If you haven’t heard of racial dot map projects, you’re missing out. A few years ago, Brandon Martin-Higgins at the MIT Media Lab, along with a friend who created social media dot maps (Eric Fischer), came up with the idea to show a selection of major American cities with a colored dot showing symbolizing every single person (based on US census blocks). The dot was colored based on the self-reported racial statistics by the 2010 census. The map illustrated how racially segregated America’s major cities remain, despite decades of “progress” in the many areas that created those invisible boundaries to begin with (red-lining/distracting, predatory and racist lending practices, renting vs home ownership, accessibility, mobility, etc).
The data is now accessible for the entire country through the University of Virginia’s Demographic Research Group here. You can also learn more about the US government conducts the census, the accuracy of its statistics, and the geographic definitions here.
Browsing some of the cities – notably New Orleans, Detroit, and NYC – you get an immediate and powerful impression that we live in entirely different America’s in nearly every metropolitan area in this country.
There are notable exceptions, of course. Parts of Seattle and Sacramento have become increasingly diverse and Portland, Oregon is about as racially integrated as a major U.S. city gets. No, not all west-coast cities are making progress- just take a look at San Francisco and Los Angeles.
At any rate, even though the data is out there and has been out there for a long time, it’s still impressive how a large-format poster (say, 42″ tall by 60″ wide) placed center on an office wall can draw attention and start debate. So I put a few together of some of Florida’s major urban areas. Feel free to share, print, post, etc.