No one likes to admit it, but name any major city in America and you can find which major street divides it racially.
ArcGIS created a race point map, which uses census data to map every person in America based on where they live and what race they claim.
“There are these kind of dividing lines all over the country, in every major city,” said Rashad Shabazz, a professor at Arizona State University. “The racial geography of the country that manifests in these dot maps was created a century ago. And the purpose was to make sure that, you know, black people and other people of color were maintained in certain areas. ”
The term “redlining” refers to how the US government once used housing maps to segregate who could live in certain areas. These maps haven’t been applied for decades, but they still correspond to 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 predominantly black south side from the predominantly white north side. In Cleveland, it’s the Cuyahoga River. In Buffalo, it’s Main Street.
More integrated cities are like Port St. Lucie, Florida. If you look at the map, dots of all colors – that is, people of all races – are scattered throughout the city.
“It’s nothing to see a mixed couple. I mean, you often see kids playing together who are white, black, Hispanic,” said Chauncelor Howell, president of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce. “And I think that’s great.”
But most cities don’t look like Port St. Lucie. In most cities, lines rooted in the past, apparent in the present, show how all of our individual dots are more connected than we realize.
“Public policy is going to have to get us out of this because it’s not something that a few individuals or being nice is going to turn around. It was made possible by public policy. And the only thing that’s going to change is the public policy,” Shabazz said.