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Seattle isn’t as diverse as you might think it is

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Seattle comes in ninth, not for diversity but for the lack of it

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Seattle prides itself on diversity, inclusion, and being progressive. It’s admirable and even true if you look in the right neighborhoods. Unfortunately, collect all of the data, include all of the city, and the opposite is true to the extent that Seattle is the ninth least diverse city in the U.S - at least racially. Oops.

The Seattle Times published a series of articles that dive into the surprising data. The city’s population is about 66 percent white, and that percentage hasn’t changed since 2010. Back then, Seattle was eleventh; but the rest of the country is improving racial diversity more quickly. For a while the city’s image was true, but affordability means people with lower-incomes (who tend to have a lower percentage of whites) are moving out of the city and even out of the county.

The details change the picture, and demonstrate why stereotypes rarely are accurate. Parts of Greenwood, Ravenna/Maple Leaf, North Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Georgetown are becoming less diverse. At the same time, other neighborhoods, some of which sit beside some of those five, are becoming more diverse: Lake City, North Queen Anne, South Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the International District. The irony is that the International District’s racial diversity rose because;

Asians fell from 72 percent to 54 percent of the neighborhood’s population.

The good news is that other parts of the region are becoming known for their diversity. Bellevue is now a majority-minority city, much more diverse than Seattle; and,

Tukwila, SeaTac, Bryn Mawr-Skyway and Boulevard Park are among the most racially diverse places in the U.S. Renton, Federal Way and Kent are also majority-minority cities now.

For the Eastside, the largest increase has been in the Asian population, but the declining white population sped the shift. Considering the Eastside’s wealth, it isn’t just the movement of people with low incomes that make the difference.

Our region is diverse; but oddly, there is a diversity in the way we’re diverse. Seattle is a dynamic city. It will be interesting to check back in a few years and how we’ve all shifted, again.