Sunday, July 1, 2012

Adding a Little Ancestry

This post provides some additional ingredients to the discussion of the Melting Pot. My brother, Baldy, pointed me to a fascinating map, itself produced from 2000 Census data tabulations by the U.S. Census Bureau, published as Ancestry: 2000 and available here. Herewith the map:

Click to Enlarge, Esc to return.

A little quiet study of this graphic reveals a great deal about our so-called melting pot. For one it suggests that most people have long memories. The map was built from people’s answers to Question 10 of the 2000 Census form: “What is this person’s ancestry or ethnic origin?” The question provided two 15-letter blanks. The map shows for each county the largest number reporting there, thus a plurality. In my own county, Wayne County, MI, the answer was African American.

I found it interesting that only 7.2 percent of the people reported their ancestry as American. The geographies where this category made it to the map were settled mostly by Germans, English, French, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish immigrants. Are these people the genuine product of the melting pot? Probably not. That answer may have included some people who were trying to make a statement—alongside many more who didn’t think about the question, were in a hurry, or lived in families were “heritage” is not much of a subject at the dinner table…

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