Greenspotting: Race and Ethnicity maps of the U.S.

The blogosphere has been buzzing this week over a…Flickr set with ten year old information. And with good reason. Eric Fisher’s use of ten year old census data helps us visualize the segregation we already know exists in our major cities:

[Eric Fisher's] taken a look at the way that the residents of major American cities assort themselves. Inspired by Bill Rankin’s map of Chicago’s racial and ethnic divides, he took census data from the year 2000 to see how other cities stacked up in terms of how citizens identify themselves and where they live.

Each dot in the plot above represents 25 people. The red-green colorblind among you may see a nearly monochrome map since those two colors represent self-identified whites and Asians. The cluster of blue dots … represent African-Americans. In and of themselves, the findings are hardly shocking, but since it’s Flickr, the map has already become interactive as users chime in with notes and comments to explain the city’s patterns. Even if you aren’t a sucker for information graphics, there’s something interesting in comparing and contrasting our city with the others in the photoset. [Link]

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p>Here is the map of my area in Los Angeles. I make up the green right where the Red, Blue, and Orange intersect on the westside:

Use the search bar on Eric’s page to look for your city. I thought the picture of DC showed one of the clearest divides. Can’t wait to see how the demographics change when he uses 2010 data.

9 thoughts on “Greenspotting: Race and Ethnicity maps of the U.S.

  1. i think you could create more fine-grained ethnic maps from the census data set. perhaps i should do it.

  2. A color-coded ethnic map of Boston would be all white with a big, brown circle showing my place of domicile, since I’m the brownest man of New England. I’m so brown, that I make the BJP look like cardigan-wearing WASPs.

  3. Interesting post, Abhi. (BTW, I also liked several other posts you’ve written, didn’t get a chance to chime in :) ).

    I looked through most of the charts, and the thing that emerges most clearly is that whenever a substantial African-American presence exists in a city, it is segregated, often in the innermost sections of the city. But we knew that.

    What I didn’t suspect was that the degree of segregation of the African-American population does not vary much across the country – I had always thought that cities in the Northwest – Portland and Seattle, for example, or towns like Minneapolis and Omaha for example, would be less segregated than cities in the South, the East Coast, and the Lower Midwest (Detroit/Chicago). But not noticeably less, by these maps.

    And while Washington DC clearly segregates between NW and SE – the neighborhood-by-neighborhood segregation seemed clearest in New Orleans to me – where neighborhoods in a row will alternate between black and white – blue and red.

    However, I found that cities that have substantial Latino and Asian presence seemed more mixed if they lacked a significant African-American presence – Honolulu, for example, which has a huge Asian presence; or cities like Corpus Christi or El Paso TX, Reno NV, Mesa AZ, Salt Lake City UT, Lincoln NE and to an extent Sacramento, Riverside, Stockton and Bakersfield CA – which have significant Latino and/or Asian populations (but not as many Af-Ams) are fairly well mixed.

    I found that among cities which have significant minority populations, some of the least segregated seem to be in the ‘four-corner’ states – UT, CO, AZ, NM. And towns in the Northern NorthEast – Concord NH, Burlington VT, Portsmouth NH, are nearly 100% white – no gray, green, orange or blue dots at all.

    Overall, orange seems to mix fairly well with red – not perfectly, but fairly well. Green and orange, and green and red can mix too. But not blue and red. To some extent this is also a visual thing – blue is furthest from red in the BGOR spectrum, but I wonder if the race-color mapping was also deliberately done – for example, having chosen red=white, he didn’t choose orange to be ‘Af-Am’.

    • First remember that asians means east Asians in America. Second, Hispanic and Asian segregation is widespread from New York to LA. Desis are segregated in New York and New Jersey. In the UK desis, mostly punjabis and kashmiris from Pakistan, live in their own blue collar ghettos. The intermarriage rates between desis and whites in the UK is by far the lowest of any race. The intermarriage rates between Afro-Brits and native white Brits is more than ten times higher.

      I expect this self-segregation to continue. Most non-white americans will live amongst their own race.

  4. - Portland and Seattle, for example, or towns like Minneapolis and Omaha for example, would be less segregated than cities in the South, the East Coast, and the Lower Midwest (Detroit/Chicago).

    i have lived in portland, and have family in the seattle area. the black populations of these towns are so small that segregation has a qualitatively different feel. additionally, i’m skeptical of the index of segregation being high. the northeast section of portland, where the blacks lived traditionally, has been gentrifying and the locals have been dispersing into the suburbs.

  5. I saw these a while back and didn’t think much of them, but after thinking about “Asian” definitions (thanks, Krish) and the idiotic census (namely question 9), I have to wonder how do they classify citizen desis here. As Asians or whites?

  6. I saw these a while back and didn’t think much of them, but after thinking about “Asian” definitions (thanks, Krish) and the idiotic census (namely question 9), I have to wonder how do they classify citizen desis here. As Asians or whites?

    we’re asian americans and in the same class as southeast and east asians. this is a source of confusion for non-americans, but it’s how it is here. before 1980 we were classified as white for a while, but being an ethnic minority has some privileges re: small business loans, etc. so indian american businessmen pushed to have south asians reclassified as asian american. middle eastern people are classified as white, though some middle eastern activists want to change that. the big difference is many middle eastern people are basically white (e.g., ralph nader) in public perception, while very few south asians are because we’re too dark-skinned.