Sociology

A look at how Suburbanization Led to Racial Segregation and Class Divisiveness



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Suburbs have led to a new form of racial segregation and class divisiveness. When people first started moving to suburbs they were clearly looking for better living standards. And most of these people moved out of cities. Moving to cities had been the standard practice for humans for thousands of years and mighty civilizations established as a result.

So what led people to move out of cities and live in newly found suburbs?

In order to answer this question, one has to look at the people who first moved into suburbs. These people were the wealthy middle class and in states, these were also the whites. This is what made people later call as the ‘white flight’ where rich whites moved out of the cities leaving the crowded cities to the poor African Americans.

Throughout the history of mankind, cities were mainly occupied by two social classes. Those were the rich and the poor. The rich and mighty were the kings and the noblemen who ruled the lands from the safety of the castles. The poor in the cities were the poorest in the land that they had nothing to call their own. They had no land to farm and in order to feed themselves, they moved into the cities to find whatever form of living they could find.

Farmers were somewhere in between these two classes that they had land of their own. But since the industrialization in the 18th century, farmers began to abandon their farms and move into cities. This led to a boost in the number of poor people in cities. The living standards were very bad for these innocent people but still they had no other choice.

Industrialization had had its own ways of treating the poor. While it mainly deprived the poor and enriched the already rich person, it also kept a narrow gap for the hardworking poor to climb up the social ladder. Soon, in modern cities, a new class of people was emerging and this was named the middle class.

The middle class had only one thing in their mind. That was to become rich and to have a quality life. They needed quality education, health facilities, transportation and above all a decent house to live in. as the cities get packed with poor people and factories to employ them, there were no places left for the middle class for the expansion they needed.

By the 1940’s with the World War coming to an end, middle class was demanding for space to expand. At the same time a new device was introduced to the society. That was automobiles. In no time, everybody from the middle class dreamt of having their own automobile. Automobiles also brought mobility to the society. Now the people were able to live away from the cities and drive to the cities in order to fulfill their daily needs.

Automobiles led the people out of the cities and into suburbs. There were enough places for new houses with enough gardening space. New and improved schools and hospitals were built and the middle class whites found their own communities away from the poor in the cities. This ultimately meant living away from African Americans since most of the poor was African Americans.

Almost to the beginning of the 21st century, suburbs were dominated by middle class white people. The children grew up in these communities had little exposure to African American children and therefore they became more segregated in nature. On the other hand, African American children were cornered to poor education facilities in the poor districts of cities, where they were exposed to drugs, crime and violence on daily basis.

Nowadays there is some tendency for an upcoming middle class among the African Americans. But still there are vast divisions among the races. Making matters worse, now it is no longer a simple division of blacks and whites. There is a new minority of Asians and other nationalities who are trapped in the poor living conditions of cities and struggling to move in to better life standards of the suburbs.

With racial segregations on the descending side, the division of classes is getting worse day by day. Poor people are getting poorer, while the rich people are getting richer. The poor has little hope of moving to suburbs and leaving their homes in the poor districts of the big cities. On the other hand, middle class is trying in every possible manner to distant themselves from the poor and make themselves closer to the rich.

The suburbs had been a milestone in the social evolution of the human civilization. But it had mostly been one sided and the poor had faced with increased sufferings due to the establishment of these new suburbs. The development has been mainly focused on these areas and vast amounts of people in the cities have faced with unhealthy living conditions.

The future looks even more grime for the poor in the big cities and the class divisiveness is getting worse day by day.

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More about this author: Sharmal Kelambi

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