Columbia is a remarkably diverse and integrated community when compared to the region, which is highly segregated. A closer look shows that 3/4 of Columbia’s census tracts reflect the black-white balance of the region and 2/3 of the census tracts reflect the region’s balance of all four major racial and ethnic groups – black, white, Asian and Latino.
However, at a finer grain level, we see pockets of emerging racial segregation in our community. This is worrisome. We know — based on national experience — that if an area is no longer seen as desirable by one or more racial groups, that loss of demand affects not only home values, schools and achievement levels, and other measures of prosperity, but the very spirit of a place.
Zoom in to view four maps that help illustrate what is occurring. Each dot represents one person, based on the US Census. Blue = White, Green = Black, Orange = Latino, and Red = Asian. In 1980, 13 years after Columbia’s founding, as you would expect given Columbia’s vision, you see an integrated community consisting mostly of black and white residents in the Columbia villages that were developed first – Wilde Lake, Long Reach, Owen Brown, Harper’s Choice and Town Center, as compared to the areas around Columbia, which were predominately white. Over the next 30 years you can observe patterns as Columbia develops including higher concentrations of African Americans and Latinos in certain areas than the community as a whole. You can also discern areas that have higher concentrations of white and Asian residents.
Demographics in 1980
Demographics in 1990
Demographics in 2000
Demographics in 2010
Sustaining our community as an integrated one that is attractive and welcoming to all is critically important. It positively affects property values, education equity, social cohesion and civic life. Now is the time — before any significant segregation patterns emerge — to promote the racial integration that has made our community a thriving national model.