The Racial Dot Map represents every person--all 308,745,538 of us--in the United States. Here, the dense population masses of New York and New Jersey.

The map was initially inspired by the black-and-white population map created at the MIT Media Lab.

The colored data on the east coast spotlight a decades-old city-versus-suburbs trend: black communities in urban centers, with a larger white population on the outskirts.

The Bay Area, where racial integration makes for a pastel crayon effect.

Patterns on the map can be misleading. From a panoramic view, it would be easy to think the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population is white. But a closer look into cities and neighborhoods can overturn the easy categorization.

Here, it’s clear how racially segregated Chicago is. Strict blocks of color radiate westward from Lake Michigan.


Southern California.

This is us, as seen from space. Notice Alaska is barely visible.

Here, Washington D.C. Read more about the Racial Dot Map here.

Infographic: A Map Of Racial Segregation In America

A pointillism map of every person in the country makes U.S. Census data look like a watercolor painting.

This map has exactly 308,745,538 dots. It’s a painstakingly specific number, taken from the 2010 U.S. Census. While the ebb and flow of populations means that exact number is different today, the insanely meticulous idea holds up. Every single one of us—categorized by race—is represented as less than a mini-pixel, in a layered composition that creates the softly smudged patterns of color seen here.

Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service created the Racial Dot Map, drawing his initial inspiration from a black-and-white population map made by the MIT Media Lab.

Both maps elegantly show the clusters of activity around urban centers, which do a spidery fade into white once you leave the big eastern cities and before you get to California. But Cable’s map incorporates the race of each person, a layer of data that grows all the more riveting as you zoom in. On the map, the white population is represented in blue, African-Americans are seen in green, Asians in red, Hispanics in orange, with all other categories coded as brown. The infographic makes the racial segregation of certain parts unmistakable—Chicago is a clear example, where strict blocks of color radiate westward from Lake Michigan. In other regions, like the Bay Area or New York, neighborhoods begins to look like pastel crayon sketches. "The blending of colors in integrated regions added another visual dimension I wasn’t expecting," Cable tells Co.Design.

But even in the zones seemingly easy to categorize as homogenous or mixed, a closer look can surprisingly overturn the information. As the map’s website points out, a dense mass of purple or teal may appear to show a predominantly white city. But if you zoom in on, say, Minneapolis, distinct pockets of Asian, black, and white communities start to materialize. "The nice thing about this map is that it elegantly, and beautifully, conveys a lot of demographic data in a small space."

Read more about the Racial Dot Map here.

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