Courtesy of WalletHub
Courtesy of WalletHub

The District faired quite well in a new poll that revealed the most and least ethnically diverse cities in America.

D.C. finished in 30th place among 297 others in the most ethnically diverse cities category. The nearby Maryland cities of Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Silver Spring, finished second, third and fourth overall, behind Jersey City, N.J.

Spring Valley, Nevada, rounded out the top five, according to personal-finance website WalletHub, which recently released its report on 2019’s Most & Least Ethnically Diverse Cities.

Oakland, California, has the highest racial and ethnic diversity than any other city in the country, a figure that’s four times higher than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the lowest.

Meanwhile, Hialeah enjoys the highest concentration of Hispanics or Latinos, at 96.44 percent while Laconia, New Hampshire; has the highest concentration of whites, at 94.81 percent.

Additionally, according to a new study, Jackson, Mississippi, has the highest concentration of Blacks, at 81.44 percent.

While New York City, Oakland, San Jose, Calif., Rockville, Md., and Kent, Washington, also made the top 10, Rutland, Vermont; Wheeling, West Virginia; Laconia, New Hampshire; Miles City, Montana; and Bennington, Vermont, were identified as the five least ethnically diverse cities.

Barre, Vermont; Clarksburg, West Virginia; Watertown, South Dakota; Parkersburg, West Virginia; and Hialeah, Florida, comprised the rest of the 10 least ethnically diverse cities.

To identify the most ethnically diverse places in America, WalletHub compared more than 500 of the largest U.S. cities across three key metrics: ethno-racial diversity, linguistic diversity and birthplace diversity.

Havre, Montana, had the highest concentration of residents who spoke English (98.57 percent), while Hileah found itself at the opposite end with just 5.59 percent of its residents speaking English.

By contrast, 93.96 percent of Hileah residents speak Spanish and just 0.33 percent of those in Havre speak Spanish.

For birthplace diversity — where residents continue to live long after they were born — Greenville, Mississippi topped every city with 86.79 percent of those born and raised there still reside while Hilton Head Island, S.C., came in last at 16.80 percent.

New York (69.40 percent) is the most diverse large city, Jersey City the most diverse mid-size city and Gaithersburg the most diverse small city, according to the report.

“A growing body of social, psychological research suggests that information about increasing ethnic diversity can lead White Americans to express greater concerns about their ethnic group’s status and, further, these concerns can have implications for interethnic attitudes as well as political attitudes,” said Dr. Maureen Craig, a WalletHub expert and assistant professor of psychology at New York University.

“For example, prior research has found that viewing a media report detailing increases in national ethnic diversity can lead White Americans to express ethnic bias, support more exclusionary political stances, and express greater concerns about anti-White discrimination,” Craig said. “However, an important caveat is that these experiments all focus on what happens when White Americans are asked to anticipate ethnic demographic change.”

There are many benefits to a diverse, multicultural city some of which are being exposed to different neighborhoods, communities, culture, parks and restaurants, said Dr. Kwame Dixon, a WalletHub expert and an assistant professor of African American Studies in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

“In most case, a diverse cultural setting leads to some common boundaries of understanding,” Dixon said. “The social citizen of the 21st century must be being exposed to multiple cultural settings and environments.”

If diversity becomes a smokescreen for displacement or gentrification, or if a historically Black or Latino community is diversified in a short period of time by newcomers defined as white, then there will be tensions around space, identity and displacement, he said.

“This may lead to other tensions — former residents being pushed to the margins or to poorer communities,” Dixon said.

To view the full report, go to wallethub.com.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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