What we can learn from California’s diverse cities. cities
Stockton, California – America’s big cities are becoming increasingly diverse – and of california Urban centers are on the rise.
The diversity of California’s cities reflects the state’s demographics, where large immigrant enclaves reside. more than 60 countries, and where no racial or ethnic group makes up the majority of the population. Yet California’s urban areas – which account for 94% of the state’s population and each have their own unique challenges – move toward “majority-minority” status in the rest of the country, with more people identifying as a majority. Huh.
“California is America, just too soon,” says Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology at the University of Southern California and director of the school’s program for environmental and regional equity and its Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.
California’s racial and ethnic diversity has historical roots, but the state saw significant demographic changes in the late 20th century. Roughly from 1980 to 2000, when California became a majority-minority, the state and its cities saw a rapid increase in its Hispanic and Asian populations, moderate African American growth and a slowly declining non-Hispanic white population. In 2006, Asia overtook Latin America as the top place of origin for new immigrants to the state, and in 2015, Latinos became the largest ethnic group in the state. Public Policy Institute of California.
California’s budding demographics have been so significant over the years, in fact, that many regions have reached peak diversity. Like anywhere else in the state, seven highly diverse California cities have seen little change in their racial and ethnic makeup in recent years. And Fresno, Long Beach and Los Angeles have all become marginally less diverse since 2010, a US News analysis shows.
“We are in a systematic phase of demographic change, so it is not surprising that we host cities that are the most diverse, and which are not changing in terms of diversity,” Pastor says. “We’ve already gone through this.”
While many of California’s cities are diverse, they are not always the most equitable. The state’s seven most diverse cities each struggle with their own challenges – housing, income and education gaps, for example – and racial and economic inequality weaves into those issues in complex ways.
Long Beach, which ranks fifth on the U.S. News Diversity Index, struggles with racial residential segregation and high poverty rates for Hispanic and black residents. coastal city, where approx. 35% residents belong to Mexican The original, is now being gentrified by an influx of newcomers, and “housing affordability is a major concern for low-income residents, especially women of color,” according to one 2019 Analysis From the National Equity Atlas, a California-based research group.
“Long Beach is a very different city, depending on where you are geographically — the city is very divided,” says Marlene Montaez, a community organizer with a group called LAN, which operates in Long Beach and Los Angeles. it happens.
Racial disparity is also evident in the poorer cities of inland California. Agriculture In Fresno, the ninth most diverse large city in the US, racial differences in education, homeownership, and poverty levels are higher on average than in other US cities, According to the analysis of an urban institute Measuring racial and economic inclusion.
Ashley Swerengin, president and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation and mayor of Fresno since 2009, says the city’s “flat and poor economy” affects low-income communities of color especially hard, which are “physical expressions of systemic racism.” A visual reminder of ” 2017.
Stockton, about 140 miles north of Fresno and the most diverse large city in the US, faces some of the same obstacles, including low educational and income levels, limited public resources, and no anchor institutions to serve as a local economic engine. Is.
“We don’t have 20 billionaires in a city like San Francisco, for example, or LA,” says Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.
racial segregation Stockton has declined over the past four decades – although inequalities have long remained, and the city faces new challenges. As rising housing costs To push more residents from Bay Area cities like Oakland and San Jose — which rank second and sixth on the U.S. News Diversity Index, respectively — many working-class families are moving inland to Stockton, and the city is the leader of long-time residents. scrambling to be sure. T displaced.
“In major urban centers [like San Francisco and Los Angeles]”The main difference between a coastal center and a place like Stockton or Fresno is that the resource base we begin with is so fundamentally different. That we almost have to consider that we are on a different planet.”
Bridging the coastal-inland divide was at the heart of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign, and Tubbs and Swierengin say they are pleased with their efforts in their first year of administration. but there are other attempts fell short of expectations So far, including his promise to increase the state’s affordable housing supply to 500,000 units annually.
It will take a combination of state and city-led efforts to ensure that all residents can thrive in California’s cities. And in some, governments and nonprofits are combining their efforts to drive change.
“Inclusion is highly dependent on policies,” says Urban Institute policy and equity researcher Solomon Green. “The local public sector plays a really important role in creating opportunities like this.”
For example, in Los Angeles and Long Beach, LAANE is pushing Anti-displacement measures to meet the state’s new 5% cap on year-on-year rent increases and to help low-income families stay in their homes. group too successfully advocated For the Legal Defense Fund, partly funded from the city, Paying for lawyers for immigrants facing illegal deportation in the country.
“People are really trying to be resilient and stay where they are, and stay in the community,” Montenez says.
And in Stockton, city leaders have prioritized affordable housing, economic development – including the privately funded universal basic income experiment that has attracted national attention – and as a way to strengthen historically disadvantaged communities. education reform.
“More often than not, the solutions are equity-rooted, because the city is majority-minority,” Tubbs says.
There is no “one policy silver bullet” for promoting equities, says Green. But as the face of American cities increasingly mirrors that of California, leaders elsewhere can draw their cues from the Golden State’s successes — and its failures.
“The things we’re doing and the conversations we’re having aren’t happening in a liberal bubble,” Tubbs says. “I think it really provides a roadmap for the country, but it’s also a reason to hope that things can get better.”
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