"The state of Black America is in crisis—and we see justice challenged at every turn."
So says this year's National Urban League assessment of racial equality in the U.S., which considers employment, income, housing, education, health, social justice, and civic engagement. The 39th edition of the State of Black America, released Thursday, is titled: Save Our Cities: Education + Justice + Jobs.
Its findings, said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, "are a clarion call that a more comprehensive, inclusive and on-the-ground recovery is necessary to ensure a healthy future for our nation and that we cannot expect to successfully move forward when we are leaving so many behind."
"Few times in a nation's history is its collective conscience shocked and awakened across racial, economic, generational and even ideological lines as ours has been over the past year," he added. "We are in that moment, and as long as justice is challenged on any front, we will keep pushing on every front."
The League's 2015 Equality Index of Black America—a section of the report that analyzes national statistics from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—stands at 72.2 percent.
What that means is that "Blacks experience less than three-fourths the quality of life experienced by white Americans," the report explains, citing a lower median income, higher unemployment rate, and greater likelihood to be living in poverty.
The Equality Index of Hispanic America, meanwhile, hovers just below 78 percent, with such disparities only slightly less egregious.
The searing report notes many instances of injustice experienced by the Black community, including a lack of accountability for police officers responsible for killing unarmed Black men, teenagers, and children, pervasive economic inequality, and "a continual assault on voting rights."
On the education front, the Urban League declares:
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Lastly, justice has been challenged regarding education—undoubtedly one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time. Disparities remain in both the K-12 and higher education system. Sixty years after the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation in America’s public schools, separate and unequal is still a pervasive reality. While de jure, or legal, segregation has been abolished, de facto, or the actual practice of segregation, is greater now than it was 40 years ago.
Black and Brown students are less likely to share classrooms with white students. We also see separate and unequal levels of expectations and resources in our schools that continue to break down along economic, and thus largely color, lines.
In an essay included in the report and published at the Urban League's State of Black America website, Drs. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins—authors of The Pact, We Beat the Streets, and The Bond—offer advice on how to move forward.
"Our Black communities continue to face inconceivable hardships and struggles," they acknowledge. "From the outside looking in, it often appears we are frozen in a state of non-progress. We are faced with a lack of job opportunities, inadequate educational facilities and resources and ongoing violence."
So we want to offer a solution – one that is very simple and practical, one that we all can work collectively to enforce:
- Let solidarity take front seat.
- Form strong, positive friendships and networks.
- Form a forward-looking, pact with friends, family, neighbors, a higher power.
- Use education as a tool to build a better community.
Below, in the first of a seven-part video series, Morial discusses the 2015 State of Black America with economist Dr. Valerie Rawlston Wilson.