The Racial Dot Map and Ketchikan, Alaska

Key to the Racial Dot Map
I recently happened upon an impressive project called the "Racial Dot Map." As stated in this article, this is not the first map that has attempted to display every U.S. citizen, and it certainly isnʼt the first map to try to tackle the present realities of racial segregation in a compelling and eye-catching manner. The Racial Dot Map does, however, do an amazing job in both these respects, and I was particularly interested to use the resource to look at my own community of Ketchikan, Alaska.

I've always believed Ketchikan was a wonderful place to live and grow up in, and one reason I've thought that was true was because of its diversity: Although statistics on students' ethnicity do vary from school to school, the differences are not extreme, and every neighborhood seems to contain a fair amount of difference in socio-economic as well as racial background. Just take a look around the city—you always seem to be able to find a trailer home somewhere near the fanciest houses, and kids of all colors will play in every street.

Left: Southeast Alaska's dot map—a little hard to decipher given its sparse population, but Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan are all pretty visible.

With those notions in mind, I eagerly turned to the Racial Dot Map to see what it would show. It turns out that Ketchikan is much how I imagined it—not very segregated at all. This map shows the city proper, zoomed in as close as possible:


As you can see, there are a few examples of color clusters, such as the Asian (red) blocks on the waterfront in Newtown and the very White (blue) area behind the tunnel downtown. Otherwise, however, especially in the West End (my neighborhood), Ketchikan is a big mashup of Native Americans, Euroamericans, Asian Americans and others, all living next to one another.

Examining Ketchikan's outskirts, from "out north" to "out south," it actually becomes much more difficult graphically to discern patterns in the dots, because they become much more sparse and harder to see. Nevertheless, both of Ketchikan's "directional suburbs" remain diverse, although they do seem bluer (more White) than the city. Out north there's little variation—mostly blue, interspersed regularly with other colors—while out south Forest Park is a bluish blob, followed by the brownish (Native) block of Saxman and then a relatively diverse strip out to Mountain Point and beyond.

Greater Ketchikan—the southwest facet of Revillagigedo Island

Please let me know if you draw any other conclusions from this very interesting map. I remain thankful that Ketchikan is not a segregated city (as it was in the past) and has escaped the troubles of 21st-century racial divisions manifested in neighborhoods and homes. Let's hope the rest of the United States will begin to see more communities that are just as unified in their diversity.

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