There’s a story we often tell ourselves in California – a story about a state that is home to a uniquely diverse population and where everyone is welcome and has an opportunity to succeed.
It’s an affirming and reassuring story for Californians, particularly at a time when our national politics have been hijacked by divisiveness and discord. It is a point of pride to embrace our leadership of the “resistance” to that rising tide of hate.
Still, it’s important for us to re-examine this story every so often. That’s what we set out to do with Race Counts, a new initiative by the Advancement Project California, in partnership with California Calls, PICO California and USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. The comprehensive, cutting-edge research, funded by The California Endowment and other statewide foundations, looked at ways racial disparities play out in all 58 counties across seven crucial issues.
What we found is that our idealistic vision is a far cry from the often grim reality in California today.
The black community is still weighed down with the worst disparities across the most issues, including life expectancy, homeownership, school suspensions, household income and incarceration. The Latino community is the largest racial group impacted by racial disparities. Several prosperous Bay Area counties also have some of the highest levels of racial disparity. And due to massive disparities in criminal justice and housing, Los Angeles County is ranked closely to inland counties such as Kern and San Bernardino.
Race Counts is a reminder that disparities in California are the product of ineffective systems and policies over the last several decades. As the state’s population grew and became more diverse, public investment decreased. So even as enormous wealth was created, the people benefiting from California’s prosperity were overwhelmingly white and already rich.
Click here to continue reading the piece in its entirety at SacBee.com