Racial Dot Map: Part 1

Racial Dot MapbThis is part 1 of a three part series on the impact of the 2010 Census for Baltimore City’s food deserts, retail, and where we live.

Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service color coded individuals’ ethnicity and dot placed them on a Racial Dot Map. There are over 308,745,538 dots on that map. I found it beautiful and interesting to see where we all live, especially in Baltimore. I was intrigued to see how the map related to the food desserts.

Last week my colleague Phillip Westry told us about the food deserts that exist in Baltimore City. Questions arouse from his article such as; Why do densely populated neighborhoods, comparatively Penn North, Druid Heights, Sandtown-Wincester, not have access to healthy food? Can we base a person’s life expectancy on where they live? Why do we have 68% of our population overweight and obese?

Data that tells us where we live is just data until you enter into other equations, such as food deserts. When you look at the map you can see how the dots interrelate with each other. There are densely populated areas in which mostly African Americans live. Some of the neighborhoods are, Penn North/Reservoir Hill, Upton/Druid Heights, Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park, and Greater Rosemont. The areas that are mostly populated by Caucasians are, Hampden, Medfield, Canton, Guilford, Roland Park and Remington.  According to the Baltimore City Health Department Sandtown-Windchester, Harlem Park and Greater Rosemount possess some of the lowest life expectancy, additionally they are located in a food desert. Could their short life spans be caused by lack of proper nutrition?

The Health Department has assisted neighborhoods that are located in a food desert by offering a virtual supermarket; however I would believe that a large demand would equal a large food distributor rushing to meet the neighborhoods’ needs. Not having access to healthy food can be a contributing factor to being both obese and having a low life expectancy, yet we must factor in a neighborhood’s walkabilty, crime, and other influences. Baltimore’s neighborhoods have a rich interwoven history. Many people fought for everyone to have a quality of life no matter their income or race; and one characteristic of quality of life is equal access to food.

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