chapter  1
25 Pages

The Emerging Urban Crisis

How far does the current American urban racial situation provide a portent for the United Kingdom? Initially it is important to point out the differences between the two situations. First, there is the question of size. Clearly there is no comparison of the relative size and concentrations of racial minority populations between the United Kingdom and USA. Well over 20 million Americans are black and this is more than one American in eight or nine, compared with an estimated 1½ million 'coloured' in the United Kingdom, or less than 3 per cent of the population. Many American cities are

expecting that well over half their population will be black by the mid 1980s (and the list includes areas like metropolitan New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland and New Orleans), and already Washington DC, Newark and Gary have metropolitan populations of over 50 per cent black. Public school populations of most of these cities are already half black, and in Washington DC less than one pupil in 20 in the public schools is white. (Public schools in the States are equivalent to our maintained schools.) This contrasts with the United Kingdom: it was impossible a decade ago to find even census enumeration districts that were exclusively black, and currently only two of our local education authorities have more than one-quarter of their pupils defined as 'immigrant', and a further four between one-fifth and onequarter classified in the same way. Although two out of three West Indian children are in schools in the Greater London area and half in the inner city area (ILEA) few schools have concentrations of the minority groups implied in the US figure. In the ILEA area 60 per cent of the so-called immigrant pupils are in schools with less than 20 per cent immigrants and only one immigrant pupil in six is in a school with over 50 per cent immigrants. In the whole country less than 150 schools had more than 50 per cent of their pupils defined as immigrant in 1971.