Helping Hands – Baltimore Magazine
Life, death and demolition – The Washington Post
We’ve featured other data visualization maps on Baltimore Fishbowl, and even other data visualization maps that depict segregation. But none have been quite so, well, beautiful as the racial dot map put together by demographer Dustin Cable.
In Cable’s map, each point represents an individual person. Yes, that means that there’s a tiny dot somewhere on this map that stands for you. Of course, the overall picture is more like a impressionist painting, fuzzy around the edges and distinct only when you look up close. Zooming in allows an increasingly precise look at where people live in and around the city: from a distance, Baltimore clearly reveals itself as a majority-black city, with majority-white outposts extending to the north. But a closer look complicates things:
We’ve talked about Baltimore’s segregation problem here before, but there’s something about seeing a simple visual representation, as in the map above (by Eric Fischer, via Business Insider), that lays bare the geographic divisions that dominate our city. [The red dots show white people, blue is black, orange is Hispanic, green is Asian, and yellow is other, according to 2010 census data.]
If you’re a data nerd, you could get lost in the New York Times data maps of the 2010 census information. Sometimes a good map can reveal information more vividly and directly than a paragraph of text — take, for instance, the image showing the change in median household income over the past decade. It’s a clear picture on the block-by-block level of which neighborhoods are winning (Hampden; Charles Village), and which are collapsing (Remington, Waverly, Reservoir Hill). But that’s not the whole story.
A group of economists who’ve been studying racial segregation for decades released a report on Monday trumpeting “The End of the Segregated Century.” After poring over census results, the researchers concluded that our cities are more integrated than ever before; that all-white neighborhoods “are effectively extinct,” and that there is significantly less housing discrimination than fifty years ago.
The cities showing the greatest decline in segregation were those with large Latino populations, including Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles. On the whole, Rust Belt cities (Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis) saw a lesser decline in segregation. Baltimore was somewhere in the middle. While Dallas’s “dissimiarity index” (which measures how many people live near people of the same race) declined by nearly 40 points since 1970, Baltimore’s dipped by less than 20 points.
But that’s not to say that segregation is no longer a problem. Critics of the study point out that “the average black resident still lives in a neighborhood that is 45 percent black and 36 percent white. At the same time, the average white lives in a neighborhood that is 78 percent white and 7 percent black. Black segregation levels are even higher for children, signaling the continued separation of black and white families across communities with different levels of resources available for schools and other services important for nurturing the next generation.” In other words, we still have a long way to go.
One last surprising finding from the study: Suburbs are often more integrated than cities.
Okay, so you should still quit smoking… but if you absolutely refuse, here’s some good news for you: Johns Hopkins researchers have found a drug that may work to shield the lungs from damage caused by smoking. The drug, Iosartan (brand name Cozaar), which is commonly used to treat hypertension, “improved or prevented lung tissue breakdown, airway wall thickening, inflammation, and lung overexpansion associated with two months of exposure to cigarette smoke” — in mice. That’s not to say that it’ll necessarily prevent the most serious consequences of smoking in humans, but it’s a decent bet. The medicine’s reparative effects could help with symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, and mucus production. It’s also already been approved by the FDA; expect more tests of its possible human effectiveness shortly.
The U.S. Census provides sociologists with lots of juicy data to parse, which is exactly what Hopkins prof Pamela Bennett has done. Drawing conclusions from where people call home (a decent approximation for social status), Bennett concludes that in terms of social hierarchy, mixed-race Americans rank below whites but above blacks. She also found that segregation is lower among people with both black and white heritage, compared to those with fully black ancestry; in contrast, people of Asian-white or American Indian-white heritage show higher markers of segregation. “While some scholars and activists view official recognition of multiracial identities as a movement toward the deconstruction of race, I caution against such an optimistic narrative for now,” Bennett says.
What happens when Baltimore talks about race? City mom Edit Barry finds out when she calls Dr. Raymond Winbush — director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and author of The Warrior Method: Raising Self-Reliant Black Men — to discuss the failure of integration and the future of Baltimore City Public Schools.
If you look at a map of Baltimore neighborhoods by race, you’ve got what looks like a white puff of smoke splitting the city in half. The divisions are so clear here. There was an attempt to integrate the schools, but the result of it was to further segregate them.
To desegregate Baltimore City Public Schools sounds good. It sounds wonderful! Is that ever gonna happen? I doubt it, unless we find whites moving back to Baltimore in droves.
There are new parents living in the city now — highly educated ‘white’ parents making a middle class living — who need public schools. What should they be mindful of — as outsiders?
The thing is this (laughs) — it’s like the privilege of being white in America, and Baltimore is no different, is that white people don’t have to think about the interests of black people in anything.
But what if they want to?
I’m not sure there are a lot that want to. There are some who do. But they’re definitely in a minority. But listen. Flip it around. See, as a black male in America, I — and when I say ‘I’ I mean ‘black people’ — we have to understand white America. We do! The problem is that whites don’t have to know anything about black America and they could still be quite ‘successful.’ Whites don’t have to deal with people of color.
But we do. In this city, we do.
You do and you don’t. I pick up certain magazines and newspapers and if I were a proverbial man from Mars I could flip through some of the publications in Baltimore — I’m not gonna name any, but you know some of ’em — and I would say, ‘God. There’s no black people living in this city.’ It’s almost like we say, ‘We’re just going to ignore the fact that this city is 70 percent black, another, what — we’re not sure now — 10 to 15 percent Latino, Asian and then white. You know, we’re gonna ignore it. We’re gonna pretend.’ We don’t wanna deal with it.
But I want to deal with it.
You sound very sincere. Look, you’re dealing with it when you’re talking to me, by the fact that you attended the Enoch Pratt thing, and as I’ve said to well meaning whites around this world, what you’ve gotta do, you’ve got to make an effort to understand people of color. White people who wanna understand, deal with black people — they’ve gotta go out of their way.
You know the charter school City Neighbors?
When they talk about themselves on their website, they say something like, ‘We wanted a school where middle class and poor and rich and white and black students could come together in a community and learn together.’
It’s a liberal ideal.
It is. And I think it should be mandatory, and I’ve said this publicly, that teachers, students, and parents engage at least four times a year in an open, honest dialogue about race the way you and I are doing it right now. That should be built into public school systems around this country. In Baltimore, particularly. We have got to talk about his stuff.
So how can parents go for that ideal in their neighborhood public school rather than starting a charter school?
You’ve gotta be subversive. You’ve got to infiltrate the school board. Well meaning white teachers, well meaning white people, have to push the issue to school officials to do that stuff. And it can be done. But, see, they won’t listen to the black community. White parents have to get–
Let’s include under ‘white,’ like, Korean…you know–
Yeah, I’m talkin’ about Asian, blacks, I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a coalition in Baltimore called PARE — Parents Advocating Racial Equality — and it would be like a multicultural coalition of parents, teachers, students, advocating at school board meetings for a more just education system where everybody can learn from everybody else? I think that takes subversive activity just like Occupy Wall Street.
What if right now in Hampden you got 30 white people together to go down to North Avenue and say, ‘We want a more fair and balanced’ — I don’t wanna sound like Fox News, but — ‘we want a more fair and balanced class and race school system in America and we’re gonna sit in the lobby of the North Avenue building until it happens.’ Whites ain’t willing to do that.
I think we want to change things, but I don’t know if that’s the way to go.
So how do you think we should change it?
I think we need, first of all, to get more middle class parents to consider the public schools. The narrative is so ingrained now of you buy your starter home in the city, put your house on the market when your kid turns four, and either move to the county or send your child to one of the private schools. And you can get financial aid to do that.
Well, it is never gonna happen. That’s the cement. We’re never gonna crack it.
I have to believe we can do it. Parents are organizing themselves to do it. Roland Park Elementary wasn’t the school that it is now except for a group of parents who got together and started sending their kids there. Now you have people lying about where they live so they can send their kids to that school. The change has to happen on a more personal level.
I think it can. But that’s not the only way. It’s a good way. It’s a more peaceful way, but–
You’re more radical.
Yeah, I am. I tend to be attracted to revolutionary movements. How do movements begin? Usually it is an individual saying, I am just fed up with this stuff and I’m going to do something about it. They garner the public’s eye and then people say, that’s what I feel, I wanna join that.
I think your dialogue and organizing is very, very critical. But you’re going to have to get to a point where you say, okay, now that these parents see the value of a public school education the way they do in Roland Park, we’ve got to do something more systemwide — and that’s when the rubber meets the road. I just try to get to that point as quick as I can, that’s all.