02/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Shopping Remains A Segregated Activity In America

Martin Luther King once described Sunday mornings, when people go to church, as the most segregated moment in American life. That is probably still true. But, particularly for groups other than blacks, Saturday mornings are not far behind. A century ago ethnic-minority groups clustered for self-defence, or because they were forced to. Half a century ago they were bound together by language and poverty. Now they congregate to eat and shop.

Despite the housing-market crash, immigrants and ethnic minorities continue to leave inner-city ghettos for more mixed suburbs. That movement has forced other changes. Research by Gary Orfield of the University of California at Los Angeles shows that in 1988 the average white public-school pupil went to a school that was 83.4% white. That proportion had fallen to 76.6% by 2006. In the West more than a fifth of white children attended mixed-race schools, with at least 10% of students from three or more ethnic groups.

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