Sunday, May 14, 2006

The moral of the story is ...

Never use a news report as back up to your awareness, especially before the news organization has a chance to correct their report (or you rummage around to check the source that they don't provide a link to.)

Andrew Sullivan caught site of a WaPo story on demographic stats put out by the Census Bureau and posted on what he thought was a remarkable part, passingly highlighted in the story. (ht: 3rd World View) Sullivan headlined it The Disappearance of Black America?:
The most interesting piece of data in the new study of the under-fives is not, it seems to me, that fact that almost half are now non-white. What's interesting is that only 4 percent of the under-fives are African-American. That compares with 15 percent Asians, 22 percent Hispanics, and 55 percent non-Hispanic whites. Compared with the general population, that's a potentially huge future drop in the black presence in American life. Perhaps I'm more aware of this because of where I live: Washington D.C. In the decade and half since I've lived here, D.C. has only gotten whiter and browner. Its black heritage is just about hanging on. But I doubt it will survive my lifetime with much demographic strength.
By the time I saw this, the WaPo had added their correction line for the error in their graphic which put the 5 year old and under percentage for blacks at 4%. It should be 15% (Black and Asian perecntages should be switched.)

This also serves as a nice lesson in how your perceptions may easily be just the result of factors you actually see not the ones you jump at the chance to use in justifying a claim that you are more aware. In this case, Sullivan was aware of geographical demographical changes in Washington D.C. and only that.


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