Category Archives: race

Twitter Killed The Nightly Show

Last week marked the end of The Nightly Show, the Daily Show spinoff hosted by Larry Wilmore. It was a real shame, both because the show had great potential and moments of brilliance, and because its cancellation meant a real blow to the already meager diversity of late-night TV. So what went wrong?

Obviously, the proximal cause of the cancellation was low ratings. But why weren’t people watching? A part of the explanation is probably that there is simply not a large enough audience of people who are interested in / comfortable with the explicit emphasis on issues of race. But I’m not convinced that that is the entire reason.

I watched The Daily Show since forever, I loved Larry Wilmore’s segments, and I enthusiastically tuned in to The Nightly Show when it started. After a few weeks, though, I gave up, because it was boring. The problem wasn’t a lack of subject matter. Unfortunately, our country generates plenty of material to support a satirical news show with a focus on race.

The problem, in a word, is twitter. In a phrase, it’s the rise of short-form social media. Let’s rewind. For a long time — especially the ten or so years after 9/11 — The Daily Show offered some of the smartest takes on both news events and the traditional media coverage of those events. The format followed the standard topical-news satire formula of SNL’s Weekend Update and every late-night opening monolog: basically a series of one-liners. Even the correspondents’ segments were dominated by a series of thematically related one-liners. They were funny and intelligent, which is particularly impressive when the topics are actual news items, where the cycle of event to writers’ room to filming happens in less than a day.

For the last few years of Jon Stewart’s tenure, though, the show started feeling a little flat. Maybe Stewart was running out of steam — it’s certainly an exhausting schedule — but part of the story was the maturation of the ecosystem of twitter, facebook, and the like. When something newsworthy happens, the internet hivemind explores the space of one-liners with ruthless efficiency. A culture of appropriation and plagiarism means that a hundred minor variations emerge from the best takes, leading to fine-tuned joke optimization.

Over the past few years, when The Daily Show would cover a story that I had been following, I had often already heard some version of a lot of the punch lines. It’s not, I assume, that the writers were cribbing off of twitter, it’s just that the collective efforts of a million amateur comedians desperately vying for attention will outstrip any writers’ room.

Of course, if you weren’t following the news obsessively, The Daily Show was still great, it’s just that it was no longer special. There’s a limit to your show’s specialness when its content can be replicated by a Buzzfeed listicle of the 17 funniest takes on Trump’s latest gaffe. Trevor Noah’s Daily Show has been fine, but continues to suffer from this same fundamental problem: what it is offering is something that you can find a lot of places on the internet.

Contrast that with The Daily Show‘s other recent spinoff, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which feels vital in the way that The Daily Show did ten years ago. The key difference is its move towards longer-form pieces. It does the standard one liner–based news recaps, but this is a small part of the show. Each episode also features a deep dive on one topic. That deep dive features a lot of one-liners, but the featured topics are chronic societal problems, so they haven’t been freshly digested and regurgitated all over the internet.

Unfortunately, The Nightly Show went the other direction. Each show started off with the standard topical one-liners, but the show’s format centered around a round-table discussion among Wilmore and a mixture of guests and staff writers. The result was basically the equivalent of the sort of brainstorming session that might lead to a great topical news show. The results were occasionally brilliant, but more often resembled a comedy Before photo. The Daily Show‘s relevance declined when it became possible to replicate its comedy and insights with a well curated twitter feed. The Nightly Show is similar, but with less curation.

If there had been a network executive ten years ago with the courage to put The Nightly Show on the air, it might have been one of the most important shows of the decade. But now, the space of snarky news commentary and skepticism of traditional power structures is crowded — even after the demise of Gawker. The Nightly Show simply had too much competition for the limited number of eyeballs available for an in-depth look at race.

Launching The Nightly Show in a world with fully weaponized twitter is like launching a luxury rickshaw service in a city overrun with uber drivers. I hope someone figures out how to make this work. The combination of long-form investigations and elaborate stunts favored by Last Week Tonight is one option. (Next Week Tonight? Last Week Tomorrow?) But there must be some clever folks with other ideas. After all, people keep telling me that this is the golden age of television. Right?

Newspaper Misattributes Quote

The News-Enterprise of Lexington, KY published a story about a ceremony to celebrate local law enforcement. Here’s the opening (via):


If that’s a little squinty for you, here’s the money paragraph:

Hardin County Sheriff John Ward said those who go into the law enforcement profession typically do it because they have a desire to shoot minorities.

The online version of the story was quickly corrected to note that Sheriff John Ward had been misquoted.

Presumably, the quotation should have been attributed to “stuff everyone knows, but no one is willing to say out loud.”

The Weird Racism of Doctor Who

Is Doctor Who a racist show? On the surface, it seems like a silly question. After all, there have been a number of prominent non-white characters. Moreover, the interracial and same-sex relationships in the show are presented as run-of-the-mill, everyday occurrences. Perhaps relatedly, the franchise has a strong reputation for its diverse and well-rounded portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters.

This is one of the great affordances of science fiction. Particularly in a show set in the future (or at least set intermittently in the future, or in an alternate reality), you can take a strong prescriptive position, where the race, sex, or gender of someone’s romantic partner is unimportant or even uninteresting. Whether or not this would be a realistic expectation of how people would act in the real world, you can assert that obviously no one will care in the future. Or you can construct a plausible alternate universe where no one cares.

Basically, in science fiction, you can choose to portray certain aspects of your world not as they are, but as you believe they should be.

So the treatment of race and sexual orientation strikes me as the product of a conscious decision by a show with a progressive agenda. But that just makes the places where the show falls short all the more puzzling.

What do I mean? Well, there are two things, and I’ll go through each one separately. First, while there is a reasonable representation of non-white characters, they are almost entirely of African ancestry. People of South Asian descent (including Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh) appear infrequently and only in minor roles. This despite the fact that South Asians constitute by far the largest minority in England. Second is that the mixed-race romantic relationships between major characters don’t seem to work out.

First, let’s look at the racial diversity in the show. There are different ways to do this, and I’ve examined four possible approaches. All four give the same qualitative answer: the cast is about 85% white, and among the non-white characters, people of African ancestry outnumber people of South Asian ancestry by a ratio of somewhere between 4:1 and 8:1.

More specifically, a few weeks ago I went through IMDB for the new Doctor Who series (post 2005), and collected all of the (222) characters who appeared in at least two episodes. So, this data is current up to about 2/3 of the way through the new season, but the numbers are large enough that the past few episodes won’t change the results. For the vast majority of characters, it was straightforward to identify them as European, African, or South Asian. Only one actor, Chipo Chung, did not fit this categorization, being half Zimbabwean and half Chinese. For purposes of this analysis, she was given her own category.

Using these categorizations, I calculated the number of characters/actors of each race (where David Tenant counts as 1 European and Matt Smith counts as 1 European) as well as the number of character appearances of each race (where David Tenant contributes 52 appearances by a European and Matt Smith contributes 48 appearances by a European). Each of these was calculated both including and excluding Aliens — characters whose race was not perceptible in the show (Dalek operators, Silurians, etc.). Here are the results for the four combinations: Character Demographics

The code here is blue for European, green for African, mustard for South Asian, and red for Chipo Chung. The outermost ring (appearances by actors of identifiable race) is the one that seems to me to be the best match for what we’re interested in.

Of course, the question is, compared to what? The natural comparison would seem to be the demographic composition of the UK, since it’s a British show, and most of the scenes set on Earth are set there. Here, using the same color scheme, is what that looks like:

England Demographics

The first thing to note is that diversity, overall, is pretty good. By the four different metrics, Doctor Who’s cast is somewhere between 81% and 87% white. The thing that is striking is the difference in the composition of the non-white portion. In England, South Asians outnumber Africans by more than 2 to 1. In Doctor Who, Africans outnumber South Asians by 4.7 to 1 (counting characters) or 8.4 to 1 (counting appearances). That’s a distortion of 10-fold or more.

What about the mixed-race romantic issues? There are three big ones: Rose and Mickey, Martha pining after the Doctor, and Clara and Danny in the season that just concluded. Let’s review.

When Rose first becomes a companion, she is dating Mickey. She sort of gradually breaks up with him and becomes attached to the Doctor. Mickey keeps after her for a while, but eventually gives up. After some regeneration shenanigans, the Doctor sends his doppelganger off to live happily ever after with Rose in another dimension.

Martha is the Doctor’s next companion, and although she has a romantic interest in the Doctor, it is completely unrequited from start to finish. Eventually, Mickey and Martha become a couple in a (different) alternate dimension where they fight Cybermen all the time. So, what we have is two black characters who are in love with white characters, but are rejected by them. The two white characters fall in love, and the two black characters become a couple in what seems to be both of them settling for their second choice (in a dystopian hell-scape no less).

Until the season finale aired, I was holding out hope that the mixed-race romance between Clara and Danny would reach a happy conclusion. Instead we got a pattern similar to the other two. Danny was devoted to Clara, but while she loved him, her primary commitment was to the Doctor. The fact that Danny was and would always be playing second fiddle was spelled out in pretty explicit (and heartbreaking) detail in the finale.

Now, three is a small number, and you can always argue that this is just coincidence, rather than some systematic racial thing. I’m sure a dedicated enough Doctor Who apologist could rationalize the racial composition of the show as something unintentional. Or that we should cut them some slack because of all of the things the show does right.

What bothers me most, though, is that these patterns exist in a show that seems to have made a real effort to be careful about race, making me think they point to something really taboo. That despite a progressive agenda and a conscious effort to portray racial diversity, there are a couple of places that the show is unwilling or unable to go.

On the absence of South Asians, here’s the most generous theory I’ve come up with. Globally, American media has enormous reach and influence. Traditionally, having a diverse cast in American TV was more or less synonymous with having some African American characters. Only quite recently have other ethnic minority groups started to show up on TV in large numbers. So, maybe there’s a naive but deeply rooted notion in the minds of British producers that “diversity = black”. Maybe they’re unconsciously basing their model not on British society, but on American TV and movies of twenty years ago.

A less generous (but more plausible, in my mind) theory is that the show is simply avoiding engagement with the strongest form of British racism. My own experience, anecdotal though it is, is that most white British folks don’t really harbor negative racial stereotypes about immigrants from Africa — or immigrants of African descent from the Caribbean. However, attitudes toward South Asians are a very different (and offensive) story.

I have had multiple interactions that went something like this. British person talks about how racist Americans are, citing the treatment of African Americans. British person takes up moral high ground, citing their own open views towards Africans. British person says some really awful racist crap about Pakistanis or Indians — the sort of thing you never heard in public in post-Archie-Bunker, pre-Twitter America. When hypocrisy is pointed out, British person defends stance, saying something like, “You don’t have them. You don’t understand what they’re like.”

So, theory B is that if Mickey and Martha and Danny had all been Pakistani, Doctor Who might have alienated much of its British audience, including some people who self-identify as liberal. Or at least the producers feared that would happen. So, they cast black people for diversity, but avoid the racial group that is the focus of the greatest antipathy in Britain.

Similarly for the romantic relationships. Maybe it’s just coincidence that a white couple, Amy and Rory, get a happy ending (even if they do have to endure an insufferable series of World Series wins by the Yankees), while the mixed-race relationships fail when the white person just doesn’t feel quite the same way.

Or maybe the producers (rightly or wrongly) worry that Britain is not quite ready for a successful, normalized mixed-race couple, at least not one involving one of the show’s stars.

Or maybe the producers would say that this was just who the characters are, that it just would not seem right for Clara to go all in on her relationship with Danny. That given everything we’ve seen Clara go through, she would not be able to separate herself from the Doctor in that way. Fine. Perfectly defensible. But maybe if they had made Danny white, it would not have felt out of character to them.

Anyway, if Russell T. Davies and/or Steven Moffat are regular readers of the blog, I would invite them to share their take(s) in the comments.

12,000-Year-Old Underwater Skeleton and the Peopling of the Americas

So, a paper published in Science yesterday describes the analysis of the skull and mitochondrial DNA of a skeleton discovered in Hoyo Negro, a water-filled cave beneath the surface of the Yucatán Peninsula.  In addition to the human skeleton (whom the scientists named “Naia” before removing her head for further study), the cave contains the remains of 26 other large mammals, including a saber-tooth tiger and some sort of a mammoth-type thing.

Check out the story over at National Geographic for some cool underwater pictures.

There are a couple of things that make this an interesting story. First of all, it’s a freaking underwater cave with a 12,000-year-old human skeleton and a saber-tooth tiger. Second, it adds an interesting piece of data to our understanding of how people first came to America. (Spoiler: the answer is not “Jesus brought them on the Ark”.)

The standard story of the colonization of the Americas goes something like this. Back during the last ice age(s), maybe 15,000 to 25,000 years ago, the sea levels were lower, and there was a land bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska. During that period, people from Northeastern Asia crossed over and spread throughout North and South America. Thousands of years later, their descendants had the misfortune of being discovered by the Europeans.

The dates of archaeological sites throughout the hemisphere generally fit with this story, as do genetic data collected from contemporary Native Americans and from skeletal remains. Native Americans, both past and present, are genetically most closely related to the peoples of Siberia, and the genetic divergence between the two groups is consistent with the populations having separated around the time when the land bridge existed.

The problem is that when you look at skull shapes (“cranio-facial morphology”), they seem to tell a different story.  Contemporary Native Americans have facial features similar to those found in Northeastern Asia. But “Paleoamericans” (dating from more than about 9,000 years ago) have features more closely resembling those found in African and Southeast Asian populations.

Those features suggest a different story, one where humans arrived in America in two waves. In this scenario, the humans who crossed the Bering land bridge would be the second wave, perhaps displacing the original, first-wave settlers. This is a story that entered the public consciousness more than fifteen years ago, following the discovery of “Kennewick Man”, who was described as possessing “caucasoid” features by James Chatters, who is also the first author on this paper. A certain strain of “thinker” took this to mean that the White people who came to America were not colonizers, but liberators, having been the continent’s original inhabitants.

The single-wave model suggests the possibility that the difference in skull morphology observed between earlier and later Paleoamericans represents evolutionary change that occurred after the migration across the land bridge. At first blush, this seems a bit questionable, since it would have the American population evolving to more closely resemble their genetic relatives in Asia, but only after having become geographically separated from those relatives.

The persistence of this controversy is due, in part, to the fact that the genetic data has generally come from different sources than the morphological data. This is where Naia comes in. Naia has the longer, more slender, Africa-esque cranium found in other early sites, but her mitochondrial DNA haplotype is a typical Native American one. This seems to support the idea that the people who left these narrow skulls all over America and the people who left their descendants all over America were the same people.

The biggest caveat, of course, is that this is a single skeleton. It is exciting and informative, since very few samples of this age have been discovered, and none of them have been of this quality. But those small numbers also mean that anything we discover about this skeleton is bound to be consistent with multiple stories, and things are unlikely to be resolved without a lot more data.

The other caveat is that the mitochondrial DNA is only one piece of the genetic history. It is possible that these really were two separate populations, and that Naia just happened to have some second-wave ancestors on her mother’s side. If we were to examine the rest of her genome, we might find some or all of it to be more similar to some other population (like the lost thirteenth tribe, who immigrated to America from Israel and/or Kobol).

Will we get the rest of Naia’s genome? I hope so, but we’ll see. It is relatively easy to collect mitochondrial DNA from archaeological samples, since there are hundreds of copies of the small, circular mitochondrial chromosome in each cell. There are only two copies per cell of the rest of the genes, which reside in the cell’s nucleus. So, it is possible that the sample was sufficiently well preserved that mitochondrial DNA could be extracted, but degraded enough that the nuclear DNA is not recoverable.

Whatever the eventual conclusion, the story will be interesting. Either the peopling of America involved a mixture of multiple populations that will be fun to unravel, or it involved some interesting, almost convergent, morphological evolution. Stay tuned!

Here’s your White History Month(s), Asshole

So, it’s Black History Month again, which means that it’s time for whiny racists to renew their annual cry of, “Why isn’t there a White History Month? Isn’t that reverse racism, which is really just racism? You know, whites are actually this country’s second class citizens.” And so on.

There are two responses that you normally hear, both of which I am sympathetic to. The snarky one is that every other month is basically white history month. The earnest one is that we need a black history month because the history and contributions of African Americans are still underrepresented in the public consciousness when compared with the canonical history of the Washingtons and Roosevelts.

But there is another, less snarky version of the first answer, which is that there are, in fact, numerous recognized history and heritage months celebrating the history and contributions of people who are by and large subsets of “white.”

So, here, for future reference, are your White History Months, (as per this Awareness Month Calendar from Nellis Air Force Base):

  • March: Irish-American Heritage Month
  • March: Greek-American Heritage Month
  • April: Arab-American Heritage Month
  • April: Tartan (Scottish-American) Heritage Month
  • May: Jewish-American Heritage Month
  • July: French-American Heritage Month
  • September 15 – October 15: German-American Heritage Month
  • October: Italian American Heritage Month
Other, non-Black Heritage Months:
  • May: Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
  • June: Caribbean-American Heritage Month
  • November: Native-American Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage month is also September 15 – October 15. From a legal perspective, “Hispanic” is an ethnic identity that is orthogonal to race, so that you can be “White Hispanic” or “Black Hispanic” when you’re filling out your equal opportunity questionnaire. So, Hispanic Heritage Month might count as a sort of partial White History Month. I’ve left it out of the list, though, since I suspect that most people who are complaining about the lack of a White History Month don’t mean to include Hispanics when they say “White.” Similarly, Women’s History Month (March).
In addition, you can find, at the state and local level, History Months and Weeks for Russians, Swedes, Dutch, Czechs, and on and on.
For the White Survivalists out there, there’s even a National Preparedness Month (September).
Also, Movember.

Lost in Transcription Exclusive: Mitt Romney’s Comedy Routine

So, this morning, Mitt Romney came up with an interesting new strategy designed to divert attention from his quite possibly illegal tax history, his party’s extremist abortion position, and general unlikability: he launched a stand up comedy routine. Speaking in Michigan, he cracked this gem straight out of the Birther Bathroom Jokebook:

No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.

See, it’s hilarious because he’s white! And Obama is black!

So, what other bon mots can we expect from Romney as he takes his routine to Tampa? Here at Lost in Transcription, we’ve received this advance list of jokes, which were allegedly written by Dane Cook’s racist brother, and will be dropped at the Republican National Convention next week to much hooting and cheering from the hungover and overstimulated delegates. Here are a few of the most hilarious:

No one ever arrested me in Arizona!

No one ever stopped and frisked me in New York!

No one ever renditioned me to Guantanamo!

No one ever questioned my right to stand my ground!

No one ever paid me 77 cents on the dollar to do the same job!

No one ever assumed I was the gardener!

No one ever put my grandparents in an oven!

No one ever questioned my right to get married! 

No one ever put my family on a reservation! 

No one ever held me down and cut my hair!

No one ever denied me health insurance!

See, they’re all so funny, because Mitt has lived a life of incredible privilege!

How about you, readers? Have your inside sources uncovered any material? If so, please share it in the comments.

Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor

So, it’s not often that something exciting happens on C-SPAN, but here you go. Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) was speaking out against racial profiling, when he pulled off his jacket to reveal a stealth hoodie. He proceeded to put the hood up, prompting acting speaker Gregg Harper (R-MS) to start gavel banging and un-recognizing. Eventually, he calls the sergeant-at-arms to remove Rush.

Awesomely, the clip concludes with Harper saying, “Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pro-circumcision bias bordering on religious discrimination to me.

via Daily Kos.

Egypt Week – I, Too, Sing Egypt

So, this will be a non-science Egypt Week post. Opposition organizers in Egypt have called for a massive protest on Tuesday, anticipating that millions will march on Tahrir Square in the morning. Here is hoping that this leads to better things.

Below is the text of the Langston Hughes poem I, Too, Sing America. While it was obviously written in the context of racial dynamics and inequality in the United States, its sense of hope, defiance, and the inevitability of justice speaks for oppressed and dismissed people everywhere.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

Peace be upon you.

State-by-State FST(ish) Values: The Structure of Racial Diversity in America

So, in the world of population genetics, as in the real world, people are often interested in diversity, and in how that diversity is distributed. In biological contexts, quantifying these things is important because it gives us insight into the processes – like reproduction, migration, selection, etc. – responsible for generating the observed patterns of diversity.

Here I look at how racial diversity is apportioned among counties (or county equivalents) in each of the 50 states, using two different statistics derived from the population genetics and ecology literature. Hit the jump for the analysis, and scroll down to skip the introduction and go straight to the maps.

One of the earliest and most enduring quantities in population genetics is FST. This quantity (along with various closely related “F”s with different subscripts) is an attempt to create a metric of population differentiation that is independent of the overall level of diversity. There are a variety of ways of formulating FST, depending on the type of data you’re thinking about, but all are something like this:

FST = (Db – Dw) / Db

Here, FST is a measure of differentiation between or among subpopulations. Dw is the diversity within subpopulations, and Db is the diversity among subpopulations. As you can see, if you simply double the level of diversity (both within and among subpopulations), this measure of differentiation will be unchanged.

The concept of FST was developed 80-90 years ago, primarily by Sewall Wright, who examined and characterized some of its properties within highly simplified and idealized models of population structure. Then, 40-50 years ago, people started thinking about ways to estimate this quantity from genetic data. A lot of FST-related statistics have been developed, but I will described just one here, which compares the observed and expected levels of heterozygosity:

GST = 1 – HO/HE

HE is the observed level of heterozygosity. Roughly speaking, we look at some gene all of the individuals in the population. Each person has two copies of the gene. If the two copies are the identical, the person is homozygous; if they are different, the person is heterozygous. The observed heterozygosity simply the fraction of people who carry two different copies.

The expected heterozygosity, HE is calculated by taking all of the genes in the population and mixing them together. Now, draw two gene copies at random and ask, what is the probability that the two gene copies are different?

If the population is completely well mixed, HO and HE will be nearly the same, and GST will be close to zero. Elevated levels of GST result from non-random mating. For example, if the population consists of two isolated subpopulations, those subpopulations will tend to contain different versions of the gene, but there will be no one who has one copy of a variant from subpopulation 1 and a variant from subpopulation 2. Thus, there will be a reduced number of heterozygotes in the population, relative to what you would get if you mixed all of the genes in the two subpopulations together.

This notion of heterozygosity is not limited to genetic contexts, however, and we can do the equivalent calculation for any trait that can be divided into distinct categories (even if those categories are somewhat arbitrary social constructs like “race”).

Here’s an illustration. I have taken data from the 2009 American Community Survey, aggregated at the level of individual counties. I calculate the “observed heterozygosity” from the frequencies of different races in each county. Imagine that within each county, we paired people at random. The HO calculated here is the fraction of these randomly paired couples who would have mixed-race children. In this calculation, I have assumed that if one parent self-identifies as “two or more races,” the children are mixed race, independent of the race of the other parent. Also, for simplicity, I have aggregated all subdivisions of “hispanic” into a single category. The HE here is calculated from the same random-mating procedure applied at the level of the entire state.

Here is a map of the results, generated using the free, online map generator from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

Darker colors correspond to higher values of GST.

Now, it has been known for a long time that FST is not particularly well behaved. It is sensitive to things like the total number of distinct gene variants in the population and the total number of subpopulations. Recently, researchers have begun developing corrections to estimators of FST that are more robust to these deviations from the ideal models originally studied by Wright. One such correction was published a couple of years ago by Lou Jost, who proposed a metric, D, which demonstrably has many desirable properties that we would like to see from a statistic that describes population differentiation. In terms of the heterozygosities that go into GST, D is calculated like this:

D = [(HE-HO)/(1-HO)][n/(n-1)]

where n is the number of subpopulations. We can recalculate the racial “population differentiation” at the county level for each state. The new map looks like this:

As in the previous map, darker colors represent higher values of D.

Now, there are a lot of reasons to exercise caution in interpreting these values. The Jost correction used to generate the second corrects for certain problems associated with GST, but there is still an issue in that this analysis is based on aggregation at the county level. The geographical extent of counties varies enormously from state to state; the meaning of being in the same county in Utah is quite different from being in the same county in New York. Furthermore, the frequencies and identities of the groups vary among states in a way that will matter much more to any sociological analysis than will the numbers presented here. The FST-related statistics used here have been developed in the context of biological data, with the goal of understanding biological processes that are not necessarily analogous to the social processes that have driven the distribution of various groups in the US.

On the other hand, it is a lot more fun NOT to exercise caution. To that end, here is your list of the ten most racially differentiated states based on Jost’s D (second map):

Maryland, Texas, New York, Florida, Alaska, Mississippi, Georgia, New Mexico, New Jersey, California

And the ten least differentiated:

Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, Delaware, Minnesota, Idaho

If we go back to the raw GST (first map) the top-ten most differentiated are:

South Dakota, Maryland, North Dakota, Tennessee, New York, Montana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alaska

And the least:

Vermont, Maine, Delaware, New Hampshire, Hawaii, West Virginia, Connecticut, Nevada, Utah, Oregon

I will leave irresponsible speculation and stereotyping of the residents of different states as an exercise for the reader.

JOST, L. (2008). GST and its relatives do not measure differentiation
Molecular Ecology, 17 (18), 4015-4026 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.03887.x