Cultural shifts in America's suburban neighborhoods

Published: Sep. 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM EDT
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Sarah Buchanan spent most of her young life raised in a predominately white suburb attending predominately white schools.

"The school I went to was just one certain kind of people," said Buchanan.

The 18-year-old UNC Charlotte student's view of life has changed now that she lives close to campus.

"Living here makes you more open minded towards other people," said Buchanan.

And her new neighborhood is not the only one, the traditional image of America's suburbia is fading.

"When you work, where ever you go you are going to meet people of different races and so you have to be culturally competent," said UNCC student Shamari Inuwa.

Two decades ago, most of the nation's suburbs were 81% white according the US Census.

The 2010 census shows another slice of the story.

"We're definitely seeing an increase in diversity both racially and demographically and economically in the suburbs here in Charlotte," said Social Research Specialist Laura Simmons.

Racially diverse suburbs are on the cutting edge of social and political change.

UNCC research says they tend to be bipartisan and more economically mixed.

"A lot of it is stemming from the economic growth in the suburbs," said Simmons.

"So people are following the jobs, affordable housing safety or at least perceived safety and good schools."

Students say the cultural shift helps them expand their horizons.

"I'm not afraid to talk to certain people because of who they are or their background," said Buchanan.

"The world in general is diverse you have to be able to connect with different people who are different from you," added Inuwa.