Commentary: Even a Wealthy D.C. Suburb Is Getting More Segregated

A new report suggests that the well-to-do Prince George’s County is seeing major white flight from an affluent and thriving Black community.

Posted: 10/31/2011 05:55 PM EDT

The reputation of the greater Washington, D.C., area has long been one of security for African-Americans. For generations now, D.C. and its outlying areas were considered a safe haven for Blacks of all kinds, and Black families flocked there from around the country to enjoy the comforts of a major city that also actively engaged with the African-American community, and considered it an asset. But lately things have been on the decline. Back in July, D.C. officially lost its Black majority, making the Chocolate City no longer chocolate. And now, Prince George’s County, Maryland, an area just outside of the nation’s capital, is becoming more segregated than ever.

In a special report by the Washington Post, numbers reveal that the relatively affluent Prince George is seeing a big influx of African-Americans and a mass exodus of whites. A lot of Latinos are moving into Prince George, but they segregate themselves into their own mini-enclaves. The result is an ever-Blackening county.

“[T]he arrival of affluent and accomplished Blacks — not only from the District and surrounding counties but from throughout the nation — has transformed vast swaths of the county,” says the Post. “More than a third of the county’s African-American residents live in neighborhoods that are more than 85 percent Black. From Bowie to Brandywine, three-quarters of the neighborhoods where household incomes surpass $100,000 are majority African-American.”

But while Blacks are moving into Prince George to be around other upwardly mobile Blacks, whites are leaving in droves. The simple fact of the matter is, as a white man living in Bowie, Maryland, put it rather matter-of-factly to the Post reporter: “A lot of white people don’t want to live around Black people. It’s crazy, I know.”

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this story isn’t simply that some whites are apparently terrified of living around Black people. It’s that some whites are terrified of living around Black people even when those Black people are wealthy, educated and employed. If whites fleeing Prince George’s County are unwilling to live around that county’s Blacks, some of whom are millionaires, what sorts of Blacks do they find tolerable? The answer seems to be none.

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