HOW FAR HAVE WE COME?

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One study determines progress has been made in closing the ‘quality of life’ gap between Black and White Americans.
BY THE FLORIDA COURIER STAFF

JOHN ROTTET/RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER
In this 2007 file photo, marchers in Raleigh, N.C.
remembered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
With the nation in the midst of reflection on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a recent study indicates that America’s Black-White racial gap is closing, but there’s still work to be done.

To measure America’s progress in harmonizing the two racial groups (Hispanics/Latinos were not measured), the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2018’s “States with the Most Racial Progress.”

Measuring the gaps
WalletHub measured the gaps between Blacks and Whites across 23 key indicators of equality and integration in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The measurements ranged from median annual income to standardized-test scores to voter turnout. It ranked the states and the District of Columbia based on two key measures.

Racial integration was determined by subtracting the values attributed to Whites and Blacks for a given metric, using only the most recent available data.

Racial progress was determined by subtracting the values attributed to Whites and Blacks for a given metric, using the oldest available data and the most recent.

Key statistics
Overall, Florida is ranked 23rd in racial progress. The state ranks 13th in employment and wealth, 19th in health, 31st in education, 41st in social and civic engagement.

•The District of Columbia has the lowest gap in homeownership rates between Whites and Blacks, at 11.88 percent. Connecticut has made the most progress in closing this gap since 1970, with a change of 7.71 percent.

•Hawaii has the lowest gap in median annual household incomes between Whites and Blacks, at 8.08 percent. Wyoming has made the most progress in closing this gap since 1979, with a change of 36.50 percent.

•South Dakota has the lowest gap in unemployment rates between Whites and Blacks, at 1.94 percent. North Dakota has made the most progress in closing this gap since 1970, with a change of 12.25 percent.

•Hawaii has the lowest gap in poverty rates between Whites and Blacks, at 1.55 percent. Mississippi has made the most progress in closing this gap since 1970, with a change of 24.27 percent.

•Hawaii has the lowest gap in business-ownership rates between Whites and Blacks, at 38.40 percent. Texas has made the most progress in closing this gap since 2002, with a change of 7.08 percent.

•Idaho has the lowest gap in the share of adults 25 years and over with at least a bachelor’s degree between Whites and Blacks, at 0.07 percent, and has made the most progress in closing this gap since 1970, with a change of 6.42 percent.

Legal, cultural causes

Irving
Joyner
Irving Joyner, professor of law at North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, N.C., says legalized discrimination is one of the causes of the persistent racial gap.

“Historically, the wealth gap began with slavery, but became more pronounced and widespread during the long-term era of de jure (legal) and de facto segregation and racial discrimination. This discrimination prohibited meaningful participation by African-Americans in politics, business, housing and education and was practiced by individuals, corporations and our state and federal government,” he said.

“The effect of the many discriminatory practices, racial bigotry and racial violence prevented the early accumulation and long-term distribution of wealth by African-Americans…(P)resent-day generations of African-Americans were forced to begin their economic life at a sufficient economic deficit, which they had to repeatedly dig out of without having the necessary capital or financial literacy to do so.

“White households and Whites, in general, have never had to confront this prolonged and passionate level of discrimination and racial bias in politics, business, economics, housing and education,” Joyner explained.

Little ‘cross-over’

Brian L.
Turner
Brian L. Turner, assistant professor of psychology at Xavier University in New Orleans, cited cultural isolation as a factor.

“Many of the barriers are caused by continued racial tension set in the lack of cross-cultural experiences. Many Americans still to this day do not have to cross over into different cultural communities. This is even truer for many White Americans, who very rarely have to attend any institution that is not predominately White…. (C)ommunities of color more likely don’t control the access, opportunity, or information possible to achieve a greater piece of the American pie.”

What’s next?
“The solution to this problem is not simple,” Joyner exclaimed. “A beginning could be accomplished by some meaningful form of reparation, but that is not a viable political option.”

Turner focused on small businesses.

“We have to become innovative and creative in how traditional entities provide support to businesses, entrepreneurs, and other persons of color, who may not have the traditional or mainstream business model or ‘storefront,’ but they provide a valuable and viable service that provides opportunity and economic equity in communities of color. Examples come to mind of beauty salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, mom-and-pop restaurants, etc. These are all entities that if our authorities looked to, they could find real ways to assist in reducing gaps.”

Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Bureau of Justice Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Visit flcourier.com for a link to view more details from the report.

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