Thursday, April 13, 2006


Black Flight?

Having previously lived in Maryland and Washington, D.C., I was well acquainted with the stereotypical views on the various movement habits in the region: "Democrats (i.e. blacks) move to Maryland; Republicans (i.e. whites) move to Virginia.

Well, it seems like that stereotype isn't completely true.

Even more, well, it seems that black families make choices about where to relocate on similar
criteria as whites:

Other blacks said they moved from or skipped over Prince George's because of what they said were poor schools and surging crime.

The Moores said Prince George's was on the top of their list when they began house hunting because of its proximity to friends and family. But the more they learned about the school system, the lower Prince George's fell on their list. Under the No Child Left Behind law, Prince George's has 66 schools in need of improvement. Prince William has none.

Dorian Ford, a 38-year-old barber, grew up in Prince George's but now runs a shop in a plaza next to Princeton Woods, where he lives. He left Prince George's 12 years ago, he said, because of the increasing crime. The county had 173 murders last year, compared with 13 in Prince William. "You want to raise your children in a safe environment," Ford said.

Donald L. Frederick Jr., president-elect of the Prince George's County Association of Realtors, said the county has several excellent schools, but he did not dispute its challenges, even though he said it is one of the nation's premier majority minority communities.

"There's no question it gets its share of bad publicity," he said. "If I was someone from DeKalb County and read about Prince George's, I wouldn't want to come here, either."
Hmmm....and that's the incoming head of the PG County Association of Realtors!!

And, yes, this migration certainly has political ramifications:

The influx of blacks also is adding Democrats to Prince William, where Republicans hold a 6 to 2 edge on the county board and generally side with the GOP in national, state and local elections.

In the fall, Democrat Timothy M. Kaine edged Republican Jerry Kilgore in Prince William with nearly 50 percent of the vote. The River Oaks precinct, created in 2002 to serve the new subdivisions, gave Kaine 69 percent of its votes, more than any precinct in the county.

In the 2004 presidential election, River Oaks voters also gave the highest percentage of votes -- again 69 percent -- to losing Democratic candidate Sen. John F. Kerry. President Bush carried Prince William with 53 percent of the vote.

But Prince William's black newcomers did not move there to make a political
statement. They say they are more interested in the day-to-day issues of suburban life, particularly good schools and safe neighborhoods.
In other words -- just like everybody else. Of course, this does have the interesting side effect of making red-state Virginia a bit more "purple," which could have some interesting effects in future elections, if this sort of migration continues.

Something to watch.

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