According to a study of the 2000 census by The Associated Press, Ann Arbor is the most integrated city in Michigan. But many University students say the numbers on paper may not reflect reality in this college town.
For its review, the AP looked at all the metropolitan areas listed by the census as having more than 100,000 people. Eight Michigan cities were included: Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Livonia, Sterling Heights and Warren.
The AP used an index of zero to 100 in which zero indicates perfect integration, and 100 indicates perfect segregation.
Ann Arbor”s segregation index was 45.9 for white-black, 45.6 for white-Asian and 35.8 for white-Hispanic. Each was lowest among the Michigan cities studied.
LSA sophomore Elizabeth Kluczynski cites Ann Arbor”s warm atmosphere as a major reason for the city”s diverse makeup.
“I work at Child Centers, and a lot of the faculty is very diverse. They do a good job of incorporating all the cultures. One of my teachers always tells us about the public schools her kids go to, and how whenever there”s an ethnic issue the parents get involved and fix the problem,” said Kluczynski, who is white.
LSA junior Aundrea Johnson, programming chair of the Black Student Union, is more skeptical about the findings. “The numbers probably reflect U of M and not necessarily Ann Arbor,” she said.
“From my own personal experience, I think the neighborhoods in Ann Arbor are very segregated, in terms of where people live and their level of interaction. If there”s no interaction how can you say there”s a lot of integration going on?”
LSA sophomore Ankur Narenda, an Indian student, said he acknowledges that while the University may appear integrated, it is still very much segregated.
“Black people hang out with black people, whites with whites. It”s not a segregation due to prejudice, but due to culture. People do branch out, but at the end of the day everyone still tends to go back to their cultural preference,” he said.
Segregation remains particularly acute in the older cities of the Northeast and the Midwest, said Kurt Metzger, a Wayne State University demographer. Stagnant manufacturing-based economies and inability to annex outlying areas can lock historic housing patterns in place.
Discrimination remains a problem as well, despite the nation”s progress on civil rights, he said.
“It”s still largely the case, particularly with blacks and whites, that we want to live with folks like us,” Metzger said.
Chicago had the highest white-black segregation ration nationally, at 87.9.
In Michigan, Flint is the most segregated city, with a score of 80.2, followed by Warren at 73.2 Detroit, 67.6 Grand Rapids, 65.8 and Lansing, 46.3. No figure was assigned to Livonia or Sterling Heights because their black populations were below 1.5 percent of the total, too small to be statistically meaningful.
Ann Arbor was also the state”s most integrated city a year ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.