Visualizing Anti-Black Racism on Long Island

Using Data to Examine the Suburb’s History of Structural Racism

Historical Policies

These values are approximations due to a lack of precise historical data.

Segregation

With some Long Island communities restricting black people from purchasing homes, segregated communities began to form. I will use census tracts in this post to get a sufficiently granular look at Long Island communities. Here is a look at the black population across Long Island over time:

Robert Moses constructed Long Island around its highways.

Economic Disparities

Perhaps the most salient type of disparity in segregated areas are related to wealth and income.

Educational Disparities

Families looking to move to or around Long Island generally will cite school districts as the biggest factor in selecting a house. Seeking a community with a better school district is often a thinly veiled way of looking for a whiter town. Accordingly, segregated school districts (based on segregated communities) are at the heart of Long Island’s racial disparities.

Health Disparities

The economic and educational challenges I have discussed are among several factors that can contribute to health disparities between blacks and whites. Access to adequate health care can be difficult to afford in the United States. Poorer work (or school) conditions and inadequate access to fresh foods can further contribute to health inequities. It also doesn’t help that hospitals do not tend to be located in highly-concentrated black communities, especially for those with more limited transportation options.

Crime Disparities

And we are all familiar in recent years with the disparate treatment of black people by law enforcement. It is no different on Long Island and the distinct segregation allows police to set their focus on certain communities.

It’s Not Getting Better

I figure at this point the prevailing thought might be something like: “Thanks for the history lesson, but it’s 2021 and the gap between blacks and whites is surely shrinking at this point.” (Ok, you may not be thinking that because the sample of people who would have read all the way up to this point is surely biased…but many would.)

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