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by inoljt

Brazil and America

3:12 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

One of the more fascinating television features produced is the PBS series “Black in Latin America.” This series, produced by Professor Robert Gates, explores (perhaps unsurprisingly) the experience of people of African descent in America.

An especially interesting episode is titled Brazil: A Racial Paradise? Professor Gates explores the experience of “blacks” in Brazil, a country with second-largest population of African descent in the world (including Africa).

Now, before viewing this series I’d been very aware that Brazil is not in fact a racial paradise. There is a very clean correlation between the color of one’s skin and one’s economic status. The rich and the elite of Brazil are all white; the poor and working class of Brazil are all black.

Unsurprisingly, Gates finds something very similar in Brazil. He states that:

When I landed in Brazil, I first went to Bahia. And I thought this Brazil is the land of the brown people. But when I go to hotels, restaurants, look at magazines, there’s no black people. [laughter] Me, I’m the only black person when I go to the hotels I look like.

You, because of your social standing, because of the places you are able to visit in Bahia, there will be many places where you will be the only black man, and you could still be badly treated.

Gates visits a Brazilian favelas – The City of God. There, talking with a resident of the favela, the following conversation occurs:

When you look around the wealthier parts of Rio, you can’t help but wonder if anything really has changed. Very few black faces here…

You feel the presence of Afro-Brazilians most in the poorest neighborhoods of Rio…

Up to the point that Gates said this, I had been feeling somewhat superior. The United States certainly has racism, but it isn’t as bad as Brazil. There is, for instance, a strong black presence in America’s political system – something which Brazil lacks.

But these words provided something of an epiphany. We have this in America too! When you look at the wealthier parts of the United States, you see very few black and Hispanic faces. You feel the presence of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans most in the poorest neighborhoods of America.

The vast majority of heavily black and Hispanic communities in America are poor. In fact, you can count on one hand the number of zip codes which are middle-class and heavily black. Middle-class whites actually feel scared when they go to a place in which the majority of people are black or Hispanic.

Something really terrible must have happened in a country in which this is true. Something is fundamentally crooked in a country like that.

by inoljt

Political Party and the Demographics of America’s Governors

4:01 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

The previous post examined “the demographics of America’s governors and compare[d] them to the demographics of America itself.”

It resulted in the following map:

This post will examine the party break-down of this.


Currently twenty out of the fifty states have Democratic governors, twenty-nine out of the fifty states have Republican governors, and one state has an Independent governor:

Let’s first look at gender. Out of the twenty Democratic governors, eighteen are male and two are female. These are Governor Beverly Purdue of North Carolina and Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington.

Out of the twenty-nine Republican governors, twenty-five are male and four are female. These are Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

10% of Democratic governors are female while 13.8% of Republican governors are female.

Now let’s move to race. Out of the twenty Democratic governors, nineteen are white and one is black. This is Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.

Out of the twenty-nine Republican governors, twenty-five are white, two are Hispanic, and two are South Asian. These are Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Governor Brian Sandavol of Nevada, Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

5% of Democratic governors are minorities while 13.8% of Republican governors are minorities.


A Republican governor is marginally more likely to be a woman, and about 2.8 times more likely to be a minority, than a Democratic governor.

A lot of flak gets thrown at the Republican Party for being less friendly to women and minorities. Some of the criticism is valid and some is not. A Democrat might volunteer that their party is more friendly to woman and minorities by pointing to the higher number of Democratic woman and minority officeholders in the House of Representatives, state legislative offices, and the presidency.

Nevertheless, it appears that the Republican Party does a better job at promoting minorities and woman at the governor’s level, as of October 2011, than the Democratic Party.


by inoljt

The Demographics of America’s Governors

11:34 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

This post will look at the demographics of America’s governors and compare them to the demographics of America itself. It will specifically examine gender and race, which are easy to determine. I would add other factors, such as income, age, or area of birth – but these factors are a lot harder to find and work with.

A future post will examine how political party plays into this.


 About half of Americans are male, and about half of Americans are female. Most of America’s governors, on the other hand, are male:

Out of the fifty governors in the United States, 44 are male and 6 are female as of October 8th, 2011. In other words, 88% of governors (about every nine out of ten) in the United States are currently males.


Race is a bit more complicated than gender. According to the 2010 Census, 63.7% of Americans are white – which means that 36.3% of Americans are not white.

The majority of America is white, and similarly the majority of America’s governors are white:

Out of the fifty governors in the United States, 45 are white and 5 are minorities as of October 8th, 2011. Exactly nine out of ten governors in America is white.

Gender and Race

We can combine these two sets of data to get a map of America’s governors by both gender and race:

 Out of the fifty governors in the United States, 41 are white males, 4 are white females, 3 are none-white males, and 2 are non-white females as of October 8th, 2011. White males overachieve quite splendidly; despite being less than one-third of the overall population, they compose more than four out of five of America’s governors. 82% of America’s governors are white males.


America is a very diverse place.

Its governors, on the other hand…not so much.


by inoljt

Packing Native Americans

3:20 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the last part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and whites.

Packing Native Americans

Alone out of all the ethnicities examined, there are not enough Native Americans in the United States to form a majority Native American congressional district. Indeed, Native Americans compose a mere 0.9% of America’s total population.

Native American living patterns tend to be extremely segregated. Native American reservations tend to be 90-100% Native American; outside the reservation their numbers drop to nearly zero. There are not enough reservations in any state to make a congressional district merely by joining together all the reservations.

The five states with the highest percentage of Native Americans are Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and finally Montana. Unfortunately, all these states - with the exception of Oklahoma - have extremely small population sizes. This makes it very difficult to pack Native Americans. Oklahoma is the exception, but its Native American population is too integrated to effectively pack.

As it turns out, the most Native American district possible is found in Arizona. Take a look at Arizona’s racial demographics. Native Americans are black in this picture (so the darker-colored precincts tend to be more Native American).

From this, it is possible to draw this district:

This is a 26.9% Native American district. There are in fact more Native Americans in this district than Hispanics.

The district goes into several cities which have respectable Native American populations. Here is Flagstaff:

This city, located in northern Arizona, has enough Native Americans that the entire city was put into the district.

Here is Phoenix:

Phoenix is the key to this district. Surprisingly, it has a decent Native American population. It also composes more than half of Arizona’s population. Phoenix thus provides the population padding necessary to create this district.

Finally, here is Tucson:

Overall, this district is quite liberal; it gave President Barack Obama 58.9% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election. Given the fact that Arizona is both a fairly conservative state and Senator John McCain’s home state at the same time, this is quite a good performance for the Democrats. It is all the more impressive considering that the district is barely one-fourth Hispanic.

It does appear that Native Americans voted Democratic, in Arizona at least. But there may be another factor at work here. In many of the Phoenix precincts Native Americans were less than 10% of the population; their voting power was not very great. Nor was the Hispanic population especially great, and Hispanics were certainly not a majority of the electorate. Yet these precincts still voted fairly Democratic. It may be – and this is just a hypothesis – that Native Americans tend to live in areas in which white voters are more liberal.


by inoljt

Packing Asians

12:27 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the third part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and whites.

Packing Asians

The previous post created two extremely Hispanic districts: a 93.2% Hispanic district in the heart of Miami, and a 96.5% Hispanic district in South Texas.

It is nowhere near possible to do anything similar regarding Asians. Asians compose only 4.8% of America’s population, while Hispanics are 16.3%.

The vast majority of Asians live in communities that are majority non-Asian. There do exist areas with high Asian populations; New York City is one example, as is Middlesex County in New Jersey.

Hawaii is the state with the highest percentage of Asians. However, Hawaii only holds enough population for two congressional districts, and the state’s population is too integrated to effectively pack Asians.

The real action is in California. Millions of Asians live in Southern California, especially the San Gabriel Valley.

But the density of Asians is greatest in the San Francisco Bay Area. Indeed, one’s strategy for packing Asians is somewhat similar to one’s strategy for packing blacks. There is only one place in America you look at when trying to create the blackest district possible, and that place is Chicago. The same holds true for Asians. One unquestionably must go to the Bay Area to create the most Asian district possible; there is no alternative.

Here is the district:

This is a 64.6% Asian district. It reaches throughout the San Francisco Bay Area to take in the most Asian areas, disregarding all manner of compactness and communities of interest. Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

“How Puerto Rico Became White”

11:57 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

In 1899, when Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States, Census figures indicated that 61.8% of Puerto Ricans identified as white. By the 2000 Census, however, 80.5% of Puerto Ricans identified as white. In other words, more than four out of five Puerto Ricans were white in 2000.

How did this happen?

There are three possibilities. The first two involve demographic changes. Large amounts of immigration or emigration could have altered the racial balance. Alternatively, life might have been so hard for non-whites that the relative survival rates of whites and non-whites would have been so drastically different as to also alter the racial balance.

A study titled “How Puerto Rico Became White”, by Mara Loveman and Jeronimo Muniz, rejects both these possibilities. Life was and is indeed harder for non-whites in Puerto Rico, but not enough that non-whites were dying at the extreme rates needed to change the racial balance. Puerto Rico also had relatively little immigration throughout the 20th century. Large numbers of emigrants have indeed gone to the United States, on the other hand. Of these emigrants, a far higher share identifies as non-white.

Perhaps this would explain Puerto Rico’s whitening. Or perhaps the higher share of Puerto Ricans living in America identifying as non-white is due to the third possibility: culture. That is, the definition of white shifted to being more inclusive in Puerto Rico. This would allow more people to claim the advantages of whiteness.

The study agrees with this last explanation:

…whitening was not the demographic process that both its advocates and its critics tended to assume. It appears that whitening resulted, instead, from a change in the social definition of whiteness itself. The boundary of whiteness in Puerto Rican society shifted during the first half of the twentieth century, and especially in the decade from 1910-1920. Individuals who were seen to be on one side of the racial boundary in 1910 found themselves on the other side in 1920. This suggests that the story of how Puerto Rico became white may be as much or more a story of racial boundaries migrating over individuals as it is a story of individuals crossing over racial boundaries.

Loveman and Muniz also describe Puerto Rico has having an inverted one-drop rule. While in the United States a drop of non-white blood is (sometimes) sufficient for an individual to not be considered white, in Puerto Rico the opposite occurred. One drop of white ancestry was all that was needed for one to be considered white:

…the specific terms used to describe this one drop rule shifted slightly from 1910 to 1920. Instead of alerting census-takers to be on the lookout for mulattos as “impure blacks” with any trace of black blood (i.e. individuals who were not “really white”), the instructions for Puerto Rican census-takers in 1920 cued census-takers to be on the lookout for mulattos as “impure blacks” with any trace of white blood (i.e. individuals who were not “really black”). The shift in the 1920 enumerator instructions in Puerto Rico, subtle as it was, created more wiggle room in the application of the one drop rule than was possible in the previous census. In both cases, race was construed to be determined by “blood.” But whereas in 1910, any trace of “black blood” was sufficient to keep an individual from being categorized as “white”, in 1920, any trace of “white blood” was sufficient to keep an individual from being categorized as “black.”

There is one final, and quite interesting note, about all this. In the 2010 Census the percentage of Puerto Ricans identifying as white dropped for the first time in more than a century. Whites decreased from 80.5% of the population to 75.8%. Whether this is due to actual demographic shifts (i.e. mostly white emigrants leaving to the United States), or a change in culture, is difficult to discern. It will be quite interesting to examine, in the future 2020 Census, whether this trend continues.


by inoljt

Packing Hispanics

11:32 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the second part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed congressional districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Native Americans, and whites.

Packing Hispanics

The previous post created a 94.8% black congressional district, carved out of Chicago.

Chicago is probably the only place in America where such a district can be created. Only Chicago has sufficient numbers of blacks and sufficient levels of segregation.

This is not true for Hispanics. It is a lot easier to pack Hispanics. This because there are simply more Hispanics than blacks in the United States.

Hispanic living patterns are also rather different than black living patterns. There are often sharp lines between black and non-black neighborhoods; one can cross a street and suddenly go from an 80% white neighborhood to an 80% black one. This makes it easy to draw a 90%-black district – at least until the 90% black precincts run out.

Hispanic neighborhoods, on the other hand, tend to become Hispanic more gradually. One precinct may be 10% Hispanic, the next one 30% Hispanic, the one after that 50% Hispanic, and the center of the neighborhood 80% Hispanic.

To create an extremely Hispanic congressional district, one needs a 95% Hispanic neighborhood – or city, really – big enough to fill an entire congressional district.

There are three such places in America: Miami, Los Angeles, and South Texas.


Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

Packing Blacks

9:12 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the first part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed congressional districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and whites.

Packing Blacks

In drawing the districts that will elect America’s congressman and state legislatures, race is of paramount importance. This is because of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), a complicated piece of legislation which regulates how race is used in congressional redistricting. The VRA is supreme to almost every other consideration in redistricting, except the stipulation that districts must have equal population.

The VRA prohibits packing minorities. For instance, an 80% black district that weaves through unrelated areas, taking in only the black-majority parts, is illegal.

Let’s pretend, however, that the VRA doesn’t exist. For curiosity’s sake, what is the blackest district you can possibly make in the United States?

This post will answer that question, using Dave’s Redistricting Application – a tool which allows anybody to create congressional districts.

It is both easy and hard to create an extremely black congressional district.

The easy part is that blacks live in extremely segregated areas. In a completely integrated society, every congressional district would be no more and no less than 12.6% black, since blacks compose 12.6% of America’s population.

In reality, however, segregation has left many areas more than 90% black, while their surroundings are 90% white. Take Cleveland:

It is relatively easy to pack all these blacks into a cohesive unit:

It took less than five minutes to draw this. This district is 90.9% black.

Here, however, comes the hard part. Notice how there are only 247,777 residents of the district. Each congressional district in Ohio needs to have 721,032 residents. To achieve adequate population, the district must add more than 470,000 people. As the picture makes obvious, adding people from outside the black parts of Cleveland will heavily dilute the district’s black percentage (it may end up less than 50% black as one begins adding 95% white precincts).

The solution is to run the district to other highly segregated black parts of Ohio. Unfortunately, doing this involves going through 95% white areas. This will inevitably dilute the black percentage.

One encounters similar troubles with most inner-city areas that have a substantial black population. Once one runs out of 90% black precincts, the black population dwindles fast.

Concentrated populations of blacks are, of course, not just found in inner-cities. A number of Southern states – places like Mississippi – contain substantial black populations. Unfortunately for a mapmaker, however, many Southern blacks live in rural areas – and these rural areas are much more integrated than places like Cleveland. In Alabama, for instance, the most black a district can get is about 81.5%. In many cities, moreover, the black population is dwindling; in Los Angeles nowadays it is simply impossible to create even a black-majority congressional district.

If only there existed an extremely segregated city like Cleveland, except with enough 95% black precincts to fill an entire congressional district…

Well, welcome to Chicago:

In Chicago it is (barely) possible to create a congressional district composed of only the dark blue precincts in this picture:

For a clearer view, here is the northern part of the district:

Here is the southern part:

This monstrosity is a 94.8% black congressional district, linking together almost all the blacks in Chicago. It is possible to get a ~93% black district without linking the South Side to the Lawndale area; one would simply start adding more 70 and 80% precincts in the suburbs south of Chicago. However, linking the two together makes the district slightly blacker.

It is an interesting exercise to guess how this district voted in 2008. Nationally blacks gave 95% of the vote to President Barack Obama. However, blacks tend to be more Democratic in more segregated areas, so the black vote was probably more Democratic in Chicago than nationwide. Moreover, the non-black vote also tends to be extremely Democratic in inner-cities; in Washington, for instance, 86% of whites supported the president. Finally, given Mr. Obama’s roots in Chicago, individuals of all races would be even more likely to vote for him than otherwise would be the case.

My guess is that this district voted 99% Democratic in 2008. (Edit: Presidential data for Illinois has been released, and it turns out that my guess was right; it voted 98.8% Democratic.)

Blacks, of course, are not the only race which can be packed into congressional districts like these. It is possible – and even easier – to do the same with Hispanics. The next post will examine how to pack Hispanics.

by inoljt

The Myth of a Multiracial American Utopia

5:17 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

With the results of the 2010 Census slowly coming in, a number of news stories have focused on the growing number of multiracial Americans. They talk about, for instance, about an individual whose father of race A is and whose mother is of race B – and who identifies with neither race. America, the theme goes, is slowly becoming a nation of mixed-race people.

There is an earnest hope about these stories. The hope is that, as the number of multiracial Americans increases, there will eventually come a time when race does not matter. Everybody will eventually be multiracial, so nobody will think of race anymore.

It is an admirable dream.

Unfortunately, the dream of a multiracial society in which racism ceases to exist will probably remain just that – a dream. In fact, there are a number of mixed-race societies in the world. These are places such as Mexico or Brazil, products of centuries of mixing after the Spanish and Portuguese conquests. Indeed, Mexico and Brazil pride themselves on being multiracial. While Americans celebrate Columbus Day, countries in Latin America celebrate Dia de la Raza (although sometimes the name is different), commemorating the creation of a new Hispanic race.

Racism, unfortunately, still is quite prevalent in these mixed-race countries. The general rule is that the lighter a person’s skin, the better off they do. The political and economic elite invariably have the most European ancestry, despite being very much in the minority. The poor and needy always have more indigenous or African ancestry.

Take, for instance, the telenovelas that air on America’s Spanish-language channels. If one were to judge what a typical Hispanic-American looks like just by watching telenovelas, one would be forgiven for concluding that 50% of Hispanic-American women have blonde hair. No telenovela will ever have a main character whose skin is as dark as Hispanics in real-life.

Or take Brazil, another extremely multiracial society. Here is a picture of residents in a typical favela (Brazilian slum), taken by the New York Times:

Here is a picture of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (a leftist politician who herself, in all probability, strongly opposes racial discrimination):

Notice a difference?

The unfortunate, sad reality is that, judging by the examples of existing multiracial societies, a more multiracial America will not lead to racial harmony. Rather, as in Brazil or Mexico, those with the lightest skin will end up doing better than those with darker skin. Human nature is just too inherently suspicious of those who look different for racism to end merely by adding more people who look different.


by inoljt

The Rise and Fall of the South Carolina Democratic Party

11:31 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

In my research on South Carolina’s 2010 gubernatorial election, I came upon a fascinating chart. The chart describes the number of Democrats and Republican in South Carolina’s State House of Representatives from the Civil War to the present day. The data offers a fascinating story of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, and the Deep South in general.

Here is the story:

Most individuals familiar with politics know the history of the Deep South: it seceded from the Union after President Abraham Lincoln was elected. In the resulting Civil War, it fought the hardest and suffered the most against Union forces.

Victorious Union forces were identified with the hated Republican Party, founded with the explicit goal of destroying the southern way of life by ending slavery.

Under military Union rule, the Republican Party flourished in South Carolina:

The Republican Party was the dominant political force during the Reconstruction era, as the graph above shows. During its reign in power, it enjoyed large majorities in the State House of Representatives. Its political base was the black vote, and it attempted to systemically ensure racial equality for blacks and whites. A number of blacks were elected to state and federal office; it’s probable that many of the Republicans in the State House of Representatives were black.
Read the rest of this entry →