What's it like to be a black family living out in the white "boonies"?

Day 2 of our series on taking a look at our own neighborhoods’ census data, my boss, The Chicago Reporter’s Editor Kimbriell Kelly takes a look at where she lives.


There’s a little blue dot on a map that represents every 25 black people. In my census tract of 10,538 people, there’s just one dot. It’s not a surprise living in what my friends call “the boonies.”

I can’t prove this, but I’d hazard to guess there is more diversity in animal or plant species than race or ethnicity in my small home through the woods and past the river.

Take a look:

kk census tract.png

According to The New York Times mapping project, just one percent of people who live in my census tract in Northwest suburban Algonquin are black. Another one percent is Asian. The largest minority is Latino–and they’re just six percent. The largest population is white people. And at a surprisingly large rate–91 percent. It makes for an interesting conversation when I talk to my neighbors about what I do for a living, running a magazine about race and poverty.

The lack of diversity doesn’t just stop at race. A measure to allow civil unions recently passed here in Illinois, and yet the percentage of same-sex couples in my neighborhood is a big goose egg.

I don’t think any of this is a big surprise. The suburbs, particularly those in the Northwest, have not been viewed as being as diverse as parts of the city and South Suburbs where I grew up. Had it not been for a job after college, I wouldn’t be here either.

And that brings me to my next point, probably the biggest surprise of my neighborhood stats. Only one-third of the residents in my neighborhood graduated from college but make a pretty decent income. The median income is $78,221. That’s a pretty hefty figure considering only 12 percent of the folks in my neighborhood have a masters degree and just 35 percent have a bachelors. My guess is that if you are black like me, and live in a neighborhood that has the opposite, say 92 percent black, the numbers would be much different.

What’s going on in your neighborhood? Take a look at your census tract with the New York Times’ slick map and tell us what you see. Check back the rest of this week to see more about where we live and how our neighborhoods are changing.

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