Census shows racial changes

The news: The first batch of results from the 2010 Census was released in December.

Behind the news: Eight wards in Chicago had a shift in racial majority, according to a Chicago Reporter analysis of census data from 2005 to 2009.

Three racially mixed wards–”the 40th, 46th and 48th–”and one majority-Latino ward–”the 1st–”became majority-white, while two majority-black wards–”the 2nd and 27th–”and one majority-white ward–”the 50th–”shifted to being racially mixed. Another majority-white ward–”the 13th–”became majority-Latino.

Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, attributed the increase of majority-white wards to gentrification in the past decade. This was particularly evident in the 2nd Ward, which saw a boom in condominium construction. “It has a racial aspect, but it’s a class change,” he said. “Forces of development are attracting more whites to move back to the city.”

Even though the number of majority-Latino wards did not see an overall increase, Simpson predicted that Latinos will gain political power through the redistricting process. Latinos have been underrepresented because their voting population is reduced by citizenship barriers and low turnout, he said. But that will change over the next decade as Latinos have the largest young population. “That’s a sign of increasing strength,” Simpson said. “They will be a legitimate third partner in the political system.”

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