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The Geography of White Supremacy in the USA

Where are the American White Supremacists congregating?

I use Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s H.E.A.T. (Hate, Extremism, Antisemitism, Terrorism) database, which contains various incidents of hate, extremism, antisemitism and terrorism, to map the geography of White Supremacy in the USA. The events I will be using are White Supremacist Events defined by ADL as:

White Supremacist Events: Public and private events in the U.S. organized or attended by white supremacists, including rallies and protests, counter-protests, white power music events, flash mob demonstrations, hate group meetings and more.

The H.E.A.T., by no means, contains the exhaustive list of all White Supremacist activity, but it it a good starting point for verified congregation of the said groups.

Figure 1. shows the raw distribution of White Supremacist Events across the US states. Massachusetts, a fairly liberal state, stands out among others. Why is so? We will discuss it at the end.

Fig 1: Raw distribution of White Supremacist Events by the US States.

Figure 2. shows the annual distribution of these events. 2020, the year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and most of the USA went under lockdown discouraging public gathering of any sort, saw these events plummet and then gain steam once life returned to normal. We will look further what these gathering were about during the pandemic later on in this post because the folks who support White Supremacy also tend to discourage vaccination, so these rallies might be anti-vaccination rallies instead of an expression of the White Supremacy.

Fig 2: Raw distribution of White Supremacist Events in the USA over years.

Table 1. lists the cities where most of these White Supremacist events happened. Boston stands out as a sore thumb! So, what is inflating Massachusetts in Figure 1 is perhaps this one city?

City State Events
Boston MA 23
Washington DC 22
Harrison AR 13
Chicago IL 12
Knoxville TN 11
San Diego CA 9
Austin TX 7
New York NY 6
Burns TN 6
Harrisburg PA 6

Table 1: Cities with the most White Supremacist Events.

Let’s now plot the heatmap to show the White Supremacist activity. The benefit of such plotting is that the geography of the activity that we are interested in – let that be White Supremacy, traffic accidents, supply chain hubs, music festivals, etc. – becomes immediately perceptible to the audience.  Figure 3. shows this heatmap.

Figure 3. Heatmap of White Supremacist Events across the US states.

Finally, you might want to explore the data interactively. The following dashboard allows you to do that. It provides information on the exact geo-coded location at city level as well as name of the organizing White Supremacist group.

Dashboard 1: Interactive map of White Supremacist Events across the USA.

Note: The caption of the post contains a White Supremacist symbol for demonstration purpose. Read more on this appropriation here: 4chan trolling turned the OK sign into a symbol of hate.

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