About The map
Created in 2013 by the Cooper Center Demographics Research Group, the Racial Dot Map, provides an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country. The map displays 308,745,538 dots, one for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual’s race and ethnicity.
How the racial dot map makes a difference
Since its creation, the dot map has been spectacularly popular. Over the years, we have received numerous emails from people across the country, and even the world, requesting permission to include the map in a publication, asking for an image of the map to include in an exhibit or textbook, or sharing stories about how the map has played a role in the work they do. In 2020, we wanted to better understand the impact of the racial dot map, so we installed a pop-up message on the map site encouraging people to share their stories. We received over 600 testimonials from people around the country, excited to share how they have used the racial dot map. Below are a handful of the stories we received that help to tell why the racial dot map matters.
Three people tell their stories about how they have used the racial dot map to make a difference in their work and in their communities—from a former high school teacher who used it to help her students understand the why behind segregation, to a non-profit who uses it to address home vacancy and abandonment, to a political commentator who uses it to inspire change.
CREATING EQUITABLE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
“Our goal is to work with members of the legislature, the K-12 leadership... and the higher education leadership in the state to identify existing legislation that can be repealed or amended, and advocate for new legislation that might close the opportunity gaps.”“Our goal is to work with members of the legislature, the K-12 leadership... and the higher education leadership in the state to identify existing legislation that can be repealed or amended, and advocate for new legislation that might close the opportunity gaps.”
The Buckeye Association of School Administrators is using the map to increase equal opportunities in Ohio schools. They overlay the dot map on both historical maps of redlining and current maps showing opportunity gaps. Their next goal is to add school district boundaries so members of the Ohio House of Representatives can see how historical redlining, the resulting opportunity gaps, and racial/ethnic population segregation impact schools in their district, with the goal of legislative change to address the opportunity gaps.
DEVELOPING FAIR HOUSING POLICIES
ALBANY, NEW YORK
“I have regularly used the racial dot map during engagements with local governments to visualize the connection between race and disinvested neighborhoods. It is a powerful way to...impress upon our community partners the importance...of advancing equitable outcomes in tackling vacancy and abandonment."
The National Technical Assistance Center for Community Progress is helping communities address abandoned and deteriorated properties and to interrupt the cycle of disinvestment in certain communities. This organization successfully helped to create change in their home community and supports change in others. As a result of their work (and the dot map), the Albany County Land Bank launched the Equitable Ownership Program.They believe the racial dot map has proven very helpful in pushing difficult but needed conversations forward in an impactful manner.
OVERCOMING HEALTH DISPARITIES
“Race is significantly correlated with many health outcomes. Understanding segregation patterns helped me make more meaningful geographic cuts that captured those disparities.”
An actuary, doing research for Indiana’s Medicaid program, used the dot map to identify areas where populations of uninsured children were increasing. With the help of the dot map, he was able to show a surge in neighborhoods of color. With this knowledge, those overseeing the Medicaid program were better able to target their outreach efforts to help ensure more children receive adequate health care.
Promoting Equity in Patient Care
“I have used it to help promote racial equity in patient care for our hospital and community-based clinics. When we saw that clinics seem to be moving out of predominantly African-American into predominately white areas we used the map as a way to demonstrate this change and call for more equity in the way that we care for patients in the community.”
A healthcare provider in New Orleans used the racial dot map to ensure equitable distribution of their hospitals and community clinics in diverse neighborhoods. When he noticed clinics were moving out of predominantly minority areas into predominantly white neighborhoods, he paused the relocation of clinics until a full assessment could be completed. His colleagues also use the racial dot map when training medical students to highlight issues of racial equity and to show how redlining continues to impact where and how people live.
Uncovering Racial Inequities
“As a journalist who is working to uncover and explain inequities around the country, often in places I have not personally lived, it is indispensable to have an easily accessible reference point like this. I really can't count the number of times I've pulled up the Racial Dot Map in order to understand the landscape of a given town or city or region...”
A journalist used the racial dot map to identify geographic inequities in the location of COVID testing sites in Dallas and other major cities in Texas, discovering that most sites were in whiter neighborhoods. As a result, Dallas rolled out more testing sites in underserved areas. In her work as a journalist, she regularly references the racial dot map to understand segregation patterns of a given area and to highlight inequities.
Providing Services to the Underserved
Pittsburgh, PA; Durham, NC; Northeast Ohio
“America is a segregated country, but sometimes it’s Black and White (literally and metaphorically), other times it’s nuanced and complex. The map allows us to be honest about that, and teach ourselves and others about the reality on the ground.”
In communities across the U.S., the racial dot map has helped to make the case to provide resources and services to underserved populations. A library system in Durham, NC used the dot map to place more library resources and programs in minority areas; a sustainable housing company uses the map to identify “opportunity zones,” and developed community centers and housing in the Hill District in Pittsburgh, a majority Black area that has been neglected; a transportation company uses the map to ensure equity in transportation routes in Northeast Ohio; and a school in Durham, NC, after reviewing the dot map, developed satellite off-campus programming to benefit underserved community members.