Craig White's Literature Courses


Terms / Themes



"White Flight"


(see also demographics, Dominant Culture USA)

thanks to

"White flight" was coined in the mid-20th century to describe an American demographic movement where middle class whites respond to the appearance in their urban neighborhoods of racial minorities by moving to suburbs or exurbs. Rationales for white flight are often framed in terms of crime, property values, and school integration, school quality, or "discipline."

Especially after World War 2 (mid-20c), middle-class white Americans flee cities for suburbs.


When suburbs became more multicultural starting in the 1980s, whites began moving further out to "exurbs" (e.g., Santa Fe or Lake Jackson relative to Houston) or to "gated communities." Politics re-align, with cities increasingly multicultural and liberal, exurbs white and conservative, and suburbs more or less mixed.


A counter-trend: in recent decades, some middle-class and professional whites, particularly the childless and "empty-nesters," move back to cities—a process called "gentrification"—which concentrates the "knowledge class" of post-industrial workers in information technology, alternative energy, etc., and revives some downtowns.


Another urban manifestation of "white flight" is "high-rise buildings" that separate the dominant culture from multicultural street life.


White Flight also occurs on continental scale:


Coastal or border cities like Houston, LA, NYC, Boston, Miami, even Atlanta are increasingly diverse or multicultural.


Working-class & middle-class whites move from high-immigration coasts to interior white-majority states like Idaho, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kansas.

(Their children may leave low-employment conservative interior small towns for higher-employment coastal cities.)


Politics re-align: Coasts become more liberal (except in Old Confederacy and exurbs), while interior states like Kansas, Idaho, and Iowa become more conservative.


Relevance to immigrant literature:


These are all migration patterns that respond to the stresses of other migration patterns. One way and another, Americans remain true to immigrant origins: We keep moving.


Brad Plumer, "Americans still move around more than anyone else in the world" Washington Post 15 May 2013


Modernity / tradition


Web sources: "an occurrence in which many white people move out of a city as more and more people of other races move in + the departure of whites from places (as urban neighborhoods or schools) increasingly or predominantly populated by minorities" (


"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." (

Related concepts:


"Redlining" in real estate business ("In the 1960s, sociologist John McKnight coined the term 'redlining' to describe the discriminatory practice of fencing off areas where banks would avoid investments based on community demographics. During the heyday of redlining, the areas most frequently discriminated against were black inner city neighborhoods."


bible academies—religion blurs with ethnicity?