People of African Descent in New York City

The Center for Law and Social Justice People of African Descent in NYC: Communities of Interest report identifies where people of African descent are located throughout New York City. It specifies increases, declines, population shifts, swaps, and where there appears to be some growth of population of people of African descent in non-traditional NYC neighborhoods. (New York City remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the USA.)

People of African descent identify themselves along ethnic lines such as African American, Caribbean, West Indian, Afro Latino, and African Immigrant. In contrast, the Census Bureau excludes the Afro-Latino population from the Black people of African Descendent count; and, has different names for each group. African Americans are denoted by the Census Bureau as Black Alone; all Caribbeans are erroneously denoted as Black West Indian; and the Census usually categorizes Continental African Immigrants as sub-Saharan Africans. The fourth category for people of African descent is multiracial Black.

 

Identifying these ethnic groups is important because they set the foundation for major Communities of Interest (COI) for people of African descent, which assists in how people of African descent are counted, and how they will be grouped into legislative districts.

HIGHLIGHTS
  •  Over the last decade, the total population for people of African descent in NYC has increased from 2,192,344 to 2,195,000.

  • The Bronx saw an increase for most communities of interest among people of African descent – Black multiracial, Black alone or African American, and Continental Africans – but saw a significant decrease in its Black West Indian population.

  • In Brooklyn, three out of the four categories of the people of African descent discussed in this research (Black West Indians, Continental Africans, and multiracial Blacks) plateaued in the middle of the decade, while the African American population continued to increase. Community districts that do not ordinarily have large populations of people of African descent also made noteworthy gains.

  • Manhattan had a minimal population shift, with Central Harlem retaining its majority for people of African descent.  Like Brooklyn, Manhattan saw an increase for people of African descent in community districts that are not “traditionally” considered home for them.

  • Queens witnessed slight population shifts for people of African descent in most of its community districts; and like other counties, increases in community districts that have not “traditionally” been home to people of African descent.

  • Staten Island saw a slight population shift as it gained a significant headcount for people of African descent throughout the decade.  However, only one of its community districts saw a slight increase, with the other two witnessing a minimal decrease. 

  • Continental African populations also experienced a decline, with Brooklyn accounting for approximately 68% of this decline, followed by Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. 

  • Another stark contrast that stood apart from the upward trend of the population count of people of African descent is the downward trend of the Black Caribbean/West Indian community in NYC.  The Black West Indian population decreased by 135,749. Brooklyn accounted for 54% of this decline, followed by the Bronx coming in at a distant second with approximately 23% of the fall, and Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island accounting for the remaining 23% of NYC’s Black West-Indian population decline.  

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A QUICK GLANCE