Art of Life/Donna Parker


Racism in America


I came across a video entitled, “The Top 10 Most Racist Cities in America.” I was intrigued by the title, shocked by what I found and I felt compelled to do more research. The following is a summary of results from a number of studies published in the last few years.

While no area is free from discrimination or racial disparities, there are a number of U.S. metro areas where the differences are much starker. In these areas, there are significant gaps in income, poverty, educational attainment, unemployment, and other measures between Black and White residents.

Of the worst cities for Black Americans, 13 are located in the Midwest. Six are in the Northeast, and just one metro area is in the West. In each of these cities, White median household incomes are tens of thousands of dollars higher than Black median household incomes, and their poverty rates are lower. Black residents in these metro areas are much less likely to hold a high school diploma or college degree than white residents. Lower levels of high school attainment can drive down wages and make it more difficult to find a job. Unemployment rates are also far higher among the Black labor force than among the area’s white labor force.

First let’s start with a common definition of racism as a belief that a particular race of people is inferior or superior to another and that a person’s biological characteristics predetermine his or her moral or social traits.

Racism takes many forms in different regions of the United States and the world, depending on factors such as skin color, cultural, religious, historical, or economic factors.

The specific indicators and categories used in the studies I reviewed were based on the following criteria: median household income, poverty, adult high school and bachelor’s degree attainment, homeownership, unemployment, incarceration rates, and mortality. While this does not take into account discrimination against other groups such as Hispanics or Asians, it gives a good idea of social and economic discrimination and conditions for non-White citizens.

Based on the resulting data, the Top Five U.S. Cities with the Worse Racial Equity are:

  1. St. Cloud, MN
  2. Racine, WI
  3. Milwaukee and Waukesha WI
  4. Springfield, IL
  5. Peoria, IL

The results show that Black Americans are still the most discriminated-against groups of people in the United States. But what surprised me the most, was that Wisconsin has the largest disparity between Black and White residents in the nation, when you add up the disparities between the four Wisconsin cities listed in the study.

  • Wisconsin has the largest racial disparity between Black and White residents in the nation.
  • A majority of the states with the largest racial disparity are in the Midwest, while Southern states fare better.

When a person critiques America, for the racism that is deeply embedded in our social institutions, some may feel they are being personally attacked. This is because deep down they realize that they benefit from being associated with whiteness. This is important, because racism is a notoriously tricky thing to measure. Traditional survey methods do not really work if you flat-out ask someone if they are racist, they will simply tell you no. That is partly because most racism in society today operates at the subconscious level, or gets vented anonymously online.

People are pushing for America to reach its true ideals and the only way this can properly occur is by openly acknowledging the systemic barriers that prevent us from getting there. Moreover, it is not that racial progress has not been made. It is that the United States has yet to make enough progress.

Freedom and Justice for All