The Asian Population Proportion map shows that counties on the coast of California (particularly near Los Angeles and San Francisco), counties on the coast of Washington, and counties on the coast of New England have higher than average proportions of Asian residents. The population of Asians compared to total population in the county ranged from 1 at 0.08% of the population (in Monroe County, Kentucky) to 403,371 at 46.04% of the population (in Honolulu County, Hawaii – not pictured). The county with the largest absolute Asian population was Los Angeles County, California at 1,137,500 residents (11.95%).
The Black Population Proportion map shows that counties in the Southeast (excluding the Florida Peninsula, and most of the narrow strip of coast along the Gulf of Mexico) have higher than average proportions of Black residents. The population of Black residents compared to total population in the county ranged from 1 at 0.01% of the population (in Webster County, West Virginia) to 8,424 at 86.49% of the population (in Jefferson County, Mississippi). The county with the largest absolute Black resident population was Cook County, Illinois at 1,405,361 residents (26.14%).
The Other Race Population Proportion map shows that counties in the Southwest, counties along the Mexico-U.S. Border, counties in Southern California, and counties in eastern Washington have higher than average proportions of Other Race residents. The population of Other Race residents compared to total population in the county ranged from 1 at 0.01% of the population (in Martin County, Kentucky) to 55,634 at 39.08% of the population (in Imperial County, California). The county with the largest absolute Other Race resident population was Los Angeles County, California at 2,239,997 residents (23.53%).
Extrapolating from the patterns on these maps and some knowledge of U.S. history, one can generate several theories as to the distribution of Asian, Black and Other populations throughout the U.S. I am basing my explanations on the belief that populations of people tend to stay at their population’s historical first point of settlement.
Residents of Asian ethnicity tend to populate the West Coast. This is not that surprising. Given California’s proximity to Asia, it was the natural port of entry for many Asian immigrants to the U.S. The California Gold Rush in the 1850s drew a massive amount of Chinese laborers to California. Numbers of new Chinese immigrants remained high until congress passed the bigoted Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (there were no such restrictions on European Immigrants until much later). Japanese immigrants began to arrive in the mid-19th century as well. American wars were largely responsible for an influx of Filipino immigrants (after the Spanish-American War) and Vietnamese immigrants (after the Vietnam War).
I hypothesize that Black populations in the South are at such a high percentage because of the legacy of slavery. Africans were kidnapped and transported to the South where they were bought by plantation owners throughout region. After the American Civil War, the federal government granted former slaves ownership to 40 acres of land for farming. These plots were typically located on the area of the former plantation. Land “ownership” – serious flaws in the Reconstruction after the Civil War resulted in many of these plots falling right into the hands of the former plantation owners – kept many former slaves from leaving the South.
Strangely, Latino population data specifically was not included in the database I examined; instead, it seems to be embedded in the “Other Race” category of data. Possibly, this is because “Latino” is generally recognized as an ethnicity, rather than a race. From this point forward, I will use “Latino” and “Other Race” category interchangeably. Well before the West Coast and Southwest were annexed by the U.S., large populations of people of Latin American and Spanish descent populated these areas. Missions, Ranchos and other types of settlements soon spread these populations throughout the Southwestern U.S. More recently, an influx of itinerant workers and permanent immigrants have made their way across the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of these people, looking for work, settle close to their point of entry.
My limited experience with GIS while enrolled in Geography 7 has left me with a respect for the depth of information that spatial data can contain. Analyzing and presenting the data is not as simple as creating a graph in Excel. There is no linear input-output relationship when dealing with GIS data. Choices from color scheme, to classification method, to content scale have a profound effect on the way the data is received. Before enrolling in this class, I was perplexed by how many GIS-related classes UCLA offered. Now after taking this course, I realize that specializing in GIS involves more than just mastery of a software platform.