LANSING, Mich. — Census data released this month shows that Michigan lost more than 25,000 Black residents since 2010.
The question is how. Did the state's Black population actually fall? Was it a faulty count? Or are people just starting to identify in different ways?
The Brookings Institution did an interpretation on the data and Michigan was one of eight states to lose Black residents.
FOX 47 News reached out to experts to see why they believe it happened.
"Michigan saw growth in Latinos and Asian population, which tends to follow the national trend and what we've seen in Michigan over the years. But for the first time, we see the Black population drop. And the question is why," said Kurt Metzger, a former state demographer and the founder and former director of Data Driven Detroit.
He believes there are multiple factors contributing to the drop in the Black population.
"I think, first of all, demographically, African Americans are having fewer children. They're kind of following the white population. The African American population is getting older. Also teen births have dropped dramatically over the years. And the African American birth rate has dropped as well," said Metzger, who is now mayor of Pleasant Ridge.
He also believes that the pandemic caused an undercount for the census, hindering a lot of outreach activities.
"How many African Americans were missed? And that's really predicated on Detroit's population, where 93,000 fewer African Americans were counted in 2020 than in 2010," Metzger said.
James McCurtis is the second vice president for the NAACP branch in Lansing. He says his first reaction when he heard about the decrease is that those numbers will hurt "the local communities that a lot of black people have left, whether it's Detroit, or Lansing, or in our general area because we get a lot of government funding based on census numbers."
Another reason the population dropped could be what's known as reverse migration.
"Years and years and years ago, we had the Great Migration where my great-grandparents, grandparents and parents moved from the South to the North for opportunities," McCurtis said. "And I think that's the same thing that's going on now. They're leaving, you know, a lot of Northern cities and going South for opportunities. And you can see that in politics. If you look at how Georgia turned blue in the last election, or how Arizona turned blue in the last election,"
Metzger believes Michigan's Black residents may be drawn to economic opportunities in the South.
"They've got friends who have moved south and they're being told, 'Hey, come on down. This is a great place. There's great nightlife. You've got communities now,'" Metzger said.
That's what vlogger Alexis Lord did. She moved to Atlanta From Detroit back in 2013 after seeing how much her sister loved living there. She also says she has family in the Georgia area.
"Atlanta has shown me that it's so many different things that you could possibly do to be successful. It opened a lot of doors for me. I've met a lot of people. And I don't know, I've had a lot of experiences here that I don't think I would have had just living in Detroit where I'm actually from," Lord said. "I think there are opportunities in Detroit. But when you're living in your home state or in your comfort zone, you're less likely to jump out of your comfort zone or to do different things. And Atlanta is so many people doing different things.
Artem Gulish a senior strategist and researcher at Georgetown University, believes that Michigan didn't lose 25,000 black people. He thinks people are just identifying as multiracial instead.
"If you look at people, if you look at the numbers, people who identify as Black or African American only, those who have gone down by 25,000, but people who identify as Black or African American or in combination with another race has actually increased 28,000," Gulish said.