What to make of those “racial segregation” maps?

I expect you have seen the maps which depict the placement of ethnic/cultural groups in major U.S. cities. What are we to make of these maps?

Here is the map of “New York” city, perhaps the most “segregated”, with caption from the article.

This map, created by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, is the most comprehensive representation of racial distribution in America ever made. Here: New York City. Image: Dustin Cable White: blue dots; African American: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown

The most interesting one to me is DETROIT:

Here are some generalizations I think are true for the most part.

  1. People move to (or stay) where their friends are; where their surroundings are familiar; where they can afford a domicile.
  2. People move to better neighborhoods when they can afford to; they move to less desirable neighborhoods when necessary.
  3. City planning sometimes forcefully evicts people from the place they have been and wanted to stay, and fails to provide compensation or viable alternatives.
  4. Individual opportunity for improvement often/normally takes precedence over staying located within the community, even among those whose culture is communalistic.
  5. Prejudice is a factor in preserving economic disparity in many cases.
  6. Tweet This  Stereotypes persist, in part, because we do not personally know people of other ethnicities/cultures.
  7. People vote selfishly, not communally.
  8. Politicians legislate selfishly, not communally.
  9. We would be enriched by closer proximity and more frequent interaction with those whose ethnicity/culture differs from our own.
  10. Having integrated cities and neighborhoods is no guarantee of more interaction.
    Tweet This Unless people are intentional, interaction does not happen even in an integrated neighborhood.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I now conclude with this conviction:

We who, in spite of our wretched unworthiness, have been reconciled to God by our gracious Redeemer, who has broken down dividing walls and created one body through the cross, have both the indwelling power and the compelling obligation to live differently than the self-advancing pursuits of others. Our greater challenge is not to change the maps, but to change our hearts.

Tweet This  Our greater challenge is not to change the segregation maps, but to change our Christ-redeemed hearts.


Links to the Wired article on these maps, and the interactive Racial Dot Map. (accessed 8/31/2015)


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