[A]ccompanying [the integration of African Americans into "the upper echelons and leadership of American society, public life and national identity"] has been the near complete isolation of blacks from the private life of the white majority. Recent modest improvements notwithstanding, blacks, including the middle class, are nearly as segregated today as they were in DuBois’s day....So, according to Patterson, it is up to the black middle class to change its ways. Whether they are reading TimesSelect is another matter. I assume the people who get TimesSelect are already living in middle class white neighborhoods. Patterson is encouraging complacency on their part. That doesn't mean he's not right, though.
The celebrated tipping-point theory of Thomas Schelling, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has long appeared to offer a pessimistic answer to the puzzle. It holds that even where a majority of whites favor having black neighbors, the all-white preference of just a few will always rapidly escalate into total segregation.
However, the economist William Easterly, after examining data on segregation over the past three decades, has demonstrated conclusively that Schelling’s theory is groundless in regard to race. In the vast majority of neighborhoods studied, Easterly found no pattern of acceleration of white decline, no evidence of a sudden, extreme exodus at the fabled tipping point, but instead a steady, almost constant decline in the proportion of whites from one decade to the next. Moreover, the typical neighborhoods that did change from being predominantly white to predominantly black in this period still had a significant proportion of whites living in them.
So why does segregation persist? The evidence seems clear that, in sharp contrast with the past, the major cause is that blacks generally prefer to live in neighborhoods that are at least 40 percent black. Blacks mention ethnic pride and white hostility as their main reasons for not moving to white neighborhoods. But studies like Mary Pattillo-McCoy’s ethnography of middle-class black ghettos show that the disadvantages, especially for youth, far outweigh the psychic gains.
It would be naïve to discount persisting white racism, but other minorities, like Jews, have faced a similar dilemma and opted, with good reasons, for integration. The Jewish-American experience also shows that identity and integration are not incompatible, and that when the middle class moves, others follow. If America is ever to solve the second part of DuBois’s color problem, it will be on the shoulders of the black middle class.
(Here's an article of his from last March about "the tragic disconnection of millions of black youths from the American mainstream.")