Key Takeaways From a Report on Racial Gaps

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The Urban League calculates an “equality index” that weighs economic factors, health, education, social justice and civic engagement to compare African-Americans to whites.

The group found that whites outgained blacks in all of those categories except social engagement, and assigned an overall equality rating of 72.3 percent, meaning that black people “are missing about 28 percent of the pie.” That figure is almost exactly in line with last year’s rating.

The index for Hispanics compared to whites this year was 78.4 percent.

While the Urban League was generally complimentary of Mr. Obama, it said that “the Obama years were no panacea for America’s longstanding racial inequities.”

Civil rights advocates have praised Mr. Obama for expanding health care and increasing financial aid for colleges, but his tenure was also marked by increased rates of gun violence in many cities and several instances of unrest after police officers killed black men.

Did the report identify regional trends?

The racial disparities vary widely from city to city. In the Milwaukee area, which the report called the nation’s “least equal metro area,” the unemployment rate among blacks was 13.8 percent, compared with 2.7 percent among whites. But around Omaha, the gap was much smaller, with 4.9 percent unemployment for blacks and 2.7 percent for whites.

In parts of the Great Lakes region, including Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Toledo, Ohio, the report found that white households on average earned more than twice as much as black households.

Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson of Toledo, a Democrat, said in an interview that Mr. Trump’s proposed cuts to federal urban development and education programs could be especially harmful to manufacturing cities like hers, which are seeking to reduce poverty and adapt to the changing economy.

“His policies, as stated,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said, “are not designed for minorities, for black people, for urban citizens.”

What has the Trump administration said?

Mr. Trump has taken repeated interest in urban issues, especially violence, and on the campaign trail released a “New Deal for Black America” that called for cracking down on crime and improving education through school choice.

The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has expressed skepticism about consent decrees between the Justice Department and local police agencies found to have engaged in a pattern of discriminatory practices. In its report, the Urban League called the Trump administration’s stance on consent decrees “a retreat on common-sense police reform.”

The consent decree question has been especially fraught here in Chicago, a city dealing with parallel crises of a high murder rate and a police force that is mistrusted in some of the most violent neighborhoods. Shortly before Mr. Obama left office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago said he intended to work toward a consent decree, though one has not materialized during the Trump administration.

Mr. Trump has weighed in frequently on Chicago’s violence, threatening to “send in the Feds!” if local officials do not solve the problem. Shari Runner, the president and chief executive of the Chicago Urban League, said she saw such talk by Mr. Trump as a barrier to improving the Chicago Police Department and addressing some of the city’s other longstanding problems.

“It’s a talking point,” Ms. Runner said, “and I think there’s very little knowledge or insight into what’s happening in Chicago.”

Continue reading the main storySource: New York Times – Politics

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