As we look to 2015 and the challenges and opportunities that belie us in the country, we could not ignore the findings of a recent report issued by 24/7 Wall Street that ranks the worst states for Black Americans from a quality-of-life perspective.
Some startling facts remain about our future and perhaps begin to shed enlightenment on the depth of racial tension and hopelessness that too often permeates many communities across the nation. For example, Black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed; and the percentage of black men ages 16-24 without a job is devastatingly high at 26 percent nationally. Black children are more likely to live in poverty, and many of their parents (if employed) make 62 cents for every dollar earned by whites. Probably most disturbing, the unemployment rate among college-educated blacks is still twice that of their white counterparts, which challenges the notion that merely attaining a degree is the sole answer to addressing economic inequality.
The report takes into account a number of socioeconomic measures including – rates of employment and incarceration, educational and homeownership opportunities, and access to basic necessities and social services – to assess the states’ overall conditions related to blacks’ well-being. Arkansas lands itself on the “Top 10” list of worst states for Black Americans, and it is the only southern state among the other nine. It is also the state with the highest black population (15.7%) in this group of 10.
We know that the racial disparities here and everywhere are systemic, complex and entrenched. However, the effects of contemporary racial segregation are primary drivers of how blacks fare as a whole. Property values, quality of schools, job opportunities, affordable health insurance, and the effectiveness of public safety significantly define the quality of life for all Americans. When these provisions are either lacking or subpar along racial lines, the entire community, city, and state suffer.
The report cites that despite the state’s nearly 16% black population, Arkansas does not have a single black representative in the United States Congress. This in and of itself cannot explain why such glaring racial disparities exist, but stronger advocacy on behalf of the Arkansans who are being left behind must become a clarion call of EVERY elected official if the state is to ever prosper.
Please read the full article at 24/7 Wall Street Special Report and join us in helping to get Arkansas off the “Worst States for Black Americans” list altogether.
With your support, we CAN make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity.
Dr. Michael R. Twyman
Director, UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity
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The Institute on Race and Ethnicity at UALR was founded in July 2011. With a vision to make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, the Institute conducts research, promotes scholarship and provides programs that address racial inequities. It does so by facilitating open and honest dialogue aimed at empowering communities and informing public policy to achieve more equitable outcomes. For more information, visit ualr.edu/race-ethnicity or the Institute’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Arkworktogether.