New data, consisting of information from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and American Communities Project, is trying to determine exactly where hate groups are more likely to exist in the United States.
The analysis concluded that the two types of counties (both of which exist primarily in but are not limited to the South) most likely to have hate groups are Evangelical Hubs and the African American South. Nationally, for every SPLC hate group, there are an estimated 405,000 Americans. In Evangelical Hubs, there are 208,000 and in the African American South there are 223,000.
These counties have two specific factors in common, which may also explain why hate groups thrive there: low income and high diversity.
The American Communities Project describes the Evangelical Hubs in this way:
But the Evangelical Hubs have a few other key elements driving their community culture they are less diverse (85% white), with lower incomes (a median of about $39,000) and lower education levels (about 15% of the population have a bachelors degree or more).
While the website describes this county as not particularly diverse due to its high percentage of white people, Evangelical Hubs also have a 9 percent population of Blacks which is considered higher than the national average.
Meanwhile, the African American South shares some similarities with the Evangelical Hubs:
Stretched in a belt that runs from Virginia down through Texas, these 371 counties are home to large African American populations they are more than 40% African American. The counties have relatively small Hispanic populations only about 5%. With a median household income of just $35,561, the African American South is the least wealthy of the 15 county types in the American Communities Project.
The first similarity tying these counties together is a lower average income. This perhaps comes as less of a surprise because other statistics support the connection of lower income to racism. Amid the recent Confederate flag controversy, ORC International conducted a poll regarding Americans’ attitudes and beliefs on different issues concerning the flag. Some questions yielded very different results among the classes. For instance, one question asked responders if they supported or opposed “Removing Confederate flags from government property that is not part of a museum.” Among those with an income under 50k, 48 percent supported removing the flag, while 49 percent opposed it. In comparison, for those with an income over 50k, 64 percent supported it and only 35 percent opposed.
Another question that saw a divide among the classes asked those polled if they supported or opposed “Private companies choosing not to sell or manufacture items featuring the Confederate flag.” Like the previous question, those in the under 50k demographic were more likely to oppose than support, at 53 and 45 percent, respectively. And once again, more people with an income over 50k supported the measure, with 58 percent supporting and 39 percent opposed.
What seems perplexing is the existence of hate groups in diverse areas. However, even the most diverse areas still experience hate.
California exemplifies this dilemma. The state is considered by many one of the country’s most diverse, and the statistics back this up: only 39 percent of its population is white, according to the 2013 census. A poll conducted by the LA Times and USC Dornsife earlier this year shows that two-thirds of residents believe California’s race relations are better than anywhere else in the country.
However, the poll also showed that the state experiences difficulties similar to the rest of the country. When asked if police are toughest on Blacks, over 75 percent of Blacks responded yes. More than 50 percent of Asians agreed, as well as just below half of whites. Only 36 percent of the total responders believed the police treat all races equally.
And although a state may be home to a diverse group, it does not necessarily mean that these groups are interacting with one another in a positive way, if at all. 26-year-old Christopher Minnich, a responder to the poll who is half Chinese and half white, said, “There’s definitely a white concentration.” He said that although the state’s culture overall is considered “inclusive,” people, socially and professionally, tend to stick with their own racial groups.
In his comments on the studies, Mark Anthony Neal, an African American studies professor at Duke University, said that while the assumption would be an area with high diversity would have less racial tension, this is not always the case, explaining that “just because folks are going to school with people of the opposite race doesn’t mean that families are talking about race in [a] productive way.”
He also said that instead of diverse groups feeling united, they instead turn against each other especially in a low-income area where families may be competing for resources.
“You’re talking about communities of folks who are all struggling for the same amount of resources,” he said. “They may blame another group for not having access to those resources.”
While parts of the data may be unexpected to some, it can only be hoped that this new information proves helpful to identifying and ultimately eliminating these hate groups throughout the country.