In the 20th century, in the midst of an exceptional wave of European immigrants to the United States, the idea of America as an ethnic "melting pot" gained currency. The melting pot ideal which persisted at the turn of the 21st century, included a more racially and ethnically diverse group of Americans, both native and foreign born. This distinctly American concept increases the higher growth rates of the nation's minority populations versus its white population. In the last four decades, the United States has experienced exceptional, sweeping transformations in its racial and ethnic landscape; changes that are transforming rural, urban, and suburban settings allover the nation despite the fact that cultural identity as fluid and ever changing is an old American feature.
The Nature, Causes and impacts of Racial and Ethnic diversity in U.S. Cities
Ethnically and/or racially defined localities have changed within the center of Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. Ironically, segregation has yielded both positive and negative outcomes on the social and economic development of localities. Within these closed societies, neighborhood businesses, and social and cultural institutions have come up. These provide benefits to the residents, offering goods and services regularly unobtainable elsewhere. Diversity is increasingly gaining popularity in the United States. This is true because the respondents could select more than one race group to describe their racial identities in the 2000 census although multiracial and interracial families always have been part of the U.S. population. In addition, this gave a much more precise picture of the racial diversity of the United States. Immigrant groups also vary concerning their socioeconomic conditions in the host society. There are clear differences between the foreign-born and native populations in socioeconomic attributes according to recent data.
In the recent decades, social and economic forces have drastically varied the regional landscape for racial and ethnic minorities. Forty years ago, Hispanic and Asian populations remained rooted in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco while the blacks were continuing their old move out of the South toward cities in the North and West. Important congressional legislation, including the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and landmark civil rights laws, helped alter these dynamics. Similarly, the social and geographic mobility of consequent generations of African Americans resulted from the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Black migration began to return to the South when more blacks entered the middle class and as images of the isolated south declined. Other factors that have compelled others to migrate from their home countries include; political persecution, political instability, and religious and ethnic discrimination. For instance, millions of Haitians, Colombians, Sudanese, and Cubans immigrants look for political refuge in the United States.
The potential costs of diversity are apparent. Policies, which are counterproductive and odious for the public, are a product of racism, prejudices, and conflict of preferences. In addition, political unrest or even civil wars can result from the oppression of minorities. However, a diverse ethnic mix also causes diversity in experiences, cultures, and abilities that may be useful and may produce creativity and innovation. Poor policy management is common in the sectioned societies, which can create more politico-economic challenges than homogenous ones. The development of political power is highly affected by the residential isolation. Racially and ethnically defined neighborhoods have influenced their voting power to assist elect local, county and state representatives, many of whom are people of color.
In the U.S., among the most disadvantaged Cities are the ones that are very diverse both ethnically and racially. A recent study indicates that local politics exaggerate these disadvantages. For example, diverse U.S. municipalities use less money on schools, roads, and other public goods. Moreover, there is low level of funding of schools by the U.S. if the elderly and the young are from diverse ethnic or racial backgrounds. Ethnic and racial diversity, in a variety of settings, appears to reduce communities' readiness to make large-scale public ventures. There is increased competition for scarce resources in persons living near members of another racial group leading to reduced tolerance. In view of this, closeness and supposed competition heightens people's level of out-group animosity. People are less likely to benefit from public goods that they share with other groups. The whites in a varied locality may see public spending as a barrier to their advantages. As the local population changes, so too might views of who gains from local spending.
Racial and ethnic diversity in most U.S. cities have both positive and negative implications. However, the negative implications override the positive effects. These effects range from political, economic and social impacts. Immigration is the major cause of this diversity whereby there are numerous immigrants from other countries who flocks in to the United States. Civil rights legislation of the 1960s is another major cause of racial diversity in the country.