I’m seeing this article making the rounds on Facebook. It claims to have found the cities that tweet the most slurs and, from there, deduces that they are the most “hate-filled”. While I don’t doubt their numbers, I don’t think it’s accurately interpreted either. Take a look at the list for Hispanic slurs:
- Bakersfield, CA
- Chula Vista, CA
- Modesto, CA
- Fontana, CA
- Riverside, CA
- Garland, TX
- Arlington, TX
- Moreno Valley, CA
- Miami, FL
- San Antonio, TX
Of the three states represented, they have some of the largest Hispanic populations in the country. It’s worth asking why New Mexico (for example) couldn’t get Santa Fe into the top 10 given that they have more Hispanics than Florida, but we have to separate out the problem first. You cannot look at this data and not see that it is a list of places that the people facing discrimination have chosen to live in large numbers.
I don’t mean this as victim blaming. Rather, it stands to reason that Louisiana’s gay enclave in the deep south would make the top 10 for the nation. LGBT people in the south go to New Orleans because it is better. This disproportionate number of LGBT people would, uh, inspire more tweets. Don’t get me wrong: someone in rural Louisiana who thinks they have never met a gay person might tweet about something they see on TV, but we’ve effectively generated a list of cities where there is the most clash between the groups described and the rest of the community.
Clash is not linear with oppression. Very oppressed communities cannot risk being open and avoid contact with the majority community. More, the majority community will feel less need to assert its dominance through abusive tweets. As this changes, clash will increase until enough people in the majority change their minds to allow it subside.
This does not apply to the tweets about women. After all, women are everywhere in roughly equal numbers. In that case, we can see that there are regional variations and I am certain a more careful analysis could find it for each of the groups listed. But I would not bet that, for example, Chicago is a better place than Bakersfield to be Hispanic without more data.
Beware geographic analyses. People make choices about where to live, and those choices will impact the outcomes of geographic studies.