By Reniqua Allen
Life in the suburbs is supposed to reflect the quintessential American Dream—white picket fences, birds chirping in the mornings, and homes to call your own. According to the 2010 Census, blacks, long associated with urban communities, are finally starting to trade concrete jungles for grassy knolls. Hundreds of thousands of blacks, particularly those in the middle and upper class, have left cities like New York and Chicago for the Southern suburbs of North Carolina, Texas and Maryland, for a promise of a “better” life. But is suburbia really a dream locale for African Americans?
Felicia Duncan, 38, was fed up with urban life in her hometown of Oakland, California four years ago. She wanted a better environment for her daughter to grow up in, and was increasingly troubled by her surroundings. “I wasn’t comfortable with [my daughter] stepping out in the front yard. It was a lot going on in terms of drug use, drug sales, and crime activity.” So like 25% of other blacks in the area, she left the city, once known as the center of the Black Power Movement.
Six bedrooms and four thousand square feet later, Duncan was in Antioch, a suburb 45 minutes outside of the city. “I liked that my daughter could ride her bike around. There were yard sales. And neighbors. You let your guard down. In Oakland you didn’t talk to your neighbors cause you thought they were going to break in your house.”