Lecture #25: Color Lines, Part 1

Suggestions for Additional Reading:

Many of the maps in today's lecture are drawn from two sets of documents that are available as PDFs you can download from the Internet. Doing so would undoubtedly be helpful to illustrated a number of the themes and ideas in the notes below.

The best available recent demographic atlas is the Census Atlas of the United States (2000). You can download individual chapters in PDF format from this web page:
Many of the maps in today's lecture came from Chapter 3 on "Race and Hispanic Origin":
You should also download the equally helpful maps in Chapter 9, on "Ancestry":

For the most recent Census of 2010, you can download short PDF documents for major racial groups in the United States from this web page: http://www.census.gov/2010census/data/2010-census-briefs.php
Each of these briefs has useful maps depicting that spatial distribution of that group.

Fascinating to explore is the racial dot map of the United States, based on the 2010 Census, prepared by the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. You can access it here:
and there's more information about it here:

A powerful online mapping tool for visualizing census data can be found at this website:

The U.S. Census doesn't ask questions about religious beliefs, but you can explore the geographical distribution of different faith traditions in the privately produced U.S. Religion Census, whose website gives you tools for generating a wide range of maps:


For section this week, you'll discuss readings on zoning and the color line, and you'll also devote a lot of this section to thinking about the final exam. The final exam is a week from Wednesday in this time slot in this room; there's a review session in on Monday at 7pm in this room.

I. Patterns of Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.

I want to spend a lot of today thinking about broad distributions of race and ethnicity in the U.S. Let's start with this U.S. Census map of urban clusters. To be an urban area, the population needs to be greater than 50,000; "urban cluster" in the Census refers to areas with populations between 2,500 and 50,000. (The census has been defining "urban" almost from the start of the republic as settlements of 2,500 or above, which is good because it makes the statistical time series consistent, but most people now think of a community with 2,500 people as a pretty small town.) Compare U.S. Census maps of urban clusters with maps of United States voting patterns in the U.S. in the last four presidential elections, where we see pretty starkly the divisions between urban and rural areas. Now I want to look at 2010 map of non-White populations in the U.S., and you'll see the urban/rural map largely repeat itself. Today's lecture is about boundaries between racial groups: the landscapes and places and geographies that get categorized as "White" or "non-White." I want to notice how crude those categories are, and yet how important they have been historically. In today's lecture, we'll be looking at a lot of census maps, so you may want to download at least one of the atlases linked in the "Suggestions for Further Reading" above. I'd recommend grabbing this one and perusing its maps as you review the notes below:

Let's start by thinking about where different racial groups in the United States are concentrated—those landscapes where certain racial groups are more commonplace. I'll start by showing you maps of racial distribution. I trust that in these maps, you'll see patterns that we've talked about all semester, though we haven't necessarily called out race. Instead, we've talked about Indian Country, different imperial systems, about zoning and bounding property, about trade routes, and other landscape phenomena that shape where different groups wind up living.

Here's a map of African-Americans living in the U.S.: The Black Belt—the areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia—that in the 1820s-1840s became the Cotton Belt of the United States stands out as one cluster of African-American residents today. The U.S. South in general jumps out as a place where there is a high concentration of Black individuals, as do various northern U.S. cities.

Native-American: We can see non-black, non-white individuals in another map of the U.S., Native American and Indian, especially. On this map we see clusters of individuals in Indian Country, the reservations that were created by the U.S. government across the nineteenth century—but notice that there are a great many different tribal identities labeled with this category "Native American," which has the effect of obscuring those tribal identities. This happens with other racial categories as well: they flatten cultural differences and historical experiences in all sorts of problematic ways. This should be one of the big insights you take from this today's lecture. Notice also that large numbers of individuals who identify as Native American live off reservations in major metropolitan areas.

Latino and Hispanic peoples: again notice the erasures in this mass category, which includes New Mexican Hispanics, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, and different national groups from Central and South America. This map shows Latin@ and Hispanic individuals concentrations in areas of historic Spanish imperial settlement, and areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and California transferred to the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo. We also see concentrations of groups like Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in parts of the Northeast, and Cubans in southern Florida.

Asian: (a category that includes Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Pakistani, Vietnamese, and others … again, look at the flattening of different cultural traditions in this category derived from an entire continent whose peoples come from radically different cultures, geographies, and histories. Notice the large groups of Asians on the East and West coasts of the U.S. Notice the distinction between chloroplath maps (where an entire county is colored, even if people are gathered in just one section of the land) versus dot maps (specific dots to denote a group of, say, 3000 residents). Again, I hope the crudeness of these categories is coming through, as are the visual effects of different mapping choices.

Arab: The Census has been confused about how to describe populations of Arab descent. One of the largest groups of such individuals is located in the area around Dearborn, Michigan. The best recent census document describing the demographics and geographical distribution of Arab Americans dates back to the 2000 census:

A theme that is present throughout these maps is that they are fractal in scale: as we zoom in, the patterns of geographic difference--the non-even distribution of different racial groups-- continues to reappear. You have to zoom in pretty close to see the boundaries that these maps begin to suggest—and maps do little to tell us about the lived experiences of racial different, or the legal distinctions drawn between groups of apparent racial different. The University of Virginia's racial dot map is an excellent place to explore this phenomenon:

So I offer up these maps to help illustrate how the Census represents race in the United States. With that as our background, I want to dive into the most complicated category of all on these maps: White. What racial groups count or don't count as White has changed radically across U.S. history. "White" is much more complicated and ethnically diverse than this far too simple label seems to imply. To understand ethnicity, particularly Whiteness, one question that the Census asks is this: "Where are your ancestors from?"

Individuals who describe their ancestry as "American" have long been concentrated in the Tennessee and Kentucky area.

Individuals who describe their ancestry as English are common in New England, of course, but also concentrated in Utah—a product of the Mormon success at proselytizing in England during the second half of the nineteenth century. But notice that "Mormon" is most typically used as a religious category rather than an ethnic category, even though various religious categories (Jewishness being another example) have adherents who also think of it as an ethnic category.

Notice the conflation of class categories and racial categories: French-Canadians living in Maine are an example of this, since French-Canadians in northern New England often worked in the textile mills and were regarded as lower class and racially inferior. French is still the first language of some residents of Maine, as is also true in some parts of rural Louisiana. One of the oddities of U.S. history is that groups who were not white in the 19th century often became white during the 20th century. As those other racial histories have been erased, we lose track of the history of the nation. We begin to lose track of all the complexity of ethnic and racial groups and class hierarchies, and the ways those categories co-construct each other.

So here are some maps of Whiteness: English, German, French, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Russian. (You'll find these maps of ancestry in Chapter 9 of the 2000 Census Atlas:
These maps remind us how sources of immigration to the U.S. have changed over time. European migration was dominant in the U.S. until the 1960s. Latin American migration began to rise in the 1960s, along with parallel rises in Asian and West Indian migrations.

All of these migrations had complex historical causes. In the nineteenth century, Germans migrated in large numbers following the failed liberal revolutions of 1848, which helps in part to account for the progressive political traditions that German immigrants helped establish here in Wisconsin. The terrible potato famine in Ireland during the 1840s likewise triggered large waves of Irish migration during the mid-nineteenth century. Pogroms in Russia sent waves of Russian Jewish immigrants to the United States in the early twentieth century. And so on. Immigration links the history of the United States to the complex histories of many other parts of the world.

Where do these populations arrive? The largest port of entry on the East Coast was Ellis Island in New York Harbor, whereas the comparable entry port on the West Coast was Angel Island in San Francisco Bay (there were other smaller ports of entries in other coastal areas of the United States, but these were the two most important). Thinking in terms of landscape, it is not a coincidence that these gateway points were islands: think about the purpose of isolation and control sought by government officials in charge of monitoring immigration. Immigrants coming to Angel Island were more carefully scrutinized and regulated than those arriving at Ellis Island. Chinese immigrants were met with extreme racial resistance, particularly as Irish and working-class unions in San Francisco saw Chinese immigrants in the 19th century as competitors for jobs. With the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, all Chinese immigration to the U.S. was legally forbidden. But because Chinese immigrants had provided low-wage work in the U.S., the demand for workers of Asian descent continued—which helps explain the increase in the number of Japanese immigrants arriving at Angel Island just after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1884 was signed into law. On Angel Island, individuals were gathered together and subjected to scrutiny similar to what happened on Ellis Island. As we can see in these pictures of the bunks, sometimes the duration of waiting at Angel Island stretched on for weeks. One of the more poignant sets of historical documents from this period are poems carved in Chinese or Japanese characters into the walls of the bunks, from those waiting to be released.

II. Patterns of Race and Ethnicity in Wisconsin

Let's zoom in on Wisconsin, to return to my point about the fractal nature of racial geography. On some maps, Wisconsin looks all German; Wisconsin is a high-concentration German state relative to the U.S. itself. But that homogeneity is misleading, and we can see this when we zoom in to a county or city level within Wisconsin.

Here's an excellent collection of maps of different ethnic groups of European ancestry in the Wisconsin:
It takes a little more effort, but you can generate maps of different racial groups in Wisconsin using this website from UW-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory:
I suggest selecting the Census of 2010, the variable you want to map, and choose "Block Groups" to get the finest grained geography on your maps.

To start, there are the Indian reservations of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has more reservations than any other state East of the Mississippi. Many of the residents of these reservations were or are themselves migrants, having chosen to move or having been forced to move west from lands they had previously inhabited in the eastern part of the U.S. Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, Janesville are home to large African-American populations. Hispanic populations constitute a huge workforce at the dairies and other farming areas of Wisconsin. Asians are again concentated in Wisconsin's urban areas, as well as a sizeable Hmong population in the central part of the state. Here's a map of Wisconsin's European ancestry. The state has a very large German population, a few concentrated populations of Dutch, and scattered Scandanavian populations (the largest of which are Norwegians)—those patterns become part of Wisconsin's ethic distributions.

These different streams of German migration came out of the different parts central Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. There are clusters of Swedes in the northwest part of the state—though if we generalize that out to the Midwest, we see that Finnish place names are scattered across Wisconsin and Minnesota. Furthermore, to see the real geography of Scandinavian migration to the United States, we have to view a map that stretches from Wisconsin across Wisconsin and Minnesota and the Dakotas northward to Manitoba and Saskatchewan on the Canadian prairies (as well as in the Pacific Northwest). Some of the biggest populations of Scandanavia were driven to move to the U.S. by famine and political discontent in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s.

The largest early African or African-American population of Wisconsin was in the Milwaukee area but there were also a few smaller African American settlements in other parts of southern Wisconsin. Hispanic populations were drawn to or brought to dairy-growing areas and to farms needing to hire migrant workers.

III. The Intimacies of Racial Boundaries

Probably the most famous area where racial distribution has been studied at the micro scale of the neighborhood are in Chicago, led by the University of Chicago's sociology department, the famous "Chicago School of Sociology," which made intensive investigations to different ethnic neighborhoods of the city. A point to make about these neighborhoods: by 1930, because of migrations out of the U.S. South and because some of these neighborhoods were the only places where Blacks were allowed to live, we see a concentration of Black families on the South Side. One point to take away is the jumble of different racial groups on Jane Addams' maps of neighborhoods. Also notice that the retail areas of a city most associated with a particular ethnic group (e.g. "Chinatown") became more closely associated with particular ethnic groups in many U.S. cities than the residential areas that a heterogeneous set of ethnic groups occupied. People from many different ethnic groups often lived in a single neighborhood, so that maps that assign a given neighborhood to a single group are often quite misleading. (The one exception to this rule were African-Americans, who experienced much greater forced segregation than other groups. )

Milwaukee is the most racially segregated city in the United States. Attached to it is another interesting phenomenon: the differential concentration of policing activity in certain neighborhoods of Milwaukee. More than 40% of Wisconsin's entire prison population (in prisons scattered all across the state) comes from just two zip codes in Milwaukee.

Here's an online mapping tool that will enable you to display maps of different racial groups in Madison: http://www.apl.wisc.edu/publications/2010Census_Madison.pdf (it's large, so will take a while to download). Notice how highways isolate particular ethnic groups, in this case African-American and Latino individuals.

Mormons in the U.S. are part of both a religious tradition and an ethnic tradition. They are also part of a host of landscape changes. If you visit Salt Lake City, you'll see irrigation canals running right through the center of the city, a pheneomenon reflecting the long history of Mormons reshaping arid landscapes. You will also notice that Mormon towns in the Great Basin tend to have a temple at their center of their town plan, a design originally conceived by Joseph Smith. Many Mormon communities have an elaborate street-naming system that builds into each street name a location indicating the distance and direction to the temple at the center of the town plan.

Jews don't often show up on chloropleth maps of the United States because they're a relatively small population largely concentrated in urban areas, with by the far the largest concentrations in the Northeast, the West Coast, and Florida.

We can also look at a Census map of multiracial individuals. One of the oddities of American racism is that it doesn't take much blood to make you belong to an ethnic group of color. Here I offer you a curious example of this from historian Martha A. Sandweiss's Passing Strange. (Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (New York : Penguin Press, 2009.)

This was Clarence King, the First Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and the debunker of the Diamond Hoax whom we've already encountered in at least two lectures earlier in the semester. King died in Phoenix, Arizona on December 24, 1901. On his deathbed he revealed a secret he had told no one: in 1887 or 1888 he had married a woman named Ada Copeland, a former slave living in New York City. He had done so under the pseudonym James Todd, claiming an identity as an African-American Pullman porter. He and Copeland had five children together and his wife didn't know that her husband James was actually Clarence King until after his death. Unfortunately, Ada Copeland left almost no trace in the historical record at all, which is one of the things that makes Sandweiss's book about King and Copeland's marriage so fascinating to read: it's a master class in doing history as a form of detective work.

King and Copeland's story reveals just how intimate the color line really is, how complicatedly it runs through the lives of human beings. One of King's wealthy friends, John Hay, had underwritten Clarence King financially for the last few decades of King's life. King died a pauper. Some of Clarence and Ada's children were fair-skinned enough to pass as white, revealing the complicated boundaries of race.

So quickly, in my remaining four minutes:

Although the history of racial oppression in the United States is typically narrated as Black/White story, it is much more complicated than that. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the non-white Jewish garment workers whose crowding of New York City sidewalks in upscale shopping areas contributed to the creation of that city's first zoning law, and other such examples show the many ethnic groups that have caught up in systems of race and racial hierarchy.

Racial heirarchy and perceptions of racial difference are built into the landscape. We can see this clearly in the Supreme Court case of Euclid v. Ambler (1925). Though the Euclid v. Ambler case was decided in support of segregating land uses, U.S. District Court Judge David C. Westenhaven wrote the following about what he saw as the potential long-term implications of the case:

“It is equally apparent that the next step in the exercise of this police power would be to apply similar restrictions for the purpose of segregating in like manner various groups of newly arrived immigrants. The blighting of property values and the congestion of population, whenever the colored or certain foreign races invade a residential section, are so well known as to be within judicial cognizance.”

That is: Justice Westenehaven saw zoning as a tool likely to be applied to segregate races, and suggested that the courts would want to be aware of such implications. One place that racial segregation happened in the wake of Euclid v. Ambler was in the case of mortgage maps made during the 1930s by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), a government-sponsored corporation created as part of the New Deal in 1933. HOLC created maps of every major city of the U.S. where supposedly "blighted areas" where a bank might not give a mortgage or loan were outlined in red—often coinciding with heavily immigrant or non-White neighborhoods. The consequence was that people living in those neighborhoods had much more trouble obtaining loans, further depressing property values in such neighborhoods.

If you're interested in exploring the original HOLC maps for cities you know, you can access them at this remarkable website put together by the University of Richmond (the same folks who so helpfully made Paullin's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States available for your use):

Watching racial categorizations get inscribed or reinforced on the landscape reminds us that history matters. As William Faulkner famously remarked in his Requiem for a Nun, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." History keeps happening, and is all around us.