Samuel Stebbins

1. Wisconsin

> Poverty rate: 31.3% Black, 9.0% white
> Homeownership rate: 25.5% Black, 71.1% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.0% Black, 3.0% white
> Median household income: $31,351 Black, $64,377 white

Wisconsin ranks as the worst state in the country for Black Americans. Due in part to housing discrimination in cities like Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a highly segregated state, with over 50% of the Black population residing in majority Black neighborhoods. Segregation often fuels racial disparities, and many Black communities in Wisconsin are suffering. Black unemployment in the state stands at 10%, more than triple the 3.0% white jobless rate. Additionally, the typical Black household in the state earns just $31,351 a year, less than half the median income of $64,377 among white households in the state.

Inequalities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Black Wisconsin residents are over 12 times more likely than white residents to be incarcerated in a state of federal correctional facility. Black residents make up over 42% of the state’s prison population and only 6.3% of the overall population.

2. Minnesota

> Poverty rate: 28.6% Black, 7.3% white
> Homeownership rate: 24.3% Black, 76.0% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.8% Black, 3.0% white
> Median household income: $37,811 Black, $74,387 white

Racial gaps in several key socioeconomic outcomes makes Minnesota the second worst state in the country for Black Americans. Due to racial zoning and redlining, urban areas in Minnesota, particularly the Twin Cities, are among the most segregated places in the country. Housing segregation has given way to highly segregated public schools and vastly disparate education outcomes. Only 81% of Black adults in Minnesota have a high school diploma compared to over 95% of white adults. A high school education is a prerequisite for many employment opportunities, and the 8.8% Black unemployment rate across Minnesota is nearly three times the 3.0% white jobless rate.

Inequalities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Black Minnesota residents are over 10 times more likely than white residents to be incarcerated in a state of federal correctional facility. Black residents make up over 36% of the state’s prison population and only 6.3% of the overall population.

3. Iowa

> Poverty rate: 31.9% Black, 10.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 24.4% Black, 73.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.6% Black, 3.3% white
> Median household income: $32,139 Black, $62,097 white

In Iowa, Black residents are over nine times more likely to be incarcerated than white residents. Though only 3.6% of the state’s population are Black, over 25% of Iowans in a federal or state correctional facility are Black.

Such disparity contributes to inequality in other areas, including political and economic outcomes. For example, 11.4% of Black Iowans are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction compared to 1.5% of white Iowans. Incarceration and criminal records can also vastly reduce employment opportunities and earning potential. In Iowa, Black unemployment stands at 10.6% compared to the state’s 3.3% white unemployment rate. Additionally, the typical Black household in the state earns just $32,139 a year, well below the median income of $62,097 among white households in the state.

4. Illinois

> Poverty rate: 26.1% Black, 9.4% white
> Homeownership rate: 38.8% Black, 72.8% white
> Unemployment rate: 14.1% Black, 4.5% white
> Median household income: $38,573 Black, $71,922 white

Illinois is home to some of the most segregated cities in the country, including Chicago. Springfield, Rockford, Peoria, and Champaign-Urbana. Black communities in these cities are often underserved and have limited economic opportunity. Across Illinois, Black unemployment stands at 14.1%, more than three times the 4.5% white jobless rate – the largest unemployment gap in the country.

Due in part to the high Black unemployment, the state also has significant racial disparities in income and earnings. The typical Black household in the state earns just $38,573 a year, about $33,300 less than the median income of $71,922 among white households in the state. Black Illinois residents are also more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to live below the poverty line.

6. Connecticut

> Poverty rate: 17.9% Black, 7.6% white
> Homeownership rate: 39.4% Black, 72.5% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.4% Black, 5.0% white
> Median household income: $49,000 Black, $85,502 white

Connecticut has some of the worst income inequality in the United States – and inequality along racial lines is one contributing factor. The typical Black household in the state earns just $49,000 a year, about $36,500 less than the median income of $85,502 among white households in the state. Income inequality is driven in part by disparities in the labor market, as Black workers in Connecticut are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts.

Inequalities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Black Connecticut residents are nearly 11 times more likely than white residents to be incarcerated in a state of federal correctional facility. Partially as a result, Connecticut ranks as the worst state for Black Americans in the Northeast.

7. Nebraska

> Poverty rate: 25.0% Black, 9.6% white
> Homeownership rate: 30.1% Black, 69.1% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.0% Black, 2.9% white
> Median household income: $35,976 Black, $63,641 white

Segregation can lead to unequal socioeconomic outcomes, and communities and schools in parts of Nebraska, including Omaha, have historically been, and continue to be, highly segregated. One of the most pronounced disparities in the state is in income. The typical Black household in the state earns just $35,976 a year, well below the median income of $63,641 among white households.

The state’s large income gaps along racial lines are attributable in part to inequality in the job market. Black unemployment in Nebraska stands at 8%, nearly triple the 2.9% white jobless rate.

8. New Jersey

> Poverty rate: 17.3% Black, 7.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 38.9% Black, 71.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.8% Black, 4.7% white
> Median household income: $53,247 Black, $88,810 white

New Jersey ranks as the eighth worst state for Black Americans overall and the second worst in the Northeast. Its ranking is due in large part to disparities in some key health outcomes. For example, the infant mortality rate among the state’s Black population stands at 9.9 for every 1,000 live births, compared to 3.2 per 1,000 among white New Jersey residents – the largest such gap of any state.

Inequalities are not just health related, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Only 12.7% of New Jersey’s population are Black, while more than 60% of those incarcerated in correctional facilities in the state are Black, the largest such disparity of any state.

9. Ohio

> Poverty rate: 29.6% Black, 11.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 35.6% Black, 71.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 11.5% Black, 4.3% white
> Median household income: $33,158 Black, $61,108 white

Ohio is home to several Rust Belt cities – such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dayton – that in the previous century, employed exclusionary housing covenants that entrenched segregated neighborhoods. As a result, Ohio remains one of the most segregated states in the country. Census data shows that 47% of Black Ohio residents live in majority Black neighborhoods. Segregation can lead to increased levels of inequity, and Ohio has some of the widest racial gaps in the country.

Some of the most glaring inequities in the state are economic. For example, the Black poverty rate of 29.6% in Ohio is nearly three times the 11.1% white poverty rate. Additionally, at 11.5%, Black unemployment is more than double the 4.3% white jobless rate.

10. Pennsylvania

> Poverty rate: 26.0% Black, 9.7% white
> Homeownership rate: 43.2% Black, 73.3% white
> Unemployment rate: 11.1% Black, 4.4% white
> Median household income: $38,560 Black, $65,306 white

Pennsylvania ranks as the 10th worst state for Black Americans and the third worst in the Northeast. Segregation can fuel racial disparities, and Pennsylvania is one of the more heavily segregated states, with about 47% of Black residents living in majority Black communities. One area of significant racial disparity in Pennsylvania is in the state’s job market. Black unemployment is an estimated 11.1% in the state, well more than double the 4.4% white unemployment rate.

Disparities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Though only 10.7% of Pennsylvania’s population are Black, 46% of those incarcerated in the state are Black.

11. Utah

> Poverty rate: 27.2% Black, 8.6% white
> Homeownership rate: 28.9% Black, 72.5% white
> Unemployment rate: 6.4% Black, 3.3% white
> Median household income: $41,752 Black, $73,580 white

Utah ranks as the worst Western state for Black Americans and the 11th worst state nationwide. Only 1.1% of the state’s population identify as Black. As the second to last state in the West to repeal bans on interracial marriages, the state has had racist laws on the books more recently than much of the rest of the country. Today, Black state residents are nearly nine times as likely as white residents to be incarcerated in a state or federal correctional facility.

Economic disparities in Utah are also profound. The typical Black household in the state earns just $41,752 a year, compared to the median income among white households of $73,580. Additionally, more than one in every four Black state residents live below the poverty line, compared to fewer than one in every 10 white residents, one of the largest such gaps of any state.

12. Louisiana

> Poverty rate: 31.4% Black, 12.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 47.2% Black, 74.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.0% Black, 4.8% white
> Median household income: $30,540 Black, $60,288 white

Like much of the Deep South, Louisiana had some of the most stringent and repressive segregation laws in the country, and the legacy of those policies loom large today. One of the most segregated states in the country, over 56% of Black Louisiana residents reside in majority Black communities. Many schools in the state are also largely segregated, which gives way to disparate educational outcomes. Currently, only about 80% of Black adults in Louisiana have a high school diploma, compared to 88% of white adults in the state.

Black Louisiana workers are also twice as likely to be unemployed and Black residents are twice as likely to live below the poverty line as their white counterparts.

13. New York

> Poverty rate: 21.1% Black, 10.4% white
> Homeownership rate: 31.3% Black, 63.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.1% Black, 4.3% white
> Median household income: $48,557 Black, $76,737 white

New York state has the highest degree of income inequality in the United States – and inequality along racial lines is one contributing factor. The typical Black household in the state earns just $48,557 a year, compared to the median income among white households of $76,737. Additionally, about one in every five Black state residents live below the poverty line, compared to one in every 10 white residents.

Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and the Black homeownership rate in New York of 31.3% is less than half the 63.6% homeownership rate among the state’s white population.

14. North Dakota

> Poverty rate: 25.7% Black, 8.4% white
> Homeownership rate: 7.8% Black, 65.9% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.3% Black, 2.2% white
> Median household income: $37,872 Black, $68,066 white

Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States. In North Dakota, the Black homeownership rate is just 7.8%, the lowest of any state and a fraction of the state’s 65.9% white homeownership rate. The North Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights conducted a study on access to fair housing in the state for minority populations and provided a list of recommendations in July 2021. These included harsher penalties for housing discrimination and increased investment in affordable housing.

Other stark disparities in the state include poverty, as more than one in every four Black North Dakotans live below the poverty line, compared to fewer than one in every 10 white residents. Additionally, even though only less than 3% of North Dakota’s population are Black, Black prisoners account for 12% of the state’s incarcerated population.

15. Maine

  • > Poverty rate: 34.8% Black, 11.1% white
  • > Homeownership rate: 22.1% Black, 73.3% white
  • > Unemployment rate: 7.5% Black, 4.0% white
  • > Median household income: $42,901 Black, $58,459 white

Based on racial disparities in several key socioeconomic measures, Maine ranks as the 15th worst state for Black Americans and second worst in the New England region. Maine has a Black poverty rate of 34.8%, the highest of any state and more than triple the white poverty rate in the state of 11.1%.

The higher likelihood of poverty for the state’s Black residents is likely partly the result of disparities in education outcomes. For example, only 82.5% of Black adults in Maine have a high school diploma, over 10 percentage points below the white high school diploma attainment rate. Black adults in Maine are also over nine times more likely than their white counterparts to be incarcerated in a state or federal correctional facility.

16. South Dakota

> Poverty rate: 22.9% Black, 8.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 19.2% Black, 71.5% white
> Unemployment rate: 3.8% Black, 2.4% white
> Median household income: $38,706 Black, $61,351 white

Only 2% of South Dakota’s population identify as Black, one of the smallest shares of any state – and the disparities between the state’s Black and white residents in key economic measures are among the largest in the country. For example, the Black poverty rate in the state of 22.9% is more than double the 8.8% white poverty rate.

South Dakota also incarcerates a far larger share of its Black residents than most states. A reported 1,547 in every 100,000 Black South Dakotans are in a state or federal correctional facility compared to only 242 white state residents per 100,000.

17. Mississippi

> Poverty rate: 31.6% Black, 12.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 53.5% Black, 77.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 11.1% Black, 5.2% white
> Median household income: $30,714 Black, $55,957 white

Mississippi has historically been one of the most segregated states in the country – and much of that segregation, and its effects, are apparent today. According to the census, nearly 57% of Black Mississippi residents currently live in majority Black neighborhoods, a larger share than in all but three other states. Mississippi’s long history of stringent segregation and racial oppression has also wrought greater inequality than in most other states.

Today, the poverty rate among Black residents is 31.6%, well more than double the 12.8% poverty rate among white residents. Black labor force participants in Mississippi are also more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers.

18. Kansas

> Poverty rate: 24.6% Black, 10.4% white
> Homeownership rate: 34.8% Black, 69.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.8% Black, 3.7% white
> Median household income: $38,079 Black, $61,812 white

Kansas ranks worse than most states in measures of socioeconomic racial disparity. One of the most pronounced disparities is in the state’s poverty rate. Nearly 25% of Black Kansas residents live below the poverty line, compared to about 10% of white Kansas residents.

Much of the racial inequality evident in the U.S. today can be traced to segregation, as majority Black neighborhoods were historically underfunded and underserved. Though segregation in Kansas in the 20th century was less rigid than in parts of the Deep South, school districts had the option to segregate elementary schools – which ultimately led to the Supreme Court Case, Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka that famously deemed school segregation to be unconstitutional. Today, the white high school diploma attainment rate among Kansas adults is about 5 percentage points higher than among Black adults, and the white bachelor’s degree attainment rate is about 14 percentage points higher.

19. Massachusetts

> Poverty rate: 18.7% Black, 8.3% white
> Homeownership rate: 34.1% Black, 67.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.5% Black, 4.3% white
> Median household income: $51,842 Black, $85,789 white

Massachusetts is one of several states in the Northeast where disparities between white and Black residents in key measures are worse than in most other states. One of the most pronounced disparities in the state is between the white and Black incarceration rate. Though Massachusetts’ Black imprisonment rate of 409 inmates per 100,000 people is the lowest of any state, it is more than seven times higher than the white incarceration rate of 57 per 100,000. For context, Black Americans nationwide are about five times more likely than white Americans to be in a federal or state prison.

Disparate incarceration rates can exacerbate inequality in other areas, including income and employment. The Black unemployment rate of 8.5% in Massachusetts is nearly double the 4.3% white unemployment rate, and the typical white household in the state earns about $34,000 more per year than the typical Black household.

20. South Carolina

> Poverty rate: 24.5% Black, 10.9% white
> Homeownership rate: 53.1% Black, 76.3% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.1% Black, 4.5% white
> Median household income: $35,092 Black, $61,722 white

South Carolina has greater socioeconomic disparities along racial lines than most other states. Both the Black poverty rate and unemployment rate in the state are more than double the comparable rates among white area residents.

Some key measures of health outcomes also reveal racial disparity in the state. For example, the infant mortality rate among the state’s Black population stands at 10.5 for every 1,000 live births, compared to 5.0 per 1,000 among white South Carolinians.

21. Indiana

> Poverty rate: 26.9% Black, 11.2% white
> Homeownership rate: 37.2% Black, 73.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.7% Black, 4.1% white
> Median household income: $34,895 Black, $59,415 white

Indiana’s public school system is highly segregated. A 2017 study found that the average Black student in Indiana attends school where more than two-thirds of students are non-white. Meanwhile, the average white student in Indiana attends school where less than 20% of students are non-white. Segregated schools are inherently unequal, and so are education outcomes in Indiana. Only about 18% of Black adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to about 27% of white adults.

Disparities in educational outcomes have serious economic implications. Black Indiana residents are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to live below the poverty line and more than twice as likely to be unemployed. The Midwestern U.S. has some of the worst racial disparities in the country. And though Indiana has worse inequality than most states, it compares favorably to nearly every other state in the Midwest.

22. Rhode Island

> Poverty rate: 22.0% Black, 10.0% white
> Homeownership rate: 33.7% Black, 65.5% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.7% Black, 4.7% white
> Median household income: $45,727 Black, $71,096 white

Rhode Island ranks better than most Northeastern states for racial inequality but still ranks in the top 25 of states for racial inequality nationwide. Some of the worst disparities are in social measures – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Black Rhode Islanders are nearly 10 times more likely than white residents to be incarcerated in a state of federal correctional facility. Black residents make up about 30% of the state’s prison population and only 5.7% of the overall population.

Other stark disparities in the state are in economic measures. For example, the Black poverty rate of 22.0% in Rhode Island is more than double the 10.0% white poverty rate. Black workers are also more than twice as likely to be unemployed than white workers.

23. Missouri

> Poverty rate: 24.7% Black, 11.7% white
> Homeownership rate: 37.6% Black, 71.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.2% Black, 3.9% white
> Median household income: $37,179 Black, $58,921 white

Missouri has the lowest level of racial inequality in the Midwest. Still, it ranks among the top 25 states with the worst inequality nationwide. Nearly one in every four Black Missourians live below the poverty line, compared to about one in every nine white residents. Black state workers are also more than twice as likely as white workers to be unemployed.

As is the case in much of the United States, racial disparities in Missouri are attributable in part to segregation. Due to redlining and other discriminatory practices, particularly in major urban areas like Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri is one of the most segregated states in the country. Over half of the state’s 696,000 Black residents live in majority Black neighborhoods. Many of these communities were underserved, had – and continue to have – limited economic opportunities, and have schools that are overcrowded and underfunded.

24. Alabama

> Poverty rate: 27.0% Black, 12.3% white
> Homeownership rate: 50.8% Black, 76.1% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% Black, 4.5% white
> Median household income: $33,928 Black, $57,551 white

Home to Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, as well as the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama was ground zero for much of the civil rights movement in the 20th century. Today, it ranks close to the middle of all states in key measures of racial disparities – and much of that inequality is attributable in part to continued segregation, a legacy of racist laws from the previous century. Currently, over half of all Black Alabama residents live in majority Black communities, making it one of the most segregated states in the country.

While many Alabama residents struggle with issues of poverty and unemployment, the burden is shouldered disproportionately by Black communities. The Black poverty rate of 27.0% in the state is more than double the 12.3% white poverty rate. Black workers are also more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers.

25. Virginia

> Poverty rate: 17.6% Black, 8.5% white
> Homeownership rate: 47.8% Black, 72.0% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.3% Black, 3.9% white
> Median household income: $51,654 Black, $79,578 white

Virginia ranks in the middle of all states in several key socioeconomic factors measuring racial disparities. The typical Black household in the state earns $51,654 a year, about $28,000 less than the median income of $79,578 among white households. At 17.6%, the Black poverty rate in Virginia is also more than double the 8.5% white poverty rate.

Measures of public health reveal other racial disparities in Virginia. For example, the infant mortality rate among the state’s Black population stands at 10.6 for every 1,000 live births, compared to 4.7 per 1,000 among white Virginia residents – a larger gap than in most other states.

26. North Carolina

> Poverty rate: 22.5% Black, 11.5% white
> Homeownership rate: 45.5% Black, 72.1% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.1% Black, 4.4% white
> Median household income: $39,108 Black, $60,845 white

Some of the worst racial disparities in North Carolina are in measures of education outcomes. For example, only 21.3% of Black adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 34.0% of white adults. This wide gap is attributable to a multitude of factors, including segregated and inherently unequal public schools. Segregation remains a problem in the state today, and the problem is getting worse as white students are increasingly enrolling in charter schools.

The effects of segregation and unequal education outcomes are far reaching. Black North Carolinians are about twice as likely as their white counterparts to live below the poverty line and are more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Additionally, white households in the state typically earn nearly $22,000 more each year than Black households

27. Arkansas

> Poverty rate: 29.3% Black, 14.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 43.5% Black, 70.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.0% Black, 4.3% white
> Median household income: $32,070 Black, $51,340 white

Segregation can fuel inequality, and Arkansas, like much of the South, is highly segregated. Nearly 44% of Black Arkansas residents live in majority Black neighborhoods, more than double the 19.5% share of all Black Americans residing in majority Black communities nationwide.

In Arkansas, majority Black neighborhoods tend to have relatively limited economic opportunities. For example, the 9.0% Black unemployment rate in the state is more than double the 4.3% white unemployment rate. Additionally, nearly 30% of Black Arkansas residents live below the poverty line, compared to 14.1% of white state residents.

28. Colorado

> Poverty rate: 17.7% Black, 9.4% white
> Homeownership rate: 39.7% Black, 67.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 6.9% Black, 4.0% white
> Median household income: $51,677 Black, $74,730 white

Colorado ranks as the second worst Western state for Black Americans, trailing only Utah. One of the worst racial disparities in the state are incarceration rates. Black Colorado residents are over seven times more likely than white residents to be in a state or federal correctional institution. To put it another way, while only 3.9% of the state’s overall population are Black, about 19% of the incarcerated population in the state are Black.

Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and historically, Black Americans have been excluded from certain housing markets. In Colorado, the Black homeownership rate is just 39.7%, while the white homeownership rate is 67.7%.

29. Oklahoma

> Poverty rate: 27.5% Black, 13.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 38.6% Black, 69.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% Black, 4.3% white
> Median household income: $35,296 Black, $56,266 white

Oklahoma is home to one of the most horrific acts of racial violence in American history – the Tulsa race massacre. In 1921, a white mob looted and destroyed a part of the city known as Black Wall Street, an economically prosperous Black enclave, leaving as many as 300 dead and thousands homeless. The event pushed many Black Tulsa residents out of the city permanently, and its effects are still felt today, a century later.

There are wide racial disparities in the state today, particularly in economic measures, including income, poverty, unemployment, and more. For example, 27.5% of the state’s Black population live below the poverty line, compared to 13.1% of white Oklahoma residents. Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and in Oklahoma, the Black homeownership rate is just 38.6%, while the white homeownership rate is 69.7%.

30. California

> Poverty rate: 20.5% Black, 12.2% white
> Homeownership rate: 34.8% Black, 58.8% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.4% Black, 5.7% white
> Median household income: $51,837 Black, $78,308 white

Racial inequity in California is perhaps best exemplified by the criminal justice system. Black state residents are over 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than white residents. To put it another way, over 29% of the people in correctional facilities in the state are Black, though Black residents comprise only 5% of the state’s population.

This large gap in incarceration rates can exacerbate other forms of inequality, as those in prison or with criminal records tend to have lower earning potential and fewer job opportunities. In California, the Black unemployment rate stands at 10.4%, compared to the 5.7% white jobless rate. Additionally, the typical Black household in the state earns $51,837 a year, about $26,500 less than the median income of $78,308 among white households.

31. Washington

> Poverty rate: 20.4% Black, 9.5% white
> Homeownership rate: 31.5% Black, 66.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.8% Black, 4.6% white
> Median household income: $52,742 Black, $75,135 white

Seattle, like much of the country, was segregated for most of its history and left Black residents excluded from certain neighborhoods, employment opportunities, schools, and hospitals. The effects of racist policies such as these are evident in racial disparities across the state today.

The Black homeownership rate in Washington stands at 31.5%, less than half the white homeownership rate in the state of 66.4%. Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and historically, Black Washington residents faced far greater restrictions to homeownership than white residents. Currently, more than one in every five Black Washington residents live below the poverty line, compared to less than one in every 10 white residents.

32. Oregon

> Poverty rate: 26.3% Black, 12.3% white
> Homeownership rate: 33.6% Black, 64.3% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.0% Black, 5.2% white
> Median household income: $41,773 Black, $63,499 white

When Oregon joined the union in 1859, it explicitly forbade Black people from living within its borders, making it the only state in the country to have had such racist and restrictive laws. It was not until 1926 that Black Americans would be allowed to move to the state. Today, socioeconomic racial disparities in Oregon are pronounced.

The poverty rate among Oregon’s Black population stands at 26.3%, more than double the 12.3% white poverty rate. Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and the Black homeownership rate in Oregon stands at 33.6%, compared to the white homeownership rate in the state of 64.3%.

33. Florida

> Poverty rate: 22.0% Black, 12.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 45.3% Black, 69.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.1% Black, 4.8% white
> Median household income: $41,702 Black, $58,809 white

Though racial disparities are less profound in Florida on aggregate than they are in most states – particularly other Southern states – there are still wide gaps in key socioeconomic measures by race.

The Black unemployment rate in Florida of 9.1% is nearly double the 4.8% white jobless rate. Additionally, the typical Black household in Florida earns just $41,702 a year, while most white households earn over $58,800 annually. Incarceration rates further underscore racial gaps in Florida. Florida’s Black imprisonment rate of 1,207 inmates per 100,000 people is more than four times higher than the white incarceration rate of 281 per 100,000.

34. Maryland

> Poverty rate: 13.3% Black, 6.7% white
> Homeownership rate: 51.5% Black, 75.8% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.5% Black, 3.9% white
> Median household income: $67,583 Black, $94,278 white

Race based segregation can fuel inequality, and by some measures, Maryland is the most segregated state in the country. According to census data, 59.3% of Black Maryland residents live in majority Black neighborhoods, the largest share of any state in the country. These highly segregated communities often lack economic opportunity than more integrated communities.

Across Maryland, 7.5% of the Black labor force are unemployed, compared to the 3.9% white unemployment rate. Additionally, Maryland’s Black poverty rate of 13.3% is well above the 6.7% white poverty rate. Black Maryland residents are also more than five times as likely as their white counterparts to be incarcerated in a state or federal correctional facility.

35. New Hampshire

> Poverty rate: 19.8% Black, 7.2% white
> Homeownership rate: 32.4% Black, 72.3% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.1% Black, 3.5% white
> Median household income: $57,925 Black, $77,015 white

New Hampshire has the second lowest level of socioeconomic racial inequality in the Northeast, after Vermont. Still, differences in social and economic outcomes along racial lines are stark in the state. For example, nearly 20% of Black New Hampshire residents live below the poverty line, compared to just 7.2% of white state residents. Black state residents are also far more likely than their white counterparts to be incarcerated in a state or federal correctional facility. Only 1.4% of New Hampshire’s population are Black, while nearly 7% of prisoners in the state are Black.

Education outcomes reveal further racial disparities in the state. Only 26.8% of Black adults in New Hampshire have a bachelor’s degree or higher, nearly 10 percentage points below the comparable share of white adults in the state.

36. Nevada

> Poverty rate: 23.0% Black, 11.0% white
> Homeownership rate: 29.3% Black, 61.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.3% Black, 5.6% white
> Median household income: $41,034 Black, $64,008 white

The vast majority of Nevada’s population reside in the Las Vegas area – a place where, until the 1960s, Black residents were restricted from living or working outside of the city’s Westside. Racial segregation is inherently unequal, and racial desparities are still evident in Nevada today.

Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and the Black homeownership rate in Nevada stands at 29.3%, compared to the white homeownership rate in the state of 61.6%. Black Nevada residents are also twice as likely as white residents to live below the poverty line and Black workers are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed.

37. Vermont

> Poverty rate: 25.9% Black, 10.5% white
> Homeownership rate: 24.4% Black, 71.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 4.4% Black, 3.5% white
> Median household income: $39,400 Black, $62,539 white

Vermont has the smallest socioeconomic racial gaps of any Northeastern state. Still, variations in certain key measures along racial lines are stark. For example, more than one in every four Black Vermonters live below the poverty line, compared to about one in every 10 white state residents. Additionally, the Black homeownership rate in the state of 24.4% is a fraction of the 71.7% white homeownership rate.

Disparities are also evident in the state’s justice system. Black Vermont residents are over eight times more likely than white residents to be in a state or federal correctional institution. To put it another way, about 10% of the incarcerated population in the state are Black, even though Black residents comprise only 1.3% of the state’s population.

38. Delaware

> Poverty rate: 18.6% Black, 9.0% white
> Homeownership rate: 51.0% Black, 78.2% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.1% Black, 4.7% white
> Median household income: $50,361 Black, $72,508 white

Homeownership is one of the best ways to build wealth in the United States. Though the Black homeownership rate in Delaware of 51.0% is higher than the 41.8% national Black homeownership rate, it is well below the 78.2% white homeownership rate in the state. The lower homeownership rates among Black residents in the state are partly the result of racist housing policies of the previous century.

Also due in part to historic discrimination, which limited most Black Delaware residents to labor and service jobs, economic disparities remain evident along racial lines in the state. For example, the Black poverty rate in Delaware of 18.6% is more than double the state’s 9.0% white poverty rate.

39. Georgia

> Poverty rate: 21.5% Black, 11.3% white
> Homeownership rate: 46.7% Black, 72.5% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.6% Black, 4.2% white
> Median household income: $44,670 Black, $66,473 white

A former slave state, and one in which Black residents were disenfranchised and subject to Jim Crow laws, Georgia also played a central role in the Civil Rights Movement. Still, the legacy of centuries of racist laws has given way to racial inequality to this day.

Black unemployment in the state stands at 8.6%, more than double the 4.2% white jobless rate. Additionally, the typical Black household in the state earns just $44,670 a year, well below the median income of $66,473 among white households in the state. Inequalities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to education outcomes. Only 24% of Black adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 10 percentage points below the white bachelor’s degree attainment rate.

40. Tennessee

> Poverty rate: 24.7% Black, 12.9% white
> Homeownership rate: 43.0% Black, 71.8% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.9% Black, 4.5% white
> Median household income: $38,791 Black, $56,725 white

Even though racial oppression was not as pronounced in Tennessee as it was in parts of the Deep South, over a period of about 100 years ending in the 1950s, Tennessee enacted 20 Jim Crow laws. These included school segregation, a prohibition of interracial marriage, and seperate public accomodations, among others. Tennessee was also the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.

The legacy of Tennessee’s racial oppression still looms large. Today, the typical Black household in the state earns $38,791, about $18,000 less than the median income among white households. Black workers are also nearly twice as likely to be unemployed and Black residents more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as their white counterparts.

41. Kentucky

> Poverty rate: 27.8% Black, 16.0% white
> Homeownership rate: 36.6% Black, 70.8% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% Black, 5.1% white
> Median household income: $36,424 Black, $52,278 white

As was common across the South during Reconstruction, segregated life in Kentucky was marked by hardship for Black state residents. Limited employment opportunities, poverty, and police oppression were common in Black communities – and the legacy of these realities are still evident in Black communities across the state.

The typical Black household in the state earns $36,424 a year, about $15,900 less than the median income of $52,278 among white households. At 27.8%, the Black poverty rate in Kentucky is far higher than the 16.0% white poverty rate. Measures of public health reveal other racial disparities in Kentucky. For example, the infant mortality rate among the state’s Black population stands at 10.7 for every 1,000 live births, compared to 6.4 per 1,000 among white Kentucky residents.

42. Alaska

> Poverty rate: 14.2% Black, 7.2% white
> Homeownership rate: 37.6% Black, 68.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 4.7% Black, 5.2% white
> Median household income: $62,191 Black, $85,298 white

Alaska was granted statehood in 1959, after much of the most oppressive racist laws were off the books in the United States. Indeed, racial disparities are less pronounced in Alaska than they are in much of the rest of the country. For example, Alaska is the only state in the country where the Black unemployment rate is lower than the white jobless rate, at 4.7% compared to 5.2%.

Still, certain socioeconomic measures reflect some level of racial inequality in Alaska. For example, while the typical Black household in the state earns $62,191 a year, more than in nearly every other state, the median income among white Alaska households is about $23,100 higher, at $85,298. Additionally, at 14.2%, the Black poverty rate is nearly twice as high as the 7.2% white poverty rate in Alaska.

43. West Virginia

> Poverty rate: 29.2% Black, 16.9% white
> Homeownership rate: 42.4% Black, 74.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.5% Black, 6.4% white
> Median household income: $33,133 Black, $47,143 white

During the Reconstruction Era, West Virginia offered Black Americans a number of opportunities that were denied to them in other states. Still, the thousands of African Americans who moved to the state after the Civil War faced institutional segregation as well as discrimination.

Today, many in West Virginia are struggling economically – but economic hardship appears to be disproportionately shouldered by the state’s Black population. Nearly 30% of Black West Virginians live below the poverty line, compared to about 17% of the state’s white population. Additionally, Black unemployment in the state stands at 10.5%, compared to the 6.4% white jobless rate.

44. Arizona

> Poverty rate: 20.3% Black, 13.2% white
> Homeownership rate: 34.6% Black, 67.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.5% Black, 5.3% white
> Median household income: $47,386 Black, $61,172 white

Arizona was a highly segregated state in the early 20th century. Segregation in public schools across the state was characterized by unequal conditions for Black students who typically had far fewer resources than their white counterparts. The segregated education system and broader social segregation have left a legacy of disparity in the state.

The Black homeownership rate in Arizona stands at 34.6%, just over half the white homeownership rate in the state of 67.7%. Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build intergenerational wealth in the United States, and historically, Black Arizona residents faced far greater restrictions on homeownership than white residents. Currently, more than one in every five Black Arizona residents live below the poverty line, compared to about 13% of white state residents.

45. Idaho

> Poverty rate: 30.3% Black, 12.3% white
> Homeownership rate: 37.6% Black, 71.3% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.5% Black, 4.2% white
> Median household income: $43,034 Black, $56,683 white

Exclusionary housing covenants known as redlining have meaningfully impacted Black Americans’ ability to build wealth through homeownership in much of the United States, and Idaho is no exception. Cities like Boise and Pocatello employed redlining practices in the mid-20th Century – and today, the Black homeownership rate in Idaho is just 37.6%, just over half the 71.3% white homeownership rate.

Black Idaho residents are also far less likely to be financially secure than their white counterparts. Just over 30% of Black Idaho residents live below the poverty line, compared to the 12.3% white poverty rate – one of the largest such disparities in the country.

46. Montana

> Poverty rate: 16.3% Black, 11.6% white
> Homeownership rate: 27.8% Black, 69.8% white
> Unemployment rate: 6.6% Black, 3.5% white
> Median household income: $44,614 Black, $56,282 white

Montana has the smallest Black population in the United States. Only about 4,700 state residents, or 0.4% of the total population, are Black. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Montana had several racist laws on the books, including segregated schools and a prohibition of interracial marriage. Such discrimination pushed Black residents into their own enclaves and led to further social and economic segregation.

The legacy of these conditions are disparities in several key social and economic measures in the state. For example, Montana’s 27.8% Black homeownership rate is well below half the 69.8% white homeownership rate. Additionally, the typical Black household in the state earns $44,614 a year, about $11,700 less than the typical white household – even though Black Montana residents are more likely than their white counterparts to have a four-year college education.

47. Wyoming

> Poverty rate: 15.3% Black, 10.5% white
> Homeownership rate: 28.8% Black, 71.6% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.9% Black, 4.2% white
> Median household income: $47,386 Black, $64,820 white

Wyoming has one of the smallest Black populations of any state. Only about 5,200 state residents identify as Black, or 0.9% of the total population. Wyoming did not enforce segregated school laws, and, unlike the other Rocky Mountain states, allowed Black men to vote without prompting from Washington D.C. Anecdotally, even though there were racist laws, including a prohibition on interracial marriages, Wyoming has generally been a more tolerant state historically than much of the rest of the country.

Still, as is the case everywhere in the United States, job opportunities and financial security are far more elusive for Black Wyoming residents than white state residents. Black unemployment in the state stands at 8.9%, more than double the 4.2% white jobless rate. Additionally, even though Wyoming’s 15.3% Black poverty rate is among the lowest in the country, it is considerably higher than the state’s 10.5% white poverty rate.

48. Texas

> Poverty rate: 19.3% Black, 13.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 40.7% Black, 66.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.8% Black, 4.6% white
> Median household income: $46,572 Black, $64,810 white

Segregation in Texas in the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th century has shaped much of the racial inequality evident in the state today. Historically, Black schools in the state often had lower funding. Many labor unions rejected Black membership, and Black workers were typically relegated to unskilled labor jobs. And when they did hold the same job as white workers, they were often paid less.

Today, the 40.7% Black homeownership rate in the state is well below the 66.4% white homeownership rate. Earnings among Black Texas residents also remains well below white earnings. Most Black households in the state earn less than $47,000 a year, while most white households earn over $64,810.

49. New Mexico

> Poverty rate: 24.2% Black, 16.7% white
> Homeownership rate: 40.2% Black, 69.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 7.3% Black, 5.9% white
> Median household income: $40,528 Black, $52,444 white

Though New Mexico joined the union in 1912, decades after the most oppressive and racist laws in the country’s history were taken off the books, it still introduced many of the same racist policies that led to segregated housing in other parts of the country in the 20th century. Housing covenants banning Black homeownership in certain parts of the state, including much of Albuquerque, have resulted in reduced Black homeownership in New Mexico. Today, the Black homeownership rate in the state of 40.2% is well below the 69.7% white homeownership rate.

Restrictive housing laws also limited Black families from building wealth through homeownership. Partially as a result, Black New Mexico residents are far more likely to struggle financially than white state residents. New Mexico’s Black poverty rate stands at 24.2%, compared to the 16.7% white poverty rate.

50. Hawaii

> Poverty rate: 9.4% Black, 9.5% white
> Homeownership rate: 23.3% Black, 54.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.3% Black, 4.6% white
> Median household income: $69,678 Black, $81,319 white

Hawaii has the smallest disparity in key socioeconomic indicators between Black and white residents of any state. Hawaii is also the only state in the country where the Black poverty rate is below the white poverty rate, at 9.4% compared to 9.5%.

Still, several measures reveal some degree of racial disparity in Hawaii. For example, even though the median income among Black households in the state is the highest in the country at $69,678, it is still about $11,600 less than the median income of $81,319 among white households in the state. At 9.3%, Black unemployment is also high in Hawaii – double the 4.6% white unemployment rate

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It happens everyday in America!

By Jeff Thomas

Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings.  Police have no suspects in any of the cases.”  And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black.  This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight.  New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally.  Why do black men kill each other?

First Let’s Dispel a Racist Myth

First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do not commit murder ever in their lives.  That is a fact!  This is not a black man issue.  There is nothing genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by another black man.  Why does this happen with this subset?

Common factors to Black men murdering other black men

RACE

The first thing about murder is that people usually kill people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race.  White men normally murder other white men and black men normally murder other black men. 

PROXIMITY

In the black community, these killings are normally city events.  Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country.  Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets.  People kill others who they interact with.

AGE

Young men engage in risky and violent behavior.  Most of the men dying on our streets are between the ages of 17-35. 

EDUCATION

Nearly 95% have not graduated from college and 65% have not completed high school.   

Socioeconomic Status

100% were not upper class in America. The links between poverty and crime are well documented.  And black men have lived in depression level economic conditions for the last 50 years.

But these are often cited, unsurprising factors.  More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man?  What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other

Habitually Hostile Men

The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to escalate a situation.  Down for whatever.  Nothing to live for and anticipating the day he will either kill or be killed.  This mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived life.  This guy has had a number of arguments and fist fights throughout his life.  He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards people.  He often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.  This guy is a walking heap of rage.  He is always nothing but a gun and an argument away from murder.

The Disrespected Man

A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.

For this guy, respect is everything and options to express anger or refutation are often limited.   He often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.

The Wannabe

When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations.  Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.

Self-Hate

The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war.  One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality.  Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life.  Twisted but true.

Given the opportunity to take back control of Orleans Parish schools and assume the lead in giving our kids the best education that’ll keep them out of prison, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) thought about it and said, nah I think we’re good.

Actually, they didn’t just say it. They held a meeting. They put it in a formal resolution. So when it came time for the Senate to finally hear Sen. Joe Bouie’s bill (SB404), it failed. By 6 votes. The dissenting Senators were like, if the OPSB doesn’t want the responsibility, then why would we force it on them?

That raises a question: why doesn’t the OPSB want the responsibility? Maybe it has something to do with the present setup.

Charter schools are the gentrification of education

As it stands now, the OPSB is a conduit for state education dollars. It’s a golden setup. Any aspiring charter organization wanting to access state money and open a school has to get the OPSB’s approval. Once that happens, the OPSB plays a minimal role.

Once established, the charter gets to set its own salaries, hire its own teachers and principals, and establish its own curriculum. The OPSB then relegates itself to monitoring their performance via test scores. It also decides if the school will be reapproved when the contract is up. That’s called eliminating mostly anything to do with the day-to-day responsibility of educating our kids while still getting paid. Charter schools are the gentrification of education.

How much you might ask. Like $300,000 a year if you happen to be the incoming superintendent of the OPSB. That’s a raise of almost a $100,000 over the outgoing superintendent.  And $15,000 more than the Dept of Education superintendent who oversees the whole state. There’s also a $20,000 a year bonus if certain incentives are met. The OPSB cited cost of living increases to justify the salary.

Sen. Bouie has been trying to break up this arrangement for years. The central theme of his many bills has been holding the elected school board members accountable for the schools in their districts. As it stands now, the public can’t really hold them accountable for our failing schools because the charters set and run their own shows.

Many people would probably say what difference would it make. When the OPSB ran the schools, they were just as bad, in general, as they are now. But the whole charter reform movement was supposed to be about improving schools.  This ain’t that!

Going forward, the goal shouldn’t just be returning the schools to the OPSB. There should also be public involvement to hold the OPSB accountable once that does happen. Our schools won’t improve with a management change alone. It needs an engaged public to go along with it.

Of course, this will all have to wait until next legislative session. With this session ending in about 2 weeks, there will probably be little support for reconsidering Sen. Bouie’s bills. Until then, watch the OPSB members of your districts. Attend a meeting. Let your voice be heard. That’s the first step towards invoking true reform. Because now, charter schools are the gentrification of education.

From preschoolers to high school, schools discipline Black children at extremely high rates. Discipline means lost instruction time. Children are frustrated because they don’t understand. So instead of providing a nurturing environment, schools create children who do not like school. We know that children who do well in school often do well at life. For black kids this is especially true. Educational success can lift families out of poverty. But schools today are putting black kids out of school. In fact, schools use discipline to discourage black children.

Have an open discussion about race and achievement gaps and disparities in America. Invariably the discussion will consolidate around two key generally accepted factors – parental involvement and education.  Most people say parents have to be parents and influence their children. And an emphasis on education can transform the life of children.

Despite the best efforts of parents, schools use discipline to discourage black kids.  The Civil Rights division of the Department of Education released the latest results of its data collection of nearly every public school in the country.  And the results were disturbing nationally and alarming in Louisiana.

See how schools use discipline to discourage blacks.

We expect schools to be vessels for success. So they must be nurturing supportive places that welcome children and educate them.  Schools have always dealt with learning differences amongst students.  Little Tyronne is better in math than little Johnny, but Johnny reads at a higher level.  The best schools are adept at developing the strengths and weaknesses of each student.

 Schools must see African American children as valuable and teachable. But teachers are humans with biases and preconceived notions. Teachers with different socioeconomic backgrounds from their students must be able to overcome their own limitations. One stereotype is that African Americans are less intelligent than other students. Another stereotype is that Black boys don’t care about education. Another is that black children are just bad. Inexperienced and culturally bereft teachers might see black children as unworthy. How else can you explain black preschool children being suspended from school? How else can you explain the widespread expulsion of black children. Let’s look at some facts. This is how schools use discipline to discourage blacks.

Related: NOLA Charter Schools are the gentrification of education

Some of the most glaring disparities are differences in discipline:

In Louisiana the stats are even more disturbing.

In New Orleans, many point to the charter movement as progress.  But most of the charter schools operators in New Orleans are run by out of state companies. And they operate the same across the country.  Most have inexperienced, Teach for America teachers who have no cultural familiarity with the students they must teach.  Hence we have high expulsions and constant teacher turnover.  Our children are left in the lurch.

The children who drug the old white lady are teenage high school students. The boy was suspended from school.


by Preeti Vani

Your answer may depend on how we ask the question.

KEY POINTS

Gladson Xavier/Pexels

Source: Gladson Xavier/Pexels

What do the gender wage gap, race relations in America, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have in common? They are all intergroup conflicts — that is, multiple groups that have a stake in the conflict and its outcomes. For example, both men and women are involved in the work needed to close the gender wage gap. Similarly, members of different racial groups are involved in debates around racial justice. People also tend to make moral judgments in all of these conflicts, sometimes believing that one side is “right” and another is “wrong.”

Importantly, different people assign blame to parties in different ways. A team of researchers from Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that altering the way in which parties are presented changes the amount of blame allocated to those parties — even for important and long-standing divides, like the examples above.

Oftentimes, these conflicts invigorate the battle for public opinion. We spend our time and energy convincing people that we are blaming the “right” parties. The weapons deployed on this battlefield range from new social media influencers and photogenic images of human suffering to simplified narratives filled with old stereotypes and prejudices.

How do you win the battle for public opinion? By convincing the world that the other side is to blame for decades of bloodshed and hatred. This seems difficult — surely people hold entrenched positions in such protracted, moralized conflicts, forged by national loyalties and fueled by media echo chambers.

Or do they?

Study: Who’s to blame?

We recently discovered that shifting public opinion in entrenched conflicts, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can be surprisingly easy. In our experiments, we asked research participants a simple question: “Who do you blame for the conflict?” Participants allocated 100 percent of the blame between the sides of the conflict (the Israelis and the Palestinians).

While outlining the parties that one can potentially blame, the larger groups can be “unpacked” into smaller subgroups, or they can be left “packed” as the larger group. For example, Israel has three major political blocs — the Right-Wing Bloc, the Center Bloc, and the Left-Wing Bloc. We can represent Israel in a “packed” way, by simply having “Israel” as an option in the choice set, or we can represent Israel in an “unpacked” way, by having Israel’s major political blocs as options. We can do the same for the Palestinians.

You probably have an opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And regardless of how we present the options, you probably think that your opinions on the conflict — and the extent to which different parties deserve blame — are unlikely to change much as a function of how the question is asked. Here’s the fascinating part. When we “unpacked” the Israeli side to three political subgroups, the proportion of blame assigned to Israel increased by 30 percentage points, from 38 percent to 68 percent, with the Palestinian side receiving 32 percent of the blame. When we unpacked the Palestinian side into three subgroups, the same thing happened, only in reverse — now most of the blame was assigned to the Palestinians, with only a small portion of the blame assigned to Israelis. In other words, a slight difference in the framing of choices shifted the public opinion from allocating the majority of the blame to the Israelis to allocating the majority of the blame to the Palestinians.

We didn’t stop at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We found similar effects when we asked different samples of participants who they blamed for the gender gap in wages in the U.S. (between men and women), and who they blamed for current racial tensions in the United States (between White Americans and Black Americans).

In the case of race relations, we either kept the groups “packed” as “White Americans” and “Black Americans,” or we “unpacked” the groups into political subgroups (e.g., “White Democrats,” “White Independents,” and “White Republicans”). When only the “Black Americans” group was unpacked, 58 percent of the blame for racial tensions was allocated to White Americans — but when only the “White Americans” group was unpacked, our participants now allocated 84 percent of the blame to White Americans.article continues after advertisement

This shockingly large shift in public opinion has important real-world implications. For example, if the U.S. president were to veto a bill related to racial justice, a two-thirds Congressional supermajority is required to override the veto. This benchmark is encapsulated within our 26 percentage point shift in the blame allocated to White Americans. A simple presentational change dramatically shifted public opinion on topics where people could reasonably be expected to have established views. What’s going on?

Partition dependence and its effects

This phenomenon is known as “partition dependence.” It is the human tendency to allocate more attention to a category when it is unpacked into subcategories. Partition dependence is a natural cognitive process. Essentially, it means that when we think about groups, we don’t naturally think about every subgroup contained within that overall group. For example, when we think about “Americans,” we don’t ordinarily think about every subcategory of “Americans.” But when a large group is unpacked into its constituent subgroups, it commands more of our attention, which in this case results in a larger portion of the blame.

Importantly, the partition to subgroups can be along different consequential dimensions. When we asked about the gender wage gap, we unpacked “men” and “women” by race (i.e., “White Men,” “Asian Men,” “Hispanic Men,” and “Black Men”). When we asked about race relations, we unpacked “White Americans” and “Black Americans” by political orientation. Across multiple important social issues, we found that partition dependence can be used as a tool to persuade others and sway opinions by having people consider a more (or less) comprehensive set of potentially blameworthy parties.

Why should you care? We should all care because narratives of intergroup conflict can shape life-and-death decisions in institutions ranging from the United States Congress to the United Nations. Considering different sets of perpetrators changes how blame is allocated, which may matter quite a bit in the court of public opinion as well as in the International Court of Justice. The ease of using simple presentational tools to shift public opinion in complex and entrenched moral conflicts — such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conflict between White Americans and Black Americans — should be a lesson to all of us. How we ask the question determines where the blame lies.

Kari Rusnak, MA, LPC,CMHC

Learn why you need to prioritize time for dates.

First of all, date nights don’t have to be at night. You can do them any day at any time; the most important thing is spending quality time while engaging in shared meaning. The Gottman Institute’s research shows that 2 hours a week devoted to dates are part of a happy healthy relationship. Here are some date night ideas that could take at least two hours:

Why are date nights so important?

Get more consistent about date nights

Talk to your partner about setting up a time each week when you can spend two hours together. This can be the same time every week or you can schedule the next one at the end of your most recent date night. It can be helpful to schedule date nights like you would a medical appointment or work meeting. This makes it feel more prioritized and harder to cancel or forget about.

RELATED: HOW TO STAY HAPPY

Currently New Orleans has a major teenage crime problem.  Far too many teenagers are committing crimes. Car jackings, murders, shoplifting – nothing seems shocking anymore.  Many assume because they are black, they are prone to crime.  Others think young minds are undeveloped and do not understand the reality of their choices.  Listen to WBOK 1230am radio, the voice of the black community, and invariably a caller of three will call in blaming bad parenting. Some cite a complete breakdown of the family unit. A bunch of callers will blame absent fathers. Rarely do you hear about the effects of past mass incarceration. Yet past mass incarceration causes crime today.

If you just believe black people are naturally bad, then you are a real part of the problem.  I mean if your heart skips a beat when a group of young black boys turn the corner and face you, then you are just being cautious. But if you automatically feel like your life is threatened then you are a brainwashed fool.  This limited and stupid thinking is racism based and rooted in greed and corruption.  And it produced centuries of bad policy.

The bad policy?  Mass Incarceration.  How did we get it there?  Blacks and whites commit crimes at about the same rate.  Yet black men fill jails and prisons across the country. Why?

Mass incarceration was the backlash to freeing the slaves.  The 13th Amendment has a unique exception for those interested in the continued exploitation of black labor.  Read it:

13th Amendment

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Incarceration jumped a whopping 20000% after the amendment became law.  In essence, black men went from being enslaved to incarcerated overnight.  Today, Louisiana is still a worldwide leader in mass incarceration.  Even after serious and significant reforms. 

What are the effects of mass incarceration and how does it contribute to crime:

Mass incarceration, born just after slavery and continuing today has a direct impact on the crimes we see now.  This year violence is at levels not seen since 2005. And children who are 15-18 today were born in, just before or right after 2005.  Two things about the year 2005.  Louisiana was the mass incarceration capital of the world by far.  Oh and this storm tore through the city.  The federal levees failed.  And today we see the double whammy of our state’s bad policy and poor planning.

Past Mass Incarceration Causes Crime Today

Where are the fathers?  In Jail.

Why are families not intact?  Father in jail.

Why did the family breakdown? Father in jail.

Why are kids in gangs and don’t have fatherly influence? Father in jail.

Why are so many black families in poverty? Father in jail.

On and on and on and……

Storms are bigger and more frequent.  Crimes are more brazen and frequent.  Only smart policy can fix both. 

Crunch Time At The Legislature

Let’s talk bills. Not the money kind, but the ones our state legislators are proposing and pouring over. Previously, we covered 3 in particular. Here’s what has happened to them since. We are tracking the Louisiana legislature

HB248removing Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from the state roll.

Now is not a good time to be Robert E. Lee. Yes, he’s dead, I know. But his legacy is alive and taking some serious Ls. Actually, it’s been on a slow burning descent since 2017.

First, his statue was plucked from his very own Circle. Then he lost his Boulevard. After that, the aforementioned Circle was renamed. Now, he’s on the verge of losing one of his last remaining signs of relevancy – his state recognized holiday. Yes, there’s a Robert E Lee Day in Louisiana [insert face palm]. It’s January 19th. Sorry if you missed it. Because if Rep. Matthew Willard’s bill passes, this year could be the last year the state recognizes Lee Day.

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Lee Circle in New Orleans.

As of now, Rep. Willard’s bill is still alive and kicking its way through the Senate. Surprisingly, it coasted out of the House with a 62-20 vote. And that was after a 12-0 romp through the House Judiciary Committee. It did all this with minimal headlines and fanfare.

You would’ve thought the bill would spark hyperbole of the highest order.  But the knives stayed in. And the red meat was left out. Instead of claims of attacking heritage and trying to erase history, members of the House treated us to efficiency and silence. Now it’s up to the Senate.

Over at the Senate, the bill is still waiting to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans hold a 4-3 advantage in that Committee. If it passes there, it’s on to the full Senate, then the governor’s desk.

HB209 – allowing Orleans Parish to go beyond state regulation of guns.

Just because you’re a chartered city it doesn’t mean you can chart your own path, at least when it comes to guns. That’s what the House Criminal Justice Committee concluded when they heard Rep Mandie Landry’s bill.  9 of the 10 members fired off nays and shot the bill down. That means in the midst of a carjacking, murder, and violent crime spree, a city like New Orleans can’t pass regulations to protect its citizens from people with guns.

If it’s not a good time to be Robert E. Lee, it is definitely a good time to be a gun owner. With this bill dead, it’s still legal for guns to be brought almost anywhere, like church, a kids soccer game, or a restaurant. And if you happen to lose your gun at one of these places or have it stolen, you don’t even have to report it to the police. That was another stipulation that went down with this bill.

The 9 -1 vote was a testament of principle over priorities. Or maybe it was a testament to Louisiana’s priorities. The state dubbed the sportsman’s paradise continues to support gun laws that make its citizens easy prey. And we will keep tracking bills in the Louisiana legislature.

HB798 – ensuring that neither BESE nor school boards can water down present social study standards for African American history. THIS IS NOT A CRITCAL RACE THEORY BILL.

This is also a bill that hasn’t been heard yet. The House Education Committee has left Rep. Royce Duplessis’ bill sitting on the shelf since early March when it was submitted. This is a bill you would expect to not be controversial. It simply says BESE and local school boards must abide by the social study standards BESE just approved for African American history.

The point is to prevent some rogue teacher or school board or even BESE itself from disregarding state law. If the law says such and such aspect of African American history has to be taught, then that’s what has to be done. Boom. That’s it.

You’d think this bill would already be bouncing from the Senate to the governor’s desk. But instead, it’s just languishing on the calendar as the legislative session counts down.

June 6th – legislative session adjourns

Speaking of counting down, there’s a little over 3 weeks to go before the session ends on June 6th. There’s much for legislators to go over, including the remaining 2 of these 3 bills. We will keep tracking these bills in the Louisiana legislature. And we’ll keep you informed on how it goes.

A Black truck driver on TikTok known as Gideon reveals in a viral video what he witnessed last week while traveling through a “sundown town.”

The video, which has been viewed nearly 800,000 times since posting, details the man’s experience while visiting the notorious town of Vidor, Texas.

Vidor was once considered a haven for the Ku Klux Klan and has long been seen as a “sundown town,” a predominately white area that is considered unsafe for Black people after sunset due to racial violence. Although city officials have claimed that the town has undergone significant changes in recent decades, Gideon’s experience reveals that some things still haven’t changed.

“Pretty much everybody I know in Texas that’s Black tells me, ‘Do not go to Vidor, Texas,'” Gideon says. “I’m like ‘OK’ but here I was in Vidor, Texas.”

The TikToker goes on to state that while driving to his destination to drop off his load, he came across numerous trailer parks with Confederate flags and even a doll of a Black man hanging from a tree by its neck.

Upon reaching his destination, Gideon says that he was approached by a security guard who immediately alerted his fellow workers that they were experiencing a “code red.” The security guard expressed that he did not want to be responsible for the truck driver’s safety by allowing him to drive further into the business to drop off his delivery.

Gideon says another man eventually appeared about 15 minutes later to quickly help him unload his truck before urging him to leave the area.

“He said, ‘Dude, you might want to get up out of here as soon as possible. We’re at sundown. You want to leave now.'”

After asking the man if he could rely on the police, Gideon was allegedly told that local law enforcement would “turn a blind eye” to any potential incident. The TikToker says he drove until he reached the next town over where he fell asleep in his truck with an AR-15 rifle. His account of the visit was made the following day after he felt he was safe.

The Daily Dot reached out to Gideon to inquire further about the video but did not immediately receive a reply.

Comments under the video were filled with remarks from other residents of Texas who were similarly aware of the town’s reputation.

“POV: You’re from TX and knew he was talking about Vidor before he said it,” one user wrote.

“I’ve always been told don’t even stop for gas in Vidor, Tx,” another added.

Some users even argued that a new “Green Book” was needed, a reference to the annual guidebook designated safe destinations across the country for Black Americans between 1936 and 1966.

“We need an updated Green Book,” one viewer commented.

Many were simply shocked to hear that such areas still existed in the country.

“Wow,” one commenter added. “I hate that there are places in our nation that are still this racist.”

At least one alleged resident of Vidor even left a comment regarding the town’s poor image.

“Not everyone in the town is like that… but it is the ones who are like that that ruin everyone else’s reputation… I live in Vidor myself,” the user wrote.

The experience came as an unpleasant surprise to many, but countless others have long been aware that such dangers remain ever present.

The post ‘We need an updated green book’: Black truck driver shares his harrowing experience in Texas sundown town appeared first on The Daily Dot.


by Gary Wenk Ph.D.

What you should eat, and stop eating, to avoid cognitive decline.

KEY POINTS

The New York Times recently published an interesting article by Amelia Nierenberg that asked about the effects of specific foods on the mental decline that comes with aging. Since publishing my book Your Brain on Food, I have been asked that question more often than any other: What can I eat to make myself mentally healthy and become smarter? The Times article was accurate but missed two critical issues that contribute to determining whether our diet can cause cognitive decline. First, dementia is a lifestyle phenomenon. Eating lots of leafy greens today for lunch sounds comforting but will not negate a decade of poor diet choices. Second, obesity is a significant risk factor for dementia. No specific food item can make you lose weight.

People generally have poor diets by almost any definition of the term. We eat too much fat, salt, and sugar. We consume too much alcohol and nicotine and exercise too little. Most of America, regardless of age or socioeconomic status, is overweight or obese. Our bodies are storing too much fat; this fat produces a harmful environment of inflammation, oxidative stress, and physiological imbalance that often leads to metabolic syndrome. Simply stated, our lousy diet generates an environment in our body that ages us too quickly and impairs our thinking.

Thus, your question should be the following…

What should I stop eating to avoid becoming unhealthy and demented?

A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, combined with reduced caloric intake, is ideal (and the one universally recommended) because it compensates for the numerous negative effects of your current diet. Dieticians, physicians, and all other health care providers beg their patients to change their diet; patients rarely do.

Poor diets cause some mental health disorders. The most common mental health disorder is depression. Obesity and the presence of too much body fat underlie our vulnerability to depression. People who lose body fat, via exercise or liposuction, experience improved mood and cognitive function. Thus, excessive body fat can make you both depressed and stupid and also make it less likely that you will respond to anti-depressant therapy. Today, an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence obtained across a wide spectrum of medical disciplines strongly argues that obesity accelerates brain aging, impairs overall cognitive function, and, ultimately, is responsible for the numerous processes that kill us.

vegetables and fruits

A little sugar is not harmful to your brain or body. From your brain’s perspective, dietary sugar is indispensable. Without a constant uninterrupted supply, you will quickly lose the ability to think and slip into a coma. However, diets high in sugar lead to metabolic diseases which have significant negative effects on cognition. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for dementia.

A small percentage of the general population is vulnerable to the lack of specific nutrients in their poor diet. This category of nutrients often includes vitamins and some minerals. Adding those nutrients back to their diet is often beneficial. However, numerous studies have now conclusively shown that for the overwhelming majority of us, supplements with vitamins and nutrients are a waste of money.

In contrast, a small percentage of the general population is vulnerable to the presence of specific nutrients in their poor diets. A good example of such a nutrient is gluten. If you are sensitive to gluten, do not eat it. If you are not gluten-sensitive, then avoiding gluten is a bad idea, according to the results of a study involving over 15,000 participants who were followed for 30 years. The American College of Cardiology now strongly recommends against the adoption of gluten-free diets for people without a medical necessity.

We are often told that our diet affects our health and mood.

That’s not quite the way it works: In reality, a healthier diet can only compensate for your current lousy diet. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains cannot help to boost mental health; they can only undo the damage that you are already causing.

No diet, no nutrients, and no drugs (do not believe the nonsense you have read about nootropics, a 21st-century brain placebo) have ever been proven scientifically to enhance health or brain function. The advice you hear about so often is designed to convince you to stop your poor diet in order to avoid becoming unhealthier and cognitively impaired. Therefore, choose your diet wisely—your longevity and memories depend upon it.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — If you are Black or Hispanic in a conservative state that already limits access to abortions, you are far more likely than a white person to have one.

And if the U.S. Supreme court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minorities will bear the brunt of it, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.

WATCH: What a Supreme Court ruling ending Roe v. Wade would mean for reproductive rights

The potential impact on minorities became all the more clear on Monday with the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting the court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion. The draft decision is not yet final but it sent shockwaves through the country. Overturning the Roe v. Wade decision would give states authority to decide abortion’s legality. Roughly half, largely in the South and Midwest, are likely to quickly ban abortion.

When it comes to the effect on minorities, the numbers are unambiguous. In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44 percent of the population but 81 percent of women receiving abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health statistics.

In Texas, they’re 59 percent of the population and 74 percent of those receiving abortions. The numbers in Alabama are 35 percent and 69 percent. In Louisiana, minorities represent 42 percent of the population, according to the state Health Department, and about 72 percent of those receiving abortions.

“Abortion restrictions are racist,” said Cathy Torres, an organizing manager with Frontera Fund, a Texas organization that helps pay for abortions. “They directly impact people of color, Black, brown, Indigenous people … people who are trying to make ends meet.”

Why the great disparities? Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of the Alabama-based Yellowhammer Fund, which provides financial support for abortions, said women of color in states with restrictive abortion laws often have limited access to health care and a lack of choices for effective birth control. Schools often have ineffective or inadequate sex education.

If abortions are outlawed, those same women — often poor — will likely have the hardest time traveling to distant parts of the country to terminate pregnancies or raising children they might struggle to afford, said Roberts, who is Black and once volunteered at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.

“We’re talking about folks who are already marginalized,” Roberts said.

Amanda Furdge, who is Black, was one of those women. She was a single, unemployed college student already raising one baby in 2014 when she found out she was pregnant with another. She said she didn’t know how she could afford another child.

She’d had two abortions in Chicago. Getting access to an abortion provider there was no problem, Furdge said. But now she was in Mississippi, having moved home to escape an abusive relationship. Misled by advertising, she first went to a crisis pregnancy center that tried to talk her out of an abortion. By the time she found the abortion clinic, she was too far along to have the procedure.

She’s not surprised by the latest news on the Supreme Court’s likely decision. Most people who aren’t affected don’t consider the stakes.

“People are going to have to vote,” said Furdge, 34, who is happily raising her now 7-year-old son but continues to advocate for women having the right to choose. “People are going to have to put the people in place to make the decisions that align with their values. When they don’t, things like this happen.”

READ MORE: What is Roe v. Wade?

Torres said historically, anti-abortion laws have been crafted in ways that hurt low-income women. She pointed to the Hyde Amendment, a 1980 law that prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in rare cases.

She also cited the 2021 Texas law that bans abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy. Where she lives, near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, women are forced to travel to obtain abortions and must pass in-state border patrol checkpoints where they have to disclose their citizenship status, she said.

Regardless of what legislators say, Torres insisted, the intent is to target women of color, to control their bodies: “They know who these restrictions are going to affect. They know that, but they don’t care.”

But Andy Gipson, a former member of the Mississippi Legislature who is now the state’s agriculture and commerce commissioner, said race had nothing to do with passage of Mississippi’s law against abortion after the 15th week. That law is the one now before the Supreme Court in a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Gipson, a Baptist minister who is white, said he believes all people are created in the image of God and have an “innate value” that starts at conception. Mississippi legislators were trying to protect women and babies by putting limits on abortion, he said.

“I absolutely disagree with the concept that it’s racist or about anything other than saving babies’ lives,” said Gipson, a Republican. “It’s about saving lives of the unborn and the lives and health of the mother, regardless of what color they are.”

To those who say that forcing women to have babies will subject them to hardships, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a white Republican, said it is “easier for working mothers to balance professional success and family life” than it was 49 years ago when Roe was decided.

Fitch, who is divorced, often points to her own experience of working outside the home while raising three children. But Fitch grew up in an affluent family and has worked in the legal profession — both factors that can give working women the means and the flexibility to get help raising children.

That’s not the case for many minority women in Mississippi or elsewhere. Advocates say in many places where abortion services are being curtailed, there’s little support for people who carry a baby to term.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states, and people in low-wage jobs often don’t receive health insurance. Women can enroll in Medicaid during pregnancy, but that coverage disappears soon after they give birth.

Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black infants were about twice as likely as white infants to die during the first year of life in Mississippi, according to the March of Dimes.

Across the country, U.S. Census Bureau information analyzed by The Associated Press shows fewer Black and Hispanic women have health insurance, especially in states with tight abortion restrictions. For example, in Texas, Mississippi and Georgia, at least 16 percent of Black women and 36 percent of Latinas were uninsured in 2019, some of the highest such rates in the country.

Problems are compounded in states without effective education programs about reproduction. Mississippi law says sex education in public schools must emphasize abstinence to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Discussion of abortion is forbidden, and instructors may not demonstrate how to use condoms or other contraception.

The Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Tyler Harden, is a 26-year-old Black woman who had an abortion about five years ago, an experience that drove her to a career supporting pregnant women and preserving abortion rights.

She said when she was attending public school in rural Mississippi, she didn’t learn about birth control. Instead, a teacher stuck clear tape on students’ arms. The girls were told to put it on another classmate’s arm, and another, and watch how it lost the ability to form a bond.

“They’d tell you, ‘If you have sex, this is who you are now: You’re just like this piece of tape — all used up and washed up and nobody would want it,’” Harden said.

When she became pregnant at 21, she knew she wanted an abortion. Her mother was battling cancer and Harden was in her last semester of college without a job or a place to live after graduation.

She said she was made to feel fear and shame, just as she had during sex ed classes. When she went to the clinic, she said protesters told her she was “‘killing the most precious gift’” from God and that she was ”‘killing a Black baby, playing into what white supremacists want.’”

Harden’s experience is not uncommon. The anti-abortion movement has often portrayed the abortion fight in racial terms.

Outside the only abortion clinic operating in Mississippi, protesters hand out brochures that refer to abortion as Black “genocide” and say the late Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and a proponent of eugenics, “desired to eradicate minorities.” The brochures compare Sanger to Adolf Hitler and proclaim: “Black lives did not matter to Margaret Sanger!”

The Mississippi clinic is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood itself denounces Sanger’s belief in eugenics.

READ MORE: How Congress could wield its power to affect abortion law nationally

White people are not alone in making this argument. Alveda King, an evangelist who is a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is among the Black opponents of abortion who, for years, have been portraying abortion as a way to wipe out people of their race.

Tanya Britton, a former president of Pro-Life Mississippi, often drives three hours from her home in the northern part of the state to pray outside the abortion clinic in Jackson. Britton is Black, and she said it’s a tragedy that the number of Black babies aborted since Roe would equal the population of several large cities. She also said people are too casual about terminating pregnancies.

“You just can’t take the life of someone because this is not convenient — ‘I want to finish my education,’” Britton said. “You wouldn’t kill your 2-year-old because you were in graduate school.”

But state Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson, who is Black and a mother, suggested there’s nothing casual about what poor women are doing. Receiving little support in Mississippi — for example, the Legislature killed a proposal to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage in 2021 — they are sometimes forced to make hard decisions.

“Women are just out here trying to survive, you know?” she said. “And Mississippi doesn’t make it any easier.”

Associated Press reporters Noreen Nasir in Jackson, Mississippi, and Jasen Lo in Chicago contributed to this report.

by Orissa Arend

            Historically, we have thought of reparations for African Americans in terms of land or money. But a recent forum of Justice and Beyond (J&B April 25) focused on energy reparations in New Orleans. “Petro-racial capitalism” is a term used by Nikki Luke and Nik Heymen in a scholarly paper. They were panelists on the J&B forum. Delving into the history of both reparations and the exploitative practices of the energy sector, they noted the “racialized accumulation [of wealth and property] enacted through processes of slavery, patriarchy, imperialism, and genocide.” For an in depth analysis, see “Community Solar as Energy Reparations: Abolishing Petro-Racial Capitalism in New Orleans,” American Quarterly, Volume 72, Number 3, September 2020. 

            Luke and Heyman hold out the real possibility of a renewable and reparative energy system. It would require changing the norms about property, profit, power, and privilege. Maybe the seeds of energy reparations were there all along. In 1865 the Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Order 15 on the recommendation of some Black clergymen. From this Order came the language of “40 acres and a mule.” It strikes me that the mule, that humble, over-worked beast of burden, was the energy part of the formula.

A LOOK AT THE HARMS

            The energy sector in Louisiana has created ecological and economic vulnerability through generations of dispossession and reckless disregard for the damage that industries are causing to our climate. The agricultural plantation culture was replaced in the early twentieth century with the oil and gas plantation culture to make Louisiana “America’s very own petro-state,” in the words of Michael Watts, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Vast profits by energy producers have been realized through regressive taxes and utility rates, regulatory benefits, state subsidies, and tax evasion for extractive industries. Taxpayer money is given as subsidies to the oil and gas companies thus depriving the state’s residents of much needed funds for social services. 

            One result of these practices for African Americans in New Orleans is the fact that 30 percent more whites own homes in our city than do people of color. The gap has widened by 10 percent since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This gap is a result of racist policies in many sectors and state-supported asset stripping. In New Orleans Black households are six times more likely to live in poverty than white households. Lamar Gardere, Executive Director of the Data Center, was also a panelist. He provided much needed information from the Data Center’s “Prosperity Index” for Justice and Beyond’s call for a Reparations Task Force and Community Fund.

DATA CENTER

             After Hurricane Katrina, substantial property credits were given to HOMEOWNERS for renovation and also for residential solar energy. Renters were left on their own. Six percent of household income is considered an affordable amount to spend on utilities. In New Orleans, low-income residents pay 10 percent. Luke and Heynen recommend “continued organizing against the corrupt practices of utilities like Entergy, which advance petro-racial capitalism without concern for the planet or people.” They stress “continued organizing” because they want New Orleanians to be aware of bold efforts yielding  valuable lessons from the past.

A HISTORY OF RESISTANCE

            New Orleans has a history of reparations organizing and politics. A few examples: On February 27, 1865 the New Orleans Freedman’s Aid Association bought land from the government to lease to collectively organized groups of Black farmers. The cooperative economic model included self-help banks. That endeavor came to a screeching halt when President Andrew Johnson decided to give the land back to the former Confederates and plantation owners.

            Another example: Five days after Katrina, former Black Panthers Malik Rahim, Robert King, and a small band of revolutionaries, pooled their resources and started the Common Ground Collective. These revolutionaries resurrected the survival programs of the Black Panthers from the 1960s and early 1970s and taught their collective organizing principles to an immense cadre of young, mostly white volunteers from all over the country and around the world. They gutted houses, set up health clinics, planted trees and gardens, and showed what could be done with hardly any money and little or no government help. Malik was a Green Party candidate for New Orleans City Council in 2002 and for Congress in 2006.   Environmental Justice was central to his platform.

            Perhaps there is a historical thru-line and an opportunity to revisit some of the unfinished goals of emancipation. In 2018 New Orleans initiated the first community solar program in the southern U.S.  The City Council advanced the Community Solar Rule. Council President Helena Moreno says that by making solar panels available by subscription in communal areas   the new Rule would “allow individuals to benefit from the power and bill credits that independent solar projects produce without installing panels on their own homes. This helps all New Orleanians, especially low-income ratepayers, benefit from solar energy production without outsized installation costs.”

             Logan Burke of the Alliance for Affordable Energy explained our energy situation at the Justice and Beyond forum in this way:  “While Louisiana’s economic story is often told as ‘energy rich,’ the extractive nature of traditional energy economies have left most residents out of the riches. The power of renewable, distributed, and efficient energy is that it can be democratized, put in community hands, and benefit more than just corporations. The key will be whether policies are enabled that support individual rights, and whether the communities that have been so harmed by extractive practices, especially Black and Indigenous communities, will receive the first fruits of energy democracy.”

            “The first fruits of energy democracy.” Wouldn’t it be glorious if the institutional innovations currently being undertaken by the New Orleans City Council bore just such a bounty? But we know from experience that vigilance and continued anti-racist organizing will be required to accomplish this kind of repair.