White Flight

White flight is a term that originated in the United States, starting in the mid-20th century, and applied to the large-scale migration of whites of various European ancestries from racially mixed urban regions to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions, originating from fear and anxiety about increasing minority populations. The term has more recently been applied to other migrations by whites, from older, inner suburbs to rural areas, as well as from the US Northeast and Midwest to the milder climate in Southeast and Southwest, but this is a change from its original cause and meaning.

The term has also been used for large scale post-colonial emigration of whites from Africa, driven by levels of violent crime and other reasons.

Following World War II, there was pent-up housing demand in the US, and widespread suburban development took place. In addition, some working-class and middle-class white families felt pressure from increases in minority populations and overcrowding in cities. They moved out to the suburbs, aided by GI loans for purchase, federally subsidized highway construction, and other facilities that made commuting to work easier.

In the 1970s, attempts to achieve effective desegregation by means of forced busing in some areas led to more families' moving out of former areas. Migration of middle-class white populations was observed during the 1950s and 1960s out of cities such as Detroit and Cleveland, although racial segregation of public schools had ended there long before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. More generally, some historians suggest that white flight occurred in response to population pressures, both from the large migration of blacks from the rural South to northern cities in the Great Migration and the waves of new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. However, some historians have challenged the phrase "white flight" as a misnomer whose use should be reconsidered. In her study of Chicago's West Side during the post-war era, historian Amanda Seligman argues that the phrase misleadingly suggests that whites immediately departed when blacks moved into the neighborhood, when in fact, many whites defended their space with violence, intimidation, or legal tactics.

The business practices of redlining, mortgage discrimination, and racially restrictive covenants contributed to the overcrowding and physical deterioration of areas where minorities chose to congregate. Such conditions are considered to have contributed to the out-migration of other populations. The limited facilities for banking and insurance, due to a perceived lack of profitability, and other social services, and extra fees meant to hedge against perceived profit issues increased their cost to residents in predominantly non-white suburbs and city neighborhoods. According to the environmental geographer Laura Pulido, the historical processes of suburbanization and urban decentralization contribute to contemporary environmental racism.

Read more about White Flight:  United States

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