Progressives mourning NYC’s black exodus have only themselves to blame

New York’s black population has fallen 9% since 2000, with the exodus apparently accelerating after de Blasio’s disastrous eight years. Advocates and officials wonder why, but there’s nothing unique about it: Black Americans mostly want the same things that all Americans want.

The decline has been most pronounced among young black New Yorkers: the number of black children and teenagers in the city fell by one-fifth between 2010 and 2020. This means families are leaving – and many are heading south.

Partly, it’s the city’s insane housing market, which is brutal on growing families. All rent laws benefit the “haves”: people who don’t need to move. Hoping your kids can have their own room? The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment available in New York City is $4,859; in Atlanta, $2,450.

Education is another reason to leave: most public schools in minority neighborhoods are disasters. This is why there is a huge appetite for the public charter schools – but the (more ‘affluent’) teachers’ unions use their political power to prevent the charter sector from growing to meet demand. Our way or the highway, says the United Teachers’ Federation, and parents determined to do better for their children are hitting the road.

Crime, too, has an outsized effect on black New Yorkers. They represent 23% of the city’s population, but 67% of homicide victims. For rapes, it’s around 38%; criminal assault, about 46%. SO rising crime means an increase in black departures.

But it’s not just about the “de Blasio effect”. It also reflects the experience of each ethnic group that has always been a big part of the Big Apple: Irish, Italians and Jews have all moved widely; why would black people be any different?

Remember that New York’s black population (like other northern cities) was swelled by the Great Migration – people seeking prosperity in a booming city.

Now they are leaving. And it shows that black Americans, for all the ways their history might be unique, have real economic and social agency in the face of municipal policies that aren’t working for them.

As for black politicians who fear that “their” constituents are drifting away: your best hope is to work for what all New Yorkers want, a healthy housing market, good schools and reduced crime – and recognize that what you have done on these fronts is not working for your own people.


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