Thursday, August 22, 2013

Houston is a very segregated city

Two quick thoughts about this interactive Racial Dot Map of the 2010 Census that was created by the University of Virginia:

1. It's pretty damn impressive. There are over 308 million dots on this map, representing each person who answered the 2010 Census. Emily Badger of The Atlantic Cities calls this map "strangely beautiful" and notes that it is "staggering both visually and statistically." She's right. The one-dot-per-person map shows settlement patterns, density and race distribution in stunning clarity:
2. Houston is not quite the "melting pot" we like to think ourselves to be. Sure, Houston is ethnically diverse, with no one race comprising a majority of the city's population, and considerable diversity in communities outside of the city's limits. But zoom in, and you'll see a great deal of segregation within the metropolitan area: whites are blue, African-Americans are green, Hispanics are orange and Asians are red. At this scale, the city seems broken up into a "pinwheel" of sectors, each with its own dominant ethnicity. There are some areas of town that are fairly well-integrated, for example the wedge on the west side of town between the Westpark Tollway and US 59, but by and large the Houston region is comprised of a series of racially-segregated neighborhoods.

To be sure, most of urban America is like this; as Badger notes, "many of those metro areas look purple from a distance until [...] you zoom in closer and colors break apart. The city is diverse from a distance, but quite segregated at the neighborhood and even block level."

In other words, even in supposedly "post-racial" 2010, we generally tended to live in places were people who look like us live.

Anyway, click on the link at the top of this post and play with the map yourself. It's quite fascinating.

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