Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
A lot of different groups and people are making use of the map of race in America, based on the US 2010 census. Many are noticing that while we’re far less segregated than we were 50 years ago, too often, cities have clear and stark enclaves of single-race groups.
So how does Lowell fare? I decided to take a map of streets and voting precincts and try to match it up as best I could to a screenshot of the race map. (The result is pretty well lined up, but may not be exact.) Click the image to get a very large resolution - 3000 pixels - though the dots will be pixelized since I used a screenshot of the dot data (it still works to give you an idea of the makeup of the neighborhoods).
The obvious first observation to make is with Belvidere, the western parts of the Upper Highlands, and Christian Hill/Pawtucketville, where whites (blue dots) are pretty dominant. Basically, the “outside” of the city (and also a portion of JAM/downtown) are white. It’s like white flight, in miniature…people are staying in the city, but moving to where there is more space/single family neighborhoods. If we were truly better integrated as a society (not just as Lowellians), the number of Hispanics, Asians and blacks would, proportionately, be able to afford the aforementioned affluent neighborhoods. We should see more mixed dots in Belvidere. This is, of course, less a condemnation of Lowell, and more a condemnation of our nation and its inability to address poverty and the lack of equal opportunity for minorities.
The fact that you can see some mixed dots even in the bluest parts of the city, particularly the red dots of Asians, speaks well of Lowell, if only compared to some of the other race data maps of cities in the US I’ve seen.
There are certainly a lot of very mixed neighborhoods, as well. Precincts 10-1, 2 and 3, 11-1, and 5-1 seem to have areas of high integration, my neighborhood included. (This reflects my experience in my neighborhood.) I think part of this is the affordability of these neighborhoods - houses in several of these locations are in “decent” neighborhoods but not overly expensive. I have pretty diverse neighbors, mostly in single or owner-occupied two-family homes. Do we integrate well? Not as well as I’d hope. Of course, my neighborhood doesn’t really have a neighborhood group truly representing it, so I’d be hard pressed to say whether or not such a group would have a proportionate representation of the ethnic diversity of my neighbors.
Then there is also, of course, the Acre, the Lower Highlands, and other enclaves of minorities. Concentrated in what I like to call the “transient” areas of the city (ie, largely rental units), Hispanics (yellow dots) dominate Moody Street almost exclusively, and are found around the borders between Precincts 5-2, 9-1, and 9-2, and also in some of Back Central and Lower Belvidere.
Again, I think this speaks to a much larger issue of inequity than can be simply addressed by our own city; minorities are behind whites in unemployment numbers, pay scale and other measures of economic wealth across the entire nation, and we should address those issues as a whole country. I think it’s also true that immigrants coming to the US, be they Hispanic, African, Middle Eastern, Asian, or other ethnicities often wind up in these enclaves where there is affordable rental housing. You’ll note that our Asian population, peopled by a large number of Cambodian-Americans who have been here for two, three, or more generations, have long since begun their migration out of the center of the city into the more open, single family, ownership neighborhoods.
Those are only simple observations I’ve made on the mostly macro level. I’m sure readers will be able to take a look at this and comment further on it. Hope this is useful to you!
Update: Check out this post by Dick which talks about the Cambodian makeup of the electorate!
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