A new analysis of the language that people use when they tweet shows that in Maryland, race is on our minds in a big, big way.
According to analysis by the online rental service Abodo, Baltimore leads the nation in tweeting racial slurs against African-Americans, with 82 anti-black tweets per 100,000. In analysis by state, Maryland, not coincidentally, has the second highest rate of derogatory tweets against black people, lagging behind only West Virginia.
But -- somewhat confusingly -- Maryland also comes out on top in terms of generating positive and neutral tweets about African-Americans. What's more, for every belittling tweet about a black person generated in Maryland (36.5 per 100,000) there were more than three neutral or positive tweets (127.5 per 100,000).
Abodo did not break down positive tweets about black people by city. But it seems clear that in the year that included the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent unrest, a whole lot of people in Baltimore and Maryland were talking about race.
The study, titled "America's most P.C. [politically correct] and prejudiced places," analyzed the language in 12 million tweets posted nationwide between June 2014 and December 2015. In addition to looking at prejudice against black people, Abodo also analyzed slurs against other racial groups and religions, gay people, women, disabled people and overweight people.
Not everyone tweets, and those who don't tend to be older than those who do.
The U.S. population in 2014 was 318.9 million. Even in the unlikely possibility that the 12 million tweets analyzed by Abodo over those 18 months were all made by individual users, the study represents the attitudes of at most 3.76 percent of the American population.
In general, the Abodo study concludes, the cities and states with the highest number of remarks about a particular group are also the states and cities with the largest populations of these groups.
Other findings from the study include:
- Maryland ranked fourth in the use of derogatory language overall, with 895 pejorative tweets per 100,000. Wyoming, with just 120 disparaging tweets per 100,000, was deemed the least prejudiced state.
- Baltimore placed eighth in generating misognyistic tweets, with 931 slurs against women per 100,000 tweets. (This analysis excludes the term "bitch," a word that, while insulting, is often stripped of sexist intent.)
- Buffalo, N.Y. leads the nation in homophobic tweets, with 168 put-downs per 100,000. Baltimore does not make the list -- though Maryland ranks fourth in smears against transgender people like Caitlin Jenner, with eight insults per 100,000.
- Maryland ranks fifth in disparaging overweight people, with 57.8 negative tweets per 100,000. However, weight-conscious Maryland also leads the other 49 states when it comes to neutral or positive language about the obese, with 3.8 tweets per 100,000 using such terms as "plus-sized."