What led to the exodus of black families?

Many large cities in the Northeast have seen black families leave over time. Some of these places have black mayors who have tried to make their cities more affordable and increase home ownership for black families.

But there’s the bigger question of how much of the out-of-town movement is about pushing out black people — and something mayors can stop — as opposed to a broader pull the South exerts on some families.

So there is a comfort factor in the South?

It is true that over time many families who moved north in the original great migration felt disappointed by what they found; some felt like they brought their cultures, but didn’t feel a deeper sense of place in many New York neighborhoods. Some have now moved to Dallas, Charlotte and Atlanta, wanting to feel a connection with people who came before them, generations before them.

I don’t think that was the primary motivation for leaving for many of the families Nicole and I spoke to, but it was on their minds. But some said we just had other friends and a bigger support system elsewhere.

What does this mean for the school system in New York?

During the first two years of the pandemic, the city’s school district that lost the most students was a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn. There are a number of reasons for this, but looking at recent enrollment losses, parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and southeast Queens with higher black populations have often lost more students.

The concern of many Black families was that over time, if enrollment trends continued and Black students exited the system at higher rates, it would create disparities in the resources allocated to some schools, as the funding largely follows students in New York. The concern was that schools that were losing black students could see bigger cuts to their teaching staff, after-school programs and other offerings.

What about birth rates, which are also falling?

That’s the other big consideration here. Birth rates for black women have steadily declined in recent years. I think that plays into the efforts that can be made here. Of the people we interviewed, many spoke a lot about the need for more programs specifically for low-income and middle-class Black New Yorkers — programs that focus on home ownership and poverty reduction. racial wealth gap. For families with multiple children, being in a small one- or two-bedroom apartment no longer worked, but they said home ownership was out of reach here. Mayor Adams has been very focused on making this more accessible to New Yorkers of color, but some experts said efforts need to be more aggressive if we want to see more change.


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