Editorial: State of Black Long Beach

The Community Editorial Board wanted to conclude Black History Month with an editorial about the state of Black Long Beach. We had questions. About demographics, educational equity, economic inclusion, health equity, and policing disparities. We found partial answers from different sources and different years.

The first and only State of Black Long Beach was published in 2012 and provides dated facts. USC’s 2016 “An Equitable Growth Profile of the City of Long Beach” and the city’s 2019 “Community Health Assessment” includes data on Black Long Beach alongside the city’s other demographics. The Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative initial report published by the city in 2020 includes one page of statistics.

From what we can gather, Long Beach is 12.5% Black with a majority of its Black residents residing in 90805. This population percentage has remained relatively stable for the past 40 years.

Long Beach Unified School District suspension rates for Black students are disproportionately high. Black students are almost 14 times more likely to be suspended than White students. However, Black students are graduating from high school on par with their peers.

Black workers still maintain higher levels of unemployment (12.2% in 2016) regardless of educational attainment. The Black Long Beach poverty rate is 24.8%. Black entrepreneurs earn less than any other population in Long Beach. A long history of racist policies has kept our Black populations from experiencing economic mobility. Home ownership rates are 25% for Blacks in Long Beach which is half the White home ownership rate. Blacks are twice as likely to be without a vehicle compared to other races.

The life expectancy at birth for Blacks in Long Beach in 2017 was 71.5 years, which is about seven years less than other racial groups. Blacks have the highest age-adjusted mortality rate of any race or ethnicity in every year measured from 2014 to 2017, with a high rate of 1,294.6 deaths per 100,000 of the Black population in 2017.

Blacks in Long Beach are more likely to be stopped by the police. They are also more likely to be subject to police use of force.

Here’s the thing: This relatively depressing data was tabulated before COVID-19. What is the real state of Black Long Beach? Right now?

The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard reports Black deaths at 14% which is on par with the Black percentage of the population and does not signal an extreme racial disparity. Discovering the rest of the data requires some serious digging and prying from public agencies, which are reluctant to provide it.

Long Beach needs more public data dashboards. Long Beach needs a 2022 State of Black Long Beach. It is unacceptable that the last data collection exclusively about Black Long Beach was 10 years ago. The city cannot effectively launch a Race & Reconciliation Initiative until there is up-to-date, accurate data on Black Long Beach.

We’ve got to get counting. Our community desperately needs recent data on how Black Long Beach is doing. This data will structure and support new initiatives and programs that encourage equity. Until the city and its council supports and leads efforts in this data collection, it’s the community initiatives that count. Email us at [email protected] what community initiatives are working to increase education, economic, health, and policing equity in Black Long Beach. We’ll add them to our list.

As Black History Month comes to an end, we are reminded that it’s not just Long Beach’s Black past that matters. Data on our Black present will predict Black Long Beach’s future.

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The Community Editorial Board is made up of seven members of the Long Beach community and are drawn from different life journeys, different parts of the city and different socioeconomic experiences. The board writes on issues and subjects in which it has a personal interest, experience or expertise. The board operates wholly separate from the newsroom and members serve a one-year term. The Community Editorial Board can be reached at [email protected]
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