Chicago: Segregation and Violence

Violence in Chicago is Black and White

Recently Chicago has made many headlines for the alarming number of homicides that have occurred in the city. This weekend several people were shot, including a young child. But Chicago actually is a city that exists in two totally different worlds. If you are white, the city is one that seems quite safe and full of opportunity, but for African Americans, living in Chicago is often all but pleasant. 

Take a look at this map. It shows just how segregated the city is by race. In fact, Chicago consistently ranks as the most segregated city in the country. Most parts of the city have clear racial majorities, and there is not much overlap.

Huge sections of the city are more than 75% African American and those areas are largely surrounded by hispanic majority areas. You will notice some white sections which are those areas that have no clear majority and outside these areas are the 75% or more White sections of the city. With few exceptions, this is the pattern in the city. It is interesting to note that the University of Chicago is in Hyde Park which is along the right side of the map near the bottom third and surrounded by African American sections. Keep that in mind.

Here is the second map I wanted to show. This map shows the rate of violent crimes in the city from a few years ago. The distribution of crimes has hardly changed over time.

Notice the extreme correlation between African American and hispanic neighborhoods in the first map and the violent crime rate in this map. And look back at Hyde Park. It is clearly the safest neighborhood in an area surrounded by crime and consequently it is the only neighborhood in the area that is not predominantly African American. 

These figures really make me think. It seems that being in Chicago race matters more than almost anywhere else in the country. For the white residents in the city, they can rest easily at night knowing that they feel safe in their homes, but for African Americans it appears this is often not the case.

What I find interesting is that crime really does stick in particular areas. It seems that "safety" has sharply defined lines in the city, but there are no physical barriers to the movement of crime to other areas of the city. For all of the innocent people who are hurt or killed living in Chicago, something's got to change.