Racial Segregation in Cleveland, Ohio Aggie Bisselle

Cleveland, Ohio is one of the most segregated cities in one of America's most segregated states. Cleveland has around 388,000 residents and has significant disparities between black and white residents regarding birth outcomes, health, life expectancy, income and incarceration rates (Kuhlman, Scene). According to the most recent 2019 ACS, the racial demographics of Cleveland are 50.41% Black or African American and 39.79% White (World Population Review). Within this composition, there is significant segregation regarding where people live.

This is a bar graph I created from the population data of Glenville and Lyndhurst.

I wanted to focus on two specific neighborhoods' populations. Glenville is a neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland with a black population of 97.4% and 2.25% white (Areavibes). Lyndhurst is also a neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland with a white population of 85% and 10.8% black (DataUSA). This segregation is rooted in Cleveland's history of creating discriminatory housing policies during the Great Migration. During this period, the African American population in Cleveland in Cleveland increased from 8,500 to 72,000 (Ideastream). This fluctuation prompted the widespread use of racially prohibiting deed restrictions and banking policies that dictated non-whites from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. The segregated communities in Cleveland today are largely a result of these historical policies put in place to intentionally divide and separate communities (Zeltner, Cleveland.com). These conditions have effects on many social and economic inequalities today.

The impacts of residential segregation between black and white populations can be seen through staggering statistics. I wanted to focus on health in my research because Cleveland has some of the best medical facilities in the country such as the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals; however, the difference between life expectancy and infant mortality is astonishing. According to the Medical Reporter Dani Carlson, residents of Lyndhurst, on the East Side, live 12 years longer on average than residents of Glenville neighborhood, only 8 miles away, one of the highest disparities in such close proximity nationwide. Where you live in Cleveland is a large determinant of your health outcomes and in highly black neighborhoods residents are far more likely to experience poor health outcomes (Carlson, The Community Center For Solutions). Similarly, infant mortality rates in Cleveland in 2018 shows that between black and white infants deaths are now 4.1 meaning, “that black babies are dying at four times the rate of white babies” (First Year Cleveland). Planned residential segregation has created racial disparities that significantly reduce access to safe and affordable housing and long-term stress for people of color living in a social system that has a long history of racism. Hyper-segregated communities were no accident in Cleveland and it is important to acknowledge the past that has intentionally separated neighborhoods to understand how we can change the future.

After I graduated high school in 2016, my family relocated from Manchester, Vermont to Cleveland, Ohio. This transition from a small sheltered town to a large diverse city was shocking. This past summer, I lived in Cleveland for the first time since my family relocated and interned for the Cleveland Foundation. The Cleveland Foundation is a community foundation that supports local non-profits and aims to bring segregated neighborhoods together. My time spent living in Cleveland and working for an organization that addressed issues of segregation sparked my interested to further investigate this topic. This story is significant to me because I think it is important to understand the social, economic and cultural dynamics of the place I live in. By further researching Cleveland's history and its current segregation, I have learned how ingrained black/white residential segregation is to Cleveland’s past. Before this summer, I was unaware and naïve of the race problem Cleveland has but through my experiences, I have first-hand seen residential segregation and historical discrimination affecting current life. Overall, this story is significant to me because I have struggled with my family's relocation and I value learning more about the history and current social climate of the place I now call home.

Dirty Data: I made a chart that explains how dirty data and bias policing can perpetuate racial segregation and stereotypes. This cycle shows how innacurate police data can result in bad predictions and violate civil rights.

Cleveland’s racial segregation relates to criminal justice systems, social order, and police presence. This semester we discussed the article, “Dirty Data, Bad Predictions: How Civil Rights Violations Impact Police Data, Predictive Policing Systems, and Justice,” which discussed how dirty data can produce, “flawed, racially biased and unlawful practices and policies.” With such high levels of racial segregation in Cleveland, there is a large possibility that juked states are being used to present an inaccurate representation of crime statistics. This article demonstrates the implications of manipulating data to focus on certain neighborhoods that may look like they are more dangerous based on false statistics. Without greater incentives for accountability and accuracy in police data, communities (specifically ones with large black populations) will not see fairness, equality and justices reflected in government practices. A study conducted by Case Western University examined racial profiling in Cleveland police stating that “blacks in Cleveland received fifty-three percent more than their proportional share of traffic tickets (1.53) and were two and a half (2.51) times as likely to be ticketed by police in the city as whites” (Dunn, 985). This study concluded that the law enforcement officer disproportionally surveilled and stopped black drivers. This article highlights that in police efforts to, “predict, detect, and apprehend criminal activity, ostensibly operating under a stereotypical rationale of the disproportionate involvement in the crime of blacks or minorities, are practicing a form of statistical discrimination that has a disparate impact on African Americans” (Dunn, 992). This study by the Case Western University and the class reading on Dirty Data both demonstrate the systematic racism manipulated through false statics and racial stereotypes.

Mulitude: I made a word cloud to identify what factors of Cleveland's segregation might deter the multitude and some ideas of how Cleveland residents came come together to form a common collective. The red bubbles are aspect that may complicate the multitude and the white bubbles are ways Hart and Negri explain how people can forget about differences and gather.

This semester, we have talked extensively about the way people gather and form collective groups. Negri and Hardt’s in Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire concept of “the multitude” supports how technological developments and digitalization have encouraged the masses to integrated despite inherent differences. Different cultures, races, genders, and sexual orientation are all included in the multitude because it is, “a multiplicity of all these singular differences” (Negri and Hardt, xiv). Through digitalization and media, the world is more connected than ever before. With such an extensive history of residential segregation in Cleveland, I was curious to explore if the gathering of people is altered based such divided social relations. On one hand, technology and changes in social order may allow people from different neighborhoods to form a network that can communicate effectively and create unified change. For example, Cleveland now celebrates ethnic and racial diversity through cultural gardens and efforts to address segregation issues like the Cleveland Foundation. However, on the other hand, Ohio and Cleveland’s population consists of many people who do not want change and remain intolerant to developments in desegregation. I believe the way people come together in a city like Cleveland are complex and constantly changing. This text and the discussion of segregation in Cleveland demonstrate how difficult it is to navigate the social dynamics of cities that consist of divided racial diversity.

My objective of looking at the racial segregation of Cleveland through the neighborhoods Glenville and Lyndhurst was to show how this divide affects many social and economic inequalities today. Acknowledging these inequalities and historical prejudice may ensure that we can move forward with policies and practices that are inclusive. This data demonstrated the significant issues Cleveland faces in terms of racial segregation and how those divides can alter health and life expectancy rates. I think that all aspects of this data should be addressed in critical terms because each aspect incorporates statistics that identity significant racial disparities. Also, I believe it is important to look back at historical policies that shaped isolated neighborhoods and show the root of these divisions. According to Amy Eddings author of, “Divided by Design: Tracking Neighborhood Racial Segregation in Cleveland,” Glenville did not require deed restrictions” which resulted in black residents flocking to this neighborhood (Ideastream). Overall, this project aimed to explore residential racial segregation in Cleveland, Ohio and examine how this historical designed divide effects inequalities today.

To conclude, I have added three images I feel summarize my data visualization and personal connection to this project. I have another graph I created on RAWGraphs, the location of my house in Glenville, and a screen grab about how policies can change and address racial inequalities in Ohio.

I wanted to create a project that was personal while incorporating data visualization and seeing multitudes subject matter from our course focus. This story highlights my transition from living in a small town to moving to a large city flooded with segregation and racial inequalities. Based on my personal experiences, I have wanted to learn more about the segregation happening directly around me in Cleveland. I learned that in my neighborhood of Glenville, there are significant racial imbalances that significantly alter life expectancy rates and infant mortality. Learning more about these staggering statistics has made me more aware and conscious of the racial stereotypes and systematic divides that are extremely present in Cleveland. My time spent this summer working for an organization that attempted to address these issues and aimed to bring communities together was inspiring. To conclude, Cleveland, Ohio still is labeled as hyper-segregated but currently momentum in building to reject these divides that have historically been created. According to Mark Chupp, a social science professor at Case Western University, “you can see progress in shifts in population that is underway”(Brookbank, News 5 Cleveland). Clearly from my statistics, Cleveland still needs extreme reform and de-segregation however, change may be on the horizon.


Bash, Homa. “Data Shows it is more difficult to be black than white in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County.” News 5 Cleveland, 10 Dec, 2018, https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/data-shows-it-is-more-difficult-to-be-black-than-white-in-cleveland-and-cuyahoga-county

Brookbank, Mike. “Some Cleveland Neighborhoods Still dealing with Segregation.” 24 May, 2018. News 5 Cleveland, https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/some-cleveland-neighborhoods-still-dealing-with-segregation

Carlson, Dani. “Cleveland has vast racial disparities in income, life expectancy, birth outcomes.” 10 Dec, 2018, Center for Community Solutions, https://www.communitysolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/121018-Racial-Disparities-Press-release.pdf

“Cleveland 2019.” Areavibes, https://www.areavibes.com/cleveland-oh/glenville/livability/.

“Divided by Design Timeline: A Historical Tour of Greater Cleveland’s Segregation.” Ideastream, National Archives/Ohio State University Liberties, Nov. 2015, hipcuyahoga.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Divided-By-Design-Interactive-Timeline-compressed.pdf.

Dunn, Ronnie. “Racial Profiling: A persistent Civil Rights Challenge Even in the Twenty-First Century.” 957-992. Volume 66 Issue 4. Case Western University Law Review, 2016,

Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. Selected Chapters. Penguin Press, 2004.

Kuhlman, Mary. “Study Show Life Outcome Disparities for Black and White Residents in Cleveland, One of the Most Segregated Cities in America.” Scene. 14 Dec, 2018. https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2018/12/14/study-shows-life-outcome-disparities-for-black-and-white-residents-in-cleveland-one-of-the-most-segregated-cities-in-america

“Lyndhurst, OH.” DataUSA, https://datausa.io/profile/geo/lyndhurst-oh.

Richardson, Rashida and Schultz, Jason and Crawford, Kate. “Dirty Dara, Bad Predictions: How Civil Rights Violations Impact Police Data, Predictive Policing Systems, and Justice.” 192-233. New York University Law Review, April 2019.

“Reducing Racial Disparities.” First Year Cleveland, 2018. https://www.firstyearcleveland.org/solutions/reducing-racial-disparities

World Population Review. “Cleveland, Ohio Population 2019.” 29 Oct, 2019. http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/cleveland-population/

Zeltner, Brie. “Segregation, Inequality reflected in Ohio’s poor county health rankings.” 16 March, 2016. Cleveland.com, https://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/2016/03/segregation_inequality_reflect.html


Created with an image by DJ Johnson - "Fall 2018. Cleveland, OH."