White flight is a term that originated in the United States, starting in the 1950s and 1960s, and applied to the large-scale migration of people of various European ancestries from racially mixed urban regions to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions. The term has more recently been applied to other migrations by whites, from older, inner suburbs to rural areas, as well as from the US Northeast and Midwest to the milder climate in the Southeast and Southwest.   The term has also been used for large-scale post-colonial emigration of whites from Africa, or parts of that continent,     driven by levels of violent crime and anti-colonial state policies.
Migration of middle-class white populations was observed during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s out of cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and Oakland, although racial segregation of public schools had ended there long before the US Supreme Court"s decision Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In the 1970s, attempts to achieve effective desegregation by means of forced busing in some areas led to more families" moving out of former areas.  More generally, some historians suggest that white flight occurred in response to population pressures, both from the large migration of blacks from the rural South to northern cities in the Great Migration and the waves of new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. However, some historians have challenged the phrase "white flight" as a misnomer whose use should be reconsidered. In her study of Chicago"s West Side during the post-war era, historian Amanda Seligman argues that the phrase misleadingly suggests that whites immediately departed when blacks moved into the neighborhood, when in fact, many whites defended their space with violence, intimidation, or legal tactics. Leah Boustan, Professor of Economics at Princeton, attributes white flight