Black Americans are losing political clout. The loss of voting power is not from White peoples’ skullduggery, but due to our own movement choices. 2010 Census data show that 20 of the 25 cities that have at least 250,000 people and a 20 percent Black population lost political clout. These declines happened in traditional Black strongholds such as: Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland and Washington, D.C. Black-American political and population losses were fueled by middle-and-upper-class Blacks leaving cities for the suburbs and large percentages of Blacks leaving northern cities for thriving centers in the South.
The Census Bureau says the nation’s population is 308,745,538, up from 281.4 million. The 9.7 percent growth rate was the lowest since the Great Depression. Michigan was the only state to lose population; and Nevada, with a 35 percent increase, was the fastest-growing. Whether upwardly mobile Blacks know it, or not, the new numbers are a boon for Republicans, with Texas and Florida leading the way among GOP-leaning states that will gain House seats, mostly at the Rust Belt’s expense.
There are over 37 million Black Americans. Down from 14.8 percent of the population in 2000, we are 12.3 percent in 2010. Fifty-two percent of Black Americans are female and 48 percent are male. African Americans are the nation’s second-largest minority group. Political clout has left the five counties that had the largest Black populations in 2000 — Cook in Illinois, Los Angeles, Wayne in Michigan, Kings in New York and Philadelphia — all lost Black population. Among the 25 counties with the biggest increase in Black population, three-quarters are in the South.
More than half of Black Americans live in the South. New York had the largest Black population of any state as of July 1, 2008 (3.5 million); Georgia had the largest numeric increase since July 1, 2007 (67,000). The District of Columbia had the highest percentage of Blacks (56 percent), followed by Mississippi (38 percent). Cook County, Ill. (Chicago’s county) had the largest Black population of any county (1.4 million), and Orleans Parish, La. (New Orleans’ county) had the largest numeric increase since July 1, 2007 (16,000). Claiborne County, Miss. had the highest percentage of Blacks in the nation (84 percent).
Places where Blacks had gained “political stronghold” status are losing Black people. Detroit lost almost 200,000 Blacks. Detroit’s 25 percent population drop represents the fastest collapse in American history of any major city not decimated by a natural disaster. Blacks’ percentage of Atlanta’s population shrank from 61 percent to 53 percent. But in Atlanta’s vast metropolitan area, the Black population soared to the second-largest Black population after New York. Chicago lost more than 180,000 African American residents. The Black population fell 3.5 percent to 1.6 million. Washington, D..C’s lost its Black majority.
In their quest to “keep us with the Joneses” Blacks are hurting their ballot power. The number of Black suburbanites climbed to 58 percent in the South, compared to 41 percent for the rest of the U.S. That’s up from 52 percent in 2000 and represents the highest share of suburban Blacks in the South since the Civil Rights Act passed in the 1960s. Suburbs anywhere are a huge draw. Typically, today’s middle-class African-American families are making the same kind of choices as White families: As soon as their kids are school-age, they move to the suburbs. Suburbs are also luring lower-income Blacks who are leaving neighborhoods that don’t have supermarkets and other retail.
The South is the second most racially and ethnically diverse U.S. region after the West. Roughly 61 percent of its population is White, 19 percent Black and 15 percent Hispanic. That’s compared with a national breakdown of 65 percent White, roughly 12 percent Black and 16 percent Hispanic.
Blacks are leaving Blue State America for Red State America, ironically, because in their “I can go anywhere I want” mindsets, they are showing a preference for living in the kind of states dominated by Republicans. Because of Blacks’ movements, Republican-leaning states will gain at least a half-dozen House seats.
William Reed is available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org