Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2023 Gabrielle Cosey. All rights reserved. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Sociology & Anthropology

First Advisor

Edlin Veras

Abstract

This study examines the migration of Black, middle and upper class members of my family from Black neighborhoods in Southern Louisiana into white neighborhoods. Most of the canon on Black residential patterns question why such high levels of residential segregation remain. Thus, the existing literature explores various structural and individual reasons as to why Black households, regardless of income level, continually reside in Black neighborhoods, even though they often exhibit higher rates of poverty and associated characteristics. This research project approaches the topic from the opposite end, centering its analysis on Black individuals who move into white neighborhoods, in order to introduce a new perspective into the academic discourse. Further, I pull from Marxist frameworks to establish the racial capitalist hierarchy as the foundational structure which informs how our broader systems function and infiltrates to the level of individual decisions. This study analyzes four, in-depth interviews with family members and a close family friend, who discuss their, and in the case of one, their parent’s, migration out of Southern Louisiana. Autoethnographic sections are interwoven throughout as I reflect on my own relation to this topic, which was the grounding inspiration for this inquiry. I supplement these interviews with a historical review of the era in which my participants grew up in, during the prime years of school integration in the 1970s and 1980s. I conclude that this moment in history made highly visible the connections between one’s individual capital and their political and ideological positions through exercises of white flight. This becomes an imperative framework through which the participants of this study view their own practices of residential decision making. Fundamentally, what draws individuals to migrate from Black to white neighborhoods is the quest for opportunity, which signals a trade-off between living amongst one’s community or having access to increased resources. I describe this as the extra, or hidden, costs to Black residential decision making.

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