by Greg Kohn
While dramatic shifts in race took place nationwide between 2000 and 2010 as Hispanics and Asians grew in greater numbers than other races, the racial makeup of Takoma Park stayed virtually unchanged in the past decade.
The modest 1 percent increase of Takoma Park residents who identified themselves as Black or African American was the biggest such change for minority groups, as the percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents rose just a tenth of a percent, and the Asian population was unchanged, according to the U.S. Census data.
All this comes despite Takoma’s status as a sanctuary city, which prevents local police from ascertaining the citizen status of city residents, and its adherence to other immigrant-friendly policies such as granting those not yet American citizens the right to vote and run in local elections.
However, Bruce Baker, the director of CHEER – a local citizen group dedicated to Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research – said that the data does not reflect the shifts that have in fact happened.
“When you look at the data broadly, it masks some real changes,” Baker said. “For example, along Maple Avenue, African Americans were a majority a year ago. Now, they’ve been largely replaced by Ethiopian immigrants. This is an ethnic change, a subtlety not captured in the Census.”
Additionally, the Takoma Park population is already diverse – there are 5.6 percent more blacks and 6.3 percent more Hispanics than compared to Maryland as a whole, according to the 2010 Census – a quality which Pamela Zorich, a demographer for the Montgomery County Planning Department, said also conceals the change.
“An already diverse community doesn’t necessarily make it easy to measure additional diversity,” Zorich said.
Other factors have influenced the stability in the population, which would affect racial change. Half of Takoma Park’s population own homes, and it is the only place in Montgomery County which enforces rent stabilization, according to Baker. This translates to a turnover rate in apartments that is half that of the county, he said.
However, Baker admits that without certain policies, Takoma Park likely would have decreased in diversity over the past decade. “The rise in housing prices has been very influential, drawing higher-income white families to the city,” Baker said. “If it weren’t for rent stabilization, we likely would have moved backwards in terms of diversity.”
|Census Year||% White||% Black||% Hispanic||% Asian|