Minneapolis and St. Paul tend to do well in quality of life rankings when it comes to things like bike paths and parks. But there’s one major thorn in our paw that presents only stubborn embarrassment: We suck at racial equity.
This dishonor is again being trumpeted in the last rankings by 24/7 Wall Street, which pegs us as the 4th worst place for black people in the country.
To reach its conclusions, the business site mined data from eight categories, including things like poverty, income, home ownership, employment rates, and schooling. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls area of Iowa ranked the worst, followed by Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin.
Though the Twin Cities finished out of medal contention, we made for a competitive runner-up. The authors described the metro as “highly segregated by race” with “some of the largest disparities in poverty, income, and home ownership between black and white residents of any U.S. metro area.”
The stats would back that thesis. Median black income ($31,000) is a mere 41 percent of white income. Black unemployment (12 percent) is three times the rate of white – and twice the national average. Meanwhile, black homeownership (24 percent) runs at but a third of white.
The study doesn’t do much to illuminate why any of this is occurring. It cites racial “housing covenants and exclusionary zoning policies” that remained long after World War II, but these were common across the country.
A better explanation might be the Twin Cities’ large African refugee population, since people can’t be expected to flee war and poverty, then find instantaneous success in a new land. But this too is unexplored in the study.
Whatever the reason, the Midwest as a whole tends to suck at the whole equity thing – especially Illinois. It landed six cities in the Top 15, including Peoria (5), Decatur (7), Kankakee (9), Springfield (11), Danville (13), and Chicago (15).
Meanwhile, the South – despite its history and general gift for regression – is at least superior to us on this count. Not a single Sun Belt city landed on the list, though only towns with a black population of 5 percent or more were included.