NewsCovering America

Actions

Government data shows most big cities remain racially segregated

Screen Shot 2022-08-11 at 12.02.40 PM.png
Posted at 9:05 AM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 13:01:01-04

No one likes to admit it but name a large city in America and you can find what main street racially divides it.   

ArcGIS created a Racial Dot Map, which uses census data to chart every person in America based on the place they live and the race they claim. 

"There are these kinds of dividing lines all over the nation, in every single major city," said Rashad Shabazz, a professor at Arizona State University. "The racial geography of the country that's manifest in those dot maps were created a century ago. And the point was to ensure that, you know, Black people and other people of color were kept in certain areas." 

The term "redlining" refers to how the U.S. government once used housing maps to segregate who could live in certain areas. Those maps haven't been applied for decades, but they still match who lives where today in many cities. In the most segregated cities, the dividing lines are clear.  

In Detroit, the famous 8 Mile Road separates the mostly Black south side from the mostly white north side. In Cleveland, it's the Cuyahoga River. In Buffalo, it's Main Street. 

More integrated cities look like Port St. Lucie, Florida. If you look at the map, dots of all colors – meaning people of all races – are interspersed throughout the city.  

"It's nothing to see a mixed couple. I mean, you often see kids playing together who are white, black, Hispanic," Chauncelor Howell, president of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce, said. "And I think that's great."

But most cities don't look like Port St. Lucie. In most cities, the lines rooted in the past, apparent in the present, show how all our individual dots are more connected than we might think.  

"Public policy is going to have to get us out of this because this isn't something that a few individuals or being nice is going to transform. This was enabled through public policy. And the only thing that's going to change is public policy," Shabazz said.