Census data shows communities in the region are becoming more diverse
The city of Dayton saw its white and black populations drop, while it saw an increase in its Asian populations, as well as people who identified as “other race” or “two or more” races.
The city is no longer predominantly white.
Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw said the city losing only about 3,800 people since 2010 is a “huge change” from the previous five censuses, where more than 10,000 were lost each decade.
“While there has been a drop 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 “pretty excited” by the census information and encouraged by the diversity it shows.
Part of the demographic shift is because, like the nation, local residents choose how they identify, according to Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Brian Martin.
“Our community and our nation no longer fit neatly into the traditional boxes of white, black or Asian,” he said. “People classify themselves (and) the people in their households differently. The Dayton area reflects national trends for a significant increase in populations identifying with other or two or more races.
Diversify the suburbs
Suburbs, many of which have not been historically diverse, are becoming increasingly diverse, Martin said.
Census data confirms this. Among the discoveries are:
“Households in Dayton, similar urban communities and likely suburbs, are increasingly integrated among people of different races, making neighborhoods and communities more diverse,” Martin said.
Many hope the census data will lead to greater and more diverse involvement of those who guide communities in the region.
“It seems like a shift is happening, and I hope that shift is reflected in 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 seems their numbers are growing, so how is this population represented?”
A growing percentage of minorities moving to suburban enclaves instead of staying or moving to the city, he said, is “in part because there’s a perception that Dayton is unsafe, which I don’t don’t necessarily believe, but it’s the perception that’s out there.”
Changing demographics are also tied to the quality of local schools, Sellassie said.
“(Dayton Public Schools), it’s getting better, but it’s still underperforming, so when people move in, they tend to move out to the suburbs,” he said. “I think the key to rejuvenating Dayton is the Dayton Public Schools, because most people aren’t going to move into an area with an underperforming school. I think things are changing, but there’s…a lot of work to be done.
Sellassie said he knows many people who have moved from Dayton to Englewood, Huber Heights and communities outside Dayton’s city limits to be closer to amenities such as clothing stores and movie theaters.
“Dayton has a lot going on and… it’s spinning but, there’s definitely been a crisis,” he said.
Increased diversity helps increase the likelihood that people will develop mutual understanding and work together to fight racism, Sellassie said.
“If I don’t interact with anyone other than myself and base all my information on what someone else tells me or what I see on the news or what I see on TV and in movies, so I base my perception from that,” he said. “But when I’ve had experiences with people, it humanizes everyone.”
The diversity of regions also means a greater chance to better understand our common humanity and our interdependence, something the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. called “a single garment of fate”, that what affects us, affects us all, and to realize that we have a common future, said Sellassie.
“There is no black future, there is no white future, there is a shared future as humanity,” he said.
Sellassie said Dayton and other area communities declaring racism a public health issue in recent years was “a big step forward.”
One such community, 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 experienced double-digit growth for its black and Asian populations.
Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore said it was fantastic to see the racial lines slowly but surely diminishing.
“Huber Heights is a melting pot of all kinds of different ethnicities, and we’ve always been quite a diverse city,” Gore said. “We know there are people moving to the city because of our diversity. I think that says a lot about our community, that it’s where people want to be and not just white people, 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 every level. socioeconomic.
“Most importantly, everyone knows that if they move to Huber Heights, they’ll be welcome here,” he said.
The Citizen Action Commission for Culture and Diversity, a city-appointed commission, was created to ensure “everyone is 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 educating and bringing people together to understand the origins and the issues that different ethnicities and races face,” Gore said. “We appreciate and support the work they do.”
The increase in diversity among the region’s suburbs can be explained by the changing demographics of the country, how people identify themselves and how the census asks people to identify themselves, Kadowaki said. of the DU.
“We’re seeing more people identifying as multiracial and that explains some of the change,” Kadowaki said. “But that other thing is this change in the way the census asks about Hispanic or Latino origin this (time), but also asked that people can identify with any race.”
Basically, what people should be paying attention to when making comparisons between 2010 and 2020 is “how much of a demographic shift that is in terms of how people identify,” she said. .
The way the census made its changes is an attempt to better reflect how people identify and not ask people to fit into narrow categories they may not fit into, Kadowaki said. .
While seeing increasing diversity is a good thing, it is important for community members to remember that the presence of diversity is still not the same as true integration, both residential and social, has she declared.
This, she said, is an area that residents and local leaders need to think about when considering what the next 10 years have in store.
“You have to think about how do we create communities, strong relationships, togetherness and cohesion in our communities through the different identities of people and how do we also ensure that through these different groups of people , people have equal access to the opportunities and benefits that we have in our communities,” Kadowaki said.
It means creating a sense of community with those neighbors, “even if those neighbors look different from 10 years ago,” she said.
Increasing a race’s population will not solve integration problems, Kadowaki said.
“It takes a concerted effort from people who are active in their communities, people who are active in city governance, in housing and community groups to integrate neighborhoods because it hasn’t happened like it by accident and it won’t come undone easily,” she said.
Martin said MVRPC’s Regional Equity Initiative within its Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities will help educate communities in the region about these census results and facilitate discussions and training opportunities to ensure that all people and communities benefit.
Mason Mayor Barbara Spaeth said the growth of that city’s Asian community, which grew 132.4% between 2010 and 2020 to 18.4% of its total population, was unsurprising.
Spaeth, who has lived in the Warren County community most of his life, said people continue to move there because of its top-ranking school district, strong economic base, growing employment, 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 they can meet the needs of all residents.
“We’re always looking to improve how we can meet the needs of everyone in our community, not just a specific population,” Spaeth said. “We always want everyone here to feel at home.”
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Our team of journalists looks at the most pressing issues facing our community. The Path Forward Project seeks solutions to these issues by investigating race and equity in the Dayton area. Follow our work at DaytonDailyNews.com/path-forward.