What is the racial makeup of Indianapolis?
The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, a nationwide survey that collects census data over a five-year period, shows a new change in the demographics of Indianapolis.
Between 1990 and 2010, each decennial census report has revealed a decline in the percentage of white people within Indianapolis. During the same time, the Black population grew consistently around 2%, according to official census data.
The Hispanic community, which is tracked separately on the census from race, saw rapid growth during the same time period, increasing from 1.05% of the population in 1990 to 9.4% in 2010.
But now, the most recent five-year ACS estimate suggests that part of the trend may be reversing course.
While the percentage of the white population continues to decrease, in 2019 the actual number of white residents in Indianapolis increased significantly. The total count reached 526,643, rising by 4%, after dropping from 554,423 to 507,005 between 1990 and 2010, according to 2019 ACS five-year estimates.
The official 2020 decennial census data for state population, race, and Hispanic origin are not expected to be released until June 2022, according to information on census.gov. As a result, the most recent five-year ACS estimate is used, which analyzes an aggregate of data collected from 2015-2019.
The racial makeup of Indianapolis, by the numbers
Unlike the 2020 census — which accounts for ethnicity and a multitude of race categories like American Indian, Asian, Native Hawaiian and some other race — the census of 1970 only tracked white and “Negro,” as well as “Persons of Spanish Language.” However, the racial categories, as well as the wording of the questions, have changed over time to reflect social attitudes and political considerations.
In the 1980 census, “Negro” was replaced by Black, “other races” was added, and “Persons of Spanish Language” was changed to “Spanish Origin.” The 1980 census also added demographic data for Asian, American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut.
“Spanish Origin” was later changed to Hispanic in the 1990 census.
Total Population: 746,302
- White: 607,902, 81.64%
- Negro: 134,203, 18.02%
*IndyStar calculations found 4,197, 0.56%, of the total population is unaccounted for.
Persons of Spanish Language: 6,211, 0.83%
Total population: 700,807
- White: 540,294, 77.10%
- Black: 152,626, 21.78%
- American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut: 994, 0.14%
- Asian or Pacific Islander: 3,792, 0.54%
- Other race: 3,101, 0.44%
- Hispanic origin (of any race): 6,143, 0.88%
- Not of Hispanic origin: 694,664, 99.12%
Total population: 731,327
- White: 554,423, 75.81%
- Black: 165,570, 22.64%
- American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut: 1,574, 0.22%
- Asian or Pacific Islander: 6,852, 0.94%
- Other race: 2,908, 0.40%
- Hispanic origin (of any race): 7,681, 1.05%
- Not of Hispanic origin: 723,646, 98.95%
Total population: 781,870
- White: 540,212, 69.09%
- Black or African-American: 199,412, 25.50%
- American Indian and Alaskan Native: 1,985, 0.25%
- Asian: 11,161, 1.43%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 322, 0.04%
- Some other race: 15,921, 2.04%
- Two or more races: 12,857, 1.64%
Hispanic or Latino Origin:
- Hispanic or Latino: 30,636, 3.92%
- Not Hispanic or Latino: 751,234, 96.08%
Total Population: 820,445
- White: 507,005, 61.80%
- Black or African-American: 225,355, 27.47%
- American Indian or Alaskan Native: 2,611, 0.32%
- Asian: 17,236, 2.10%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 384, 0.05%
- Some other race: 44,789, 5.46%
- Two or more races: 23,065, 2.81%
Hispanic or Latino origin:
- Hispanic: 77,352, 9.43%
- Not Hispanic: 743,093, 90.57%
2019 ACS five-year estimates
Total Population: 870,340
- White: 526,463, 60.90%
- Margin of error: ±3,007
- Black or African-American: 246,837, 28.55%
- Margin of error: ±2,572
- American Indian or Alaskan Native: 2,456, 0.28%
- Asian: 29,660, 3.43%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 161, 0.02%
- Some other race: 29,982, 3.47%
- Margin of error: ±2,373
- Two or more races: 28,888, 3.34%
- Margin of error: ±2,170
Hispanic or Latino origin:
- Hispanic or Latino: 96,303, 11.06%
- Margin of error: ±1,146
- Not Hispanic or Latino: 774,066, 89.54%
- Margin of error: ±1,282
Looking at the 2019 ACS estimates, a racial comparison of Indianapolis paints a much different picture than the decennial census of 1990. The percentage of the white population within the city had consistently declined (until recently as indicated by the estimates), while growing more racially and ethnically diverse with each census report.
The initial migration of Black people
Indianapolis wasn’t always so diverse.
In the late 1930s and 1940s, a lot of Black people moved to the city for jobs that came along with the continued urbanization of the country and an increase in job opportunities created by WWII, according to professor Paul Mullins, an anthropologist at Indiana University-Purdue University. They were also a part of the Great Migration of African Americans that occurred at the time, fleeing racial violence in the south.
This began the initial shapeshifting of Indianapolis’ demographics, according to Mullins, but the response by white residents accelerated the rate of change.
“White people would flee to the suburbs,” Mullins said. “But Black people couldn’t. Segregating in housing remained the law of the land into the late ’60s and remained customarily into the ’70s and ’80s.”
Redlining, which systematically denied Black people the necessary loans and mortgages to live in certain neighborhoods, perpetuated the changing demographic of the city along with segregation. Discriminatory divisions amongst Indianapolis residents continued to grow, despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Mullins said.
Practices like redlining and segregation have had a lasting impact, shaping the city’s current racial demographic, according to a report by SAVI, a data and information program of the Polis Center at IUPUI. This offers one possible explanation for the decline in the number of white people living in Indianapolis leading up to 2010, according to Mullins.
Gentrification and reverse migration
A lot of the changes within Indianapolis’ racial demography that occurred as a result of segregation remained in effect well beyond the ’80s, according to Mullins.
“Up until right now,” Mullins said.
Current demands of the housing consumer market require a mix of “housing, shopping, and other uses” that lend a preference towards urban dwelling, according to the report by SAVI. And in some of those urban neighborhoods, like Fall Creek Place and Fountain Square amongst others, “this demand has translated to increases in the populations that can afford to live there: white, educated, and middle- to upper-income.”
SAVI refers to the process of racial and cultural displacement driven by an increase in housing demand as gentrification and uses factors such as average family income and percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree as a measuring stick.
Despite the population decline between 1990 and 2010, the report shows that reverse migration by white Indy residents from the suburbs to the city began well before the rise in recent census data.
Between 1996 and 1998, $15.3 million was generated between public and private partnerships, $4 million of which came from a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to develop new-construction homes in Fall Creek Place.
Not long after, one of the early, most significant signs of gentrification happened within Fall Creek Place between 2000 and 2010, which changed faster than any neighborhood in Indianapolis in decades, according to the report by SAVI. In 2000, one-tenth of residents had bachelor’s degrees. Only a decade later, half the neighborhood had bachelor’s degrees. Meanwhile, the average family income jumped from $40,750 to $103,339 during the same time frame.
The impact of Indy’s changing demographics
Since 2010, the growing number of the white population in Indianapolis is estimated to have increased by roughly 19,458, but still trends downward in percentage as they may have been collectively outpaced by the growth of minority groups. Over the last decade, the Black population grew by an estimated 21,482, the Hispanic population by 13,029 and the Asian population by 12,424, according to the 2019 ACS.
“There is a concerted effort by the city to try and get people to move back downtown,” Mullins said. “And there is a measure of success. They keep building these damn buildings and somebody is moving into them.”
But as demand increases and price follows, it pushes out the predominantly low-income, Black populations that have historically resided there as a result of not being allowed to live anywhere else when they first arrived in the ‘30s and ’40s, Mullins said.
“(People of color) don’t appear to be the audience that all these realtors are appealing to,” said Mullins, “even though they’re moving into historically Black neighborhoods.”
The impact of this can be witnessed as high poverty rates, historically concentrated within downtown Indianapolis neighborhoods, begin to shift outwards towards the edges of the city. Meanwhile, poverty rates are plummeting in the city’s center.
“North Indianapolis and West Indianapolis, two neighborhoods near downtown, experienced double-digit increases in the poverty rate, and neighborhoods near Fountain Square and 10th and Rural experienced double-digit declines,” according to a 2019 report on the changing landscape of poverty by SAVI.
Mullins said the irony of gentrification in Indianapolis, which often uses the term “historical” to upsell houses and condos, is that it prices out Black people while omitting that the neighborhoods are historically Black.
Indiana Avenue, once considered the Broadway of Black Indianapolis during the 1930s and ’40s, is an example.
The downtown development boom that brought upscale apartments and other commercial developments, along with the emergence of IUPUI, has transformed much of the historically Black avenue. Along Indiana Avenue near Bush Stadium, during 2010-2016, the key factors indicating gentrification, including white share of the population, average family income and percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree all went up significantly, according to the report by SAVI.
Contact IndyStar reporter Brandon Drenon at 317-517-3340 or BDrenon@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonDrenon.
Brandon is also a Report for America corps member with the GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world.
Report for America, funded by both private and public donors, covers up to 50% of a reporter’s salary. It’s up to IndyStar to find the other half, through local community donors, benefactors, grants or other fundraising activities.
If you would like to make a personal, tax-deductible contribution to his position, you can make a one-time donation online or a recurring monthly donation via IndyStar.com/RFA.
You can also donate by check, payable to “The GroundTruth Project.” Send it to Report for America, IndyStar, c/o The GroundTruth Project, 10 Guest Street, Boston, MA 02135. Please put IndyStar/Report for America in the check memo line.
#racial #makeup #Indianapolis #numbers