Racial Profile of the U.S.

GEOGRAPHY

This map is an American snapshot; it provides an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country. (Fast Company)

Use our resources to start learning about spatial thinking and data visualization.

Image Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Dustin A. Cable, creator)

Click to enlarge, and click here for an even closer view!
Image Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Dustin A. Cable, creator)

Discussion Ideas

 

 

 

 

 

  • What does each dot on the map represent?
    • Each dot represents a single person. There are more than 300 million dots on the map, representing more than 300 million people living in the United States.
    • The color of each dot represents the race of the person. Racial identification was self-reported in the 2010 U.S. Census.

 

 

  • How might the demographics on this map be useful? Read through our activity “Introduction to GIS” for some guidance.
    • In general, data visualization helps identify patterns and relationships among data.
    • The demographer in the video offers some suggestions: urban planning for schools, transportation needs, housing, and construction.

 

  • Compare the U.S. Racial Dot Map with the U.K. Ethnicity Map, which was built using the same code. What are some similarities? What are some differences?
    • Similarities:
      • Population density in both countries seems to be weighed to the east.
      • Both nations have a plurality of people reporting their race or ethnicity as white.
      • Both nations have large Asian populations.
    • Differences:
      • The racial or ethnic categories are slightly different: The U.S. identifies white, black, Asian, Hispanic, and a general category for others. The U.K. identifies white, black, Asian, mixed-race, and a general category for others.

 

  • What might be some limitations to this beautiful dot density map?
    • The data on this map does not represent the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and economic diversity within each race. (Racial demographics are complex. There is almost always more intra-group diversity than inter-group diversity.)
      • The “Asian” populations grouped together as red dots, for example, may include Indian, Chinese, and Iranian communities; speakers of Japanese, Hmong, and Farsi; wealthy visa-holders, middle-class migrants, and poverty-stricken refugees.

 

  • What data would YOU like to see on this map? How would you visualize it?
    • For example: Where are veterans living? This should be a fairly straightforward, federally available demographic to represent in a dot density map. Here are some fascinating data visualizations (from POV and Washington Post) that track veteran populations using choropleth maps, which use colors or patterns to represent types or intensity of data.

 

  • Can you find YOUR dot on the map? Here’s my hometown. Hi, Mom!
Click here for an even closer view! Image Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Dustin A. Cable, creator)

Image Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Dustin A. Cable, creator)

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia: The Racial Dot Map

Nat Geo: Map Skills for Elementary Students

Nat Geo: Data Artist: Jer Thorp

Yes, technically this isn’t a current event—it uses four-year-old data in a year-and-a-half-old map. It’s still a great, relevant timesink.

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