Census data shows communities in the region are diversifying

The city of Dayton has seen its white and black populations drop, while its Asian populations have increased, as has the number of people identifying themselves as “other race” or “two or more races.”

The city is no longer predominantly white.

Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw said the city had lost only about 3,800 people since 2010 was a “huge change” from the previous five censuses, where more than 10,000 people were lost every decade.

“While there has been a decline in the number of people who identify as Black or White, there has been a huge increase in the number of people who identify as Asian, multiracial or otherwise,” Shaw said.

He said he was “quite excited” by the census information and encouraged by the diversity it shows.

Part of the demographic shift is due to the fact that, just like the nation, local residents choose how they identify with themselves, according to Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission executive director Brian Martin.

“Our community and our nation no longer fit perfectly into the traditional white, black or Asian boxes,” he said. “People classify (and) the people in their households differently. The Dayton area reflects national trends for a significant increase in populations identifying as other or two or more races. “

Diversified suburbs

Suburbs, many of which have not been historically diverse, are becoming increasingly diverse, Martin said.

Census data confirms this. Among the results are:

  • Miami, Warren and Montgomery counties have seen their black populations increase by 24.4%, 19.4% and 1.7%, respectively, over the past decade.
  • Of the region’s 29 largest communities, four – Dayton, Trotwood, Xenia and Yellow Springs – have seen their black populations decline. Of the remaining 25 communities, 22 experienced double- and even triple-digit growth in their black population.
  • Of those 29 communities, five – Beavercreek Twp., Huber Heights, Springboro, Tipp City, and Yellow Springs – have seen their white populations increase.
  • Asian population growth in the region’s four counties, for the most part, outpaced growth in other ethnic groups, with Greene County increasing by 18%, Miami by 35%, Montgomery by 38% and Warren by 109. %.

“Households in Dayton, similar urban communities and possibly suburbs, are increasingly integrating among people of different races, making neighborhoods and communities more diverse,” Martin said.

Many hope the census data will lead to a greater and more diverse involvement of those who guide communities in the region.

“It looks like a change is happening, and I hope that change is reflected in the leadership within the city and region,” said Amaha Sellassie, assistant professor of sociology and director of the Center for Applied Social Issues from Sinclair Community College. “I don’t see a lot of Asians in leadership roles, but it looks like their numbers are growing, so how is this population represented? “

A growing percentage of minorities settling in suburban enclaves instead of staying or moving to town, he said, is “partly because there is a perception that Dayton is dangerous, which I think is wrong. don’t necessarily believe, but that’s the perception that’s out there. “

Changing demographics are also linked to the quality of local schools, Sellassie said.

“(Dayton Public Schools) it’s improving, but it’s still underperforming, so when people move in they tend to move to the suburbs,” he said. “I think the key is key. of the rejuvenation of Dayton resides in Dayton Public Schools as most people are not going to move to an area with an underperforming school. I think things are changing, but there is … a lot of work to be done .

Sellassie said he knew many people who moved from Dayton to Englewood, Huber Heights and communities outside the city limits of Dayton to be closer to amenities such as clothing stores and movie theaters.

“Dayton has a lot to do and… it’s changing but, there has definitely been a crisis,” he said.

Fight racism

Increased diversity helps increase the likelihood that people will develop mutual understanding and work together to combat racism, Sellassie said.

“If I don’t have interactions with anyone other than myself and base all of my information on what someone else is telling me or what I see in the news or what I see on TV and in movies, so I base my perception on that, ”he said. “But when I have had experiences with people, it humanizes everyone.”

Diverse regions also mean a greater chance to better understand our common humanity and our interdependence, which Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. called “one garment of fate”, than what affects one affects us all, and realize that we have a common future, said Sellassie.

“There is no black future, there is no white future, there is a common future as humanity,” he said.

Sellassie said Dayton and other communities in the area have said racism has been a public health problem in recent years “a big step.”

One of these communities, Huber Heights, has also formed its own Citizen Action Commission on Culture and Diversity. The city was one of many communities in the region that saw double-digit growth in its black and Asian populations.

Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore said it was fantastic to see race lines slowly but steadily diminishing.

“Huber Heights is a melting pot of all kinds of different ethnicities, and we’ve always been a pretty diverse city,” Gore said. “We know there are people moving to cities because of our diversity. I think that says a lot about our community, that this is where people want to be and not just the white population, so I couldn’t be happier.

Gore said the diverse growth seen in Huber Heights – Ohio’s 27th largest city – can be attributed to several factors, including being a developing and economically diverse community with housing options for all. socio-economic levels.

“Most importantly, everyone knows that if they move to Huber Heights they will be welcome here,” he said.

The Citizen’s Action Commission for Culture and Diversity, a commission appointed by the city, was formed to ensure that “everyone was treated fairly and equitably” among the city’s diverse population, he said. he declares.

“We’ve always taken the position that it’s just about education and bringing people together to understand the origins and issues that different ethnicities and races face,” Gore said. “We appreciate and support the work they do.

True integration

The increase in diversity among the region’s suburbs can be explained by the country’s changing demographics, the way people identify themselves and the way the census asks people to identify themselves, said Kadowaki from UD.

“We are seeing more people identifying as multiracial and that explains part of the change,” Kadowaki said. “But that something else is this change in the way the census asks about Hispanic or Latino origin this (era), but also asked that people be able to identify as any race.”

Basically what people should be aware of when making comparisons between 2010 and 2020 is ‘how much of a demographic shift this is compared to how people identify with themselves’, she declared.

The way the census made its changes is an attempt to better reflect how people identify themselves and not ask people to fit into narrow categories that they might not fit into, Kadowaki said. .

While it is good to see growing diversity, it is important for community members to remember that the presence of diversity is still not synonymous with true inclusion, both residential and social, has t she declared.

This, she said, is an area that residents and local leaders need to think about when considering what the next 10 years hold.

“You have to think about how we create communities, strong relationships, solidarity and cohesion in our communities through the different identities of people and how we also ensure that through these different groups of people, people have equitable access to the opportunities and benefits that we have in our communities, ”Kadowaki said.

It means creating a sense of community with these neighbors, “even though these neighbors are different than they were 10 years ago,” she said.

Increasing a race’s population will not solve integration issues, Kadowaki said.

“It takes a concerted effort on the part of the people who are active in their communities, the people who are active in city governance, in housing and community groups to integrate neighborhoods because it has not happened by. chance and it’s not going to come undone easily, ”she said.

Martin said that MVRPC’s Regional Equity Initiative within its Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities will help educate communities in the region on these census results, and facilitate discussions and training opportunities for them. ensure that all people and communities benefit.

Mason’s mayor Barbara Spaeth said the growth of the city’s Asian community, which grew 132.4% between 2010 and 2020 to become 18.4% of its overall population, was not surprising.

Spaeth, who has lived in the Warren County community most of her life, said people continued to move there because of its high-performance school district, strong economic base, jobs in growing, its increasingly abundant amenities and its location between highways 75 and 71.

Experts say census data can be used by Mason and other communities to determine how it can meet the needs of all residents.

“We are always looking to improve how we can meet the needs of everyone in our community, not just a specific population,” said Spaeth. “We always want everyone here to feel at home. “

About the way forward

Our team of journalists tackle the most pressing issues facing our community. The Path Forward Project seeks solutions to these problems by studying race and equity in the Dayton area. Follow our work on DaytonDailyNews.com/path-forward.

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