It is distressing, but not at all surprising, that African Americans and Latinos continue to trail whites in the Kansas City area in key measures of well-being.
That’s the finding of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City’s “2015 State of Black Kansas City” report. Overall, African Americans were only 72 percent as well off as whites, down from highs of 75 percent in 2007 and 2008, the report determined. In health, blacks rated 77 percent, down from a high of 83 percent in 2008; education, 78 percent, down from a high of 85 percent in 2010; social justice, 52 percent, down from a high of 67 percent in 2008; and civic engagement, 1.07 percent, down from a high of 1.14 percent in 2007.
In the equality index, whites are used as the benchmark on a 100-point scale. Why? The report cites America’s racial history, creating advantages for whites that continue to persist. Economics carries the greatest weight, amounting to 30 percent of the overall score, followed by health at 25 percent, education at 25 percent, and social justice and civic engagement each at 10 percent.
Economically, blacks are less well off than whites, rating 57 percent, meaning they are “43 percentage points shy of achieving economic parity.”
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Median African American household income is $29,724 compared with the median white household income of $54,044. The median net worth of African Americans is $6,314 compared with the median net worth for whites of $110,500.
These are distressing numbers particularly as the nation celebrates Black History Month. The report notes that the percentage of blacks without health insurance is twice as high as it is for whites, and unemployment is two to three times higher than it is for whites.
Also, blacks are concentrated in underperforming schools with composite ACT college entrance exam scores for blacks of 14.5 percent compared with 22.8 for whites. Only 12 percent of African American students in Jackson County are proficient in English and language arts compared with 35 percent of white students, and just 14 percent of black students in Jackson County are proficient in math compared with 49 percent of white students.
“Failing to provide quality education for these children places them at extremely high risk for permanent status in America’s underclass,” Gwen Grant, president and chief executive of the Urban League writes in the report.
The economic sub-index for Latinos is 62 percent, putting that segment of the population 38 percentage points shy of achieving economic parity with whites. Hispanics’ median household income is $42,670 and the net worth is $7,683.
“Blacks and Hispanics share common problems,” the report said. “The disparities revealed in both the black and Hispanic equality indices paint a gloomy picture for both groups.
“These inequities in economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement should serve as a clarion call for collaborative action.”
Let’s hope the next Urban League report shows progress instead of the problems for people of color lingering or getting worse.