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Twin Cities Less Segregated Than Some Illinois Communities

Johnny Silvercloud
Creative Commons

Bloomington and Normal neighborhoods are more racially integrated than those of several other Illinois cities, including Peoria, Champaign, Urbana, Springfield, Rockford and Decatur.

That's according to a new Illinois State University study by the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Justice.

"Bloomington  Normal has lower levels of segregation relative to other communities in central Illinois," said ISU sociology Professor Frank Beck, who oversaw the research project for the grass roots organization Not In Our Town.

Researchers used census data to take into account the overall racial and ethnic make up of the Twin Cities, then compared that to the make up of individual neighborhoods.

"Bloomington-Normal is doing pretty well with respect to segregation measures compared to those other cities," Beck said.

This doesn't mean all neighborhoods in the Twin Cities are integrated. 

"I didn't say Bloomington-Normal is not segregated, but Bloomington-Normal, compared to the six other cities, it is doing better. We are more diverse," Beck said.

The full findings of the report won't be released until Tuesday at 5 p.m. in ISU's Bone Student Center.  GLT News was able to obtain a preview some of the information.

The study also looked at police traffic data, McLean County jail data and access to services.

Beck declined to give specifics on those findings before the study is released.

He said, however, "There are some things we can be proud of in the sense that we have made progress over time and there are other things that we probably have to work on as a community."

Police stops are one area he said the researchers analyzed.

"There are differences between Bloomington and Normal and between those six other cities with respect to traffic stops and with respect to race and ethnicity in those traffic stops," Beck said.

The researchers, who included 15 sociology department seniors from ISU and 12 graduate students in community and economic development, also met with focus groups and interviewed public officials  and community leaders, "all about painting a portrait or holding up a mirror to social issues," Beck said.

The study includes information on other minority populations including the disabled and members of LGBTQ community. "It's not just (about) race and ethnicity," Beck said.

Not In Our Town, which promotes social justice, sought this research to determine steps it might take in the future to help create a more inclusive community, Beck said. 

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