As U.S. cities accommodate increasing ethnic and racial diversity, political choices may unify or divide their local populations. Those choices pull communities toward two different modes of pluralism: traditional “melting pot” assimilation or a complex mosaic of racial and ethnic assertiveness. Central to this issue is equity and empowerment, which may be accentuated by minority populations’ size, structure, and spatial concentration. We examine two potential modes of local empowerment: “dominance,” whereby each group is the majority of voters in single election districts (reinforcing separative tendencies), and “influence,” whereby a group gains “influential minority” status in several districts (reinforcing unifying tendencies).

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