Who The Census Misses by Jasmine Mithani

As someone who has always fallen into the racial category of “other,” this piece was extremely meaningful to me. Coming off of the heels of the 2020 U.S. Decennial Census, one of the most newsworthy items was the rise in people identifying as multiracial — other “others,” so to speak. The other was the drop in people who identified as white.

We used those data points as an entrance to a larger conversation, and visualized them both in the article. The greater point of the piece was to explore the people whose identities used to be on the fringes, grouped together in general categories, and who are now becoming a larger share of America’s population. We did a callout and many interviews with people who felt they weren’t represented in the definitive count of our nation. The visualizations gave added context to the voices we incorporated into the piece, showing how the idea of racial “whiteness” in rooted in slavery, land ownership and civil rights — basically contorting to the agenda of the era, be it color or ancestry. The narrative of feeling unrepresented was made even more clear when paired together with a visualization of how data categories were defined and shifted over time.

The smaller chart was drafted in Datawrapper, then edited in Adobe Illustrator to add more text annotations. The large range chart was drafted in R with ggplot2, then exported and finished in Adobe Illustrator. The table was made with an in-house tool.