Late last month, the U.S. Census dropped a bit of a bomb on us that the Seattle Times aptly ran with: Seattle is apparently the fifth whitest big city in America, graduating two spots from where we were in 2000.
About 66 percent of the population is white. The Seattle Times pointed out that even Wichita and Minneapolis are less white than Seattle.
Additionally, by another measure, the diversity index, which calculates the probability that two people in a given area will be of different racial or ethnic backgrounds — a score of 100 means there is perfect diversity and a score of 0 means everyone is the same — Seattle rates low, It has the eighth lowest diversity index score among the top 50 big cities. Within Washington state, Seattle ranks lower than cities such as Tukwila, Bellevue, Redmond, Lynnwood, and Mount Vernon, according to The Seattle Times.
Say it isn’t so!
How is it that we were able to run a story proclaiming the 98118 zip code to be one of the most diverse zip codes in the whole country? How come the information seems conflicting?
Perhaps the truer picture of Seattle is that it is a city that is predominantly white overall, with marked pockets of diverse neighborhoods.
For every North Beacon Hill (45.8 percent Asian, 25.5 percent white, 13.9 percent Black, 11.6 percent Latino, 1.6 percent American Indian, 0.8 percent Pacific Islander, 5.3 percent other), there is a Magnolia (89 percent white, 5.3 percent Asian, 2.7 percent Latino, 1.3 percent Black, 0.4 percent American Indian, 0.3 percent Pacific Islander, 0.8 percent other) and a Queen Anne (88.3 percent white, 5.0 percent Asian, 3 percent Latino, 1.9 percent Black, 0.6 percent American Indian, 0.2 percent Pacific Islander).
It is important to note that diversity doesn’t necessarily mean being less white. According to the diversity index, Detroit is the least diverse big city in American, due to its large Black population.
Rather, diversity means variety.
So how can this city mix it up more? Of course, we can’t, nor should we, force people to move to different neighborhoods for the sake of diversity, but we can definitely patronize the businesses of neighborhoods we aren’t used to. We’ve heard many people of color say that they are uncomfortable being in predominantly white places. Well, we say get over that and try something new. After all, it’d be hypocritical to expect others to learn about your culture when you aren’t willing to do the same.
We encourage the City of Seattle, and any local organization, to take the lead and organize some sort of neighborhood buddy event or program. For instance, the International District can pair up with Ballard for a cultural exchange. ♦