A Racial U-Turn

Photo: Jane Quigley's Flickr

“For the first time since the seventies, a majority of Manhattan’s population is non-Hispanic white,” the New York Times recently declared, analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau. No surprise, that: Gentrification has reversed “white flight,” Manhattan has seen a baby boom among its mostly Caucasian upper class, and black migration out of the city to the South has been matched by a decline in Afro-Caribbean immigration. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau can’t seem to decide if Spanish-speaking immigrants and their descendants count as white, Latino, or both—but for what it’s worth, the “Latino” population has boomed outside Manhattan, especially in the Bronx, where self-described Latinos now make up 51.9 percent of the populace.

Black Flight
“I just see the U-Haul trucks, and people coming up to me and kissing good-bye. They just indicate to me that their dollar can go farther in the South.”
—City Council member Letitia James in 2007, on the African-American exodus from New York

Net loss of blacks in the five boroughs from 2000, when the city’s African-American population began declining, to 2006.

• The 2000 Census explicitly stated for the first time that “people who identify their origin as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race”—including white.

Growth in Manhattan population of “non-Hispanic white children” under 5, 2000–2005.

Expanding Who Is “White”
“One hundred years ago, Jews and the Irish were not considered white! I think it’s only a matter of time before we redefine groups so that the Hispanic population is incorporated into the white population.”
—NYU Professor Mitchell Moss

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.

A Racial U-Turn