When the 113th Congress was sworn in earlier this year, media outlets and civil-rights advocates hailed the incoming freshmen class as the most diverse in history.
Indeed, the numbers alone sound impressive: 101 women; 42 African-Americans, 31 Hispanics, 12 Asian-Americans, and seven openly gay or bisexual members.
The Next America team wanted to visualize just how representative our Congress membership is, so we compared, by state, the number of minority representatives with the proportion of minority residents. We discovered that the number of nonwhite representatives appeared to be proportional to the higher concentration of nonwhite residents.
For example, in California, a majority-minority state, 21 of its 53 members of the House of Representatives were nonwhite. Similarly in Texas, where the majority is also nonwhite, 10 members of the House were nonwhite.
The lack of minority representation across the U.S. was also clear: Most of the Midwest — lower in minority populations — had zero minority representatives. A map published earlier this year charting minority representation by congressional district indicates that the total number of minorities is just barely one-third of the House. Minorities make up about 36 percent--just over a third — of the U.S. population.
One caveat: There was no mathematical calculation involved that can link any causation or correlation between the percentage of nonwhite residents and the number of nonwhite representatives. We're simply mapping the numbers as we found them.
The map below does not account for the senators of color: Each state, of course, has two senators, but in total, serving the Senate to start the 113th Congress are three Hispanics, two African-Americans, and one Asian-American. Those six individuals, serving in a body of 100, means, at 6 percent, the Senate is not reflective of the larger U.S. minority population, which is about 36 percent, as mentioned above.
Use the interactive tool below to explore for yourself.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
This article is part of our Next America: Communities project, which is supported by a grant from Emerson Collective.