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UCLA

Equality Gap Still Exists Among Black and White Californians

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By Jack Feuer

Published Jan 31, 2007 10:00 AM


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A group of California lawmakers vowed to improve college preparation for African Americans, access to better jobs and even the availability of healthier foods in their communities. Members of California's Legislative Black Caucus announced their intentions in Sacramento on Jan. 31, following the release of discouraging findings in the State of Black California Report. Although great strides have been made, the report shows that African-American Californians unfortunately still fare far worse than their Caucasian counterparts in the Golden State, with racial inequality pervasive in economic, housing, health, education and criminal justice sectors, among others.

The report was prepared for the Black Caucus by Michael A. Stoll, UCLA professor of public policy and urban planning in the School of Public Affairs and acting director of the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty, and Steven Raphael, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.

The report offers a "starting point" for change aimed at improving quality of life for blacks throughout the state, said Assemblymember and Caucus chair Mervyn Dymally (D-Los Angeles).

The data was compiled by using an Equality Index, which compared the degree to which blacks enjoy equal conditions relative to those of whites and other ethnic groups. Whites were assigned a constant score of 1.000. Compared to this group, key findings were:

  • The overall Equality Index for blacks in the Report was .69; Latinos also scored .69 overall.
  • The Economic Index for blacks was .59, the lowest score on any measure.
  • Scores for blacks fared below that of whites on every index.

"All of these [factors] are related," noted Stoll. For example, if a student's high school does not offer access to the academic requirements for UC-eligibility, that can lead to less income in the student's future, Stoll said. And "if they don't have good income, they can't get quality health care, and then they can't participate civically."

Some black Californians have done quite well socially and economically, Stoll said.

"But there remain significant gaps in social and economic outcomes between black Californians and others, especially whites," the researchers said.

This story updates an item posted January 31, with additional information about responses to the report by Members of California’s Legislative Black Caucus.

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