 percent white, 30 percent black, and 8 percent Asian. Yet there's a fairly distinct cut-off where the African-American population sticks to one side and the white population takes up most of the other.

Columbia City, which is much more evenly-split amongst the three demographics, shows a jarring cluster of African-Americans sectioned off into the southwestern corner of the neighborhood. The trendy South Seattle neighborhood's segregated patterns had Thomas wondering, "Are these people actually interacting with each other on a daily basis?"

Meanwhile up in Greenwood, there's a fascinating discovery that 50 percent of the African-Americans who live in a specific tract of land live within two blocks of one another. FYI, only six percent of the neighborhood are African-American.

Both of those blocks are home to Seattle Housing Authority projects, which Thomas explains can be viewed in two stark ways.

"Which is great, and it allows them to live in a city that has good social services, that has amenities and education and a better way of life and ability to have their children grow up," Thomas said. "But it still is a marker that a lot of the non-white population is struggling with a lot of poverty. And their opportunities are not necessarily equal compared to the other residents surrounding them."

As their paper notes, it's important to see these breakdowns for what they are as Seattle tries to maintain some semblance of diversity in the face of massive growth, expansion, and rising housing prices. It's one thing to be diverse, it's another thing for the city's inhabitants to coexist.

· Seattle's 'Diverse' Neighborhoods Are Surprisingly Segregated [KUOW] ·
· Segregation within Integration: Exploring Micro-Level Segregation in Seattle’s Integrated Tracts Using Spatial and Qualitative Analysis [Tim Thomas & Ryan Gabriel]