Don’t be fooled by California’s increasing diversity. Racial and ethnic inequity remains a key problem and a potential barrier to future growth, according to Race Counts, a new Web tool that measures racial and ethnic disparities in the state’s 58 counties.
Marin County, for example — one of the wealthiest and most socially progressive communities in America — ranks dead last when it comes to racial inequities in several key factors, according to the data.
Likewise, the four county Southern California region — Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino — are struggling with racial inequity in areas as basic as income, education, healthcare and incarceration, the data shows.
Unveiled Nov. 14 by Advancement Project California, a Los Angeles-based civil rights group that worked on the project with USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and the immigration rights group PICO National Network and California Calls, the study examines seven specific measures — economic opportunity, healthcare access, education, housing, democracy, crime and justice, and environment. The group then tracked publicly accessible data to show how Caucasians, Latinos, Asians and African Americans fare in each category.
The end result offered two measures of performance — how all residents in a county are faring, collectively, on the seven categories, and, secondly, how each racial or ethnic group fares when compared with the best performing group in the same county.
John Kim, executive director of the Advancement Project, said the goal was to shake Californians out of “their complacency” that the state’s progressive political bent and rising multiculturalism is translating into less racial inequity.
“This report is like an MRI scan,” Kim said. “(It) digs deeper, so we can see under the surface and identify the systems that need to be reinvented.
“In California, racial disparity seems to be accepted as the normal cost of doing business,” he added.
And as a “majority minority” state, that should not be acceptable any more, Kim said. “If we don’t solve these disparities, California is going to decline.”
The purpose of the study, Kim added, is not to point fingers or vilify any one group.
“There are places in California, like Kern and San Bernardino counties, where white communities are struggling,” he said. “So, the data also shows… we need to create new coalitions where we all work together toward progress and…