"White Flight" in Southeastern Colorado?

January 22 2005, 2:12 PM

The Rocky Mountain News has an interesting story today about demographic changes in southeastern Colorado. Basically, lots of Latinos are moving in to the region just as lots of white residents with deep roots there are leaving. The News calls this a "version of 'white flight'," but that doesn't sound like a very helpful label to me. "White flight" in cities like Denver was a reaction to court rulings that required desegregated urban schools. The flight to the suburbs was a reaction to the prospect of integration. It doesn't sound to me like what is happening in southeastern Colorado can fairly be called "white flight." It seems like what is really happening is that the general economic downturn in that part of the state has made it so affordable that lower income Latinos are willing to give relocating there a shot, while that same economic downturn is causing lots of the longer time residents to give up and leave. Yes, those longer term residents are disproportionately white, but nothing in this article makes it sound as though the increasing diversity of the region is actually driving them to leave. To the contrary, it sounds more like these white residents would really prefer to stay and hope that the Latino influx will help bring the economy back so that they can stay. If there is a historical parallel here, it would be to the Dust Bowl era that drove so many people away from the plains, not to the "white flight" phenomenon.

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