The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights released a revised version of its Status of African Americans in Kentucky report, and statistics show that blacks continue to struggle in the commonwealth. Relying on a variety of sources, the study encapsulates the most recent information affecting African-Americans in housing, education and the criminal justice system.
At the socio-economic level, for instance, the white per capita income is nearly double that of African-Americans and there are twice as many blacks compared to whites living below the poverty line.
“The state’s largest minority must have an equal opportunity to live with the same quality as everyone,” John J. Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights said in a statement. “It is our hope that a hard look at statistics like these can help Kentucky plan for continued progress in wiping out remaining vestiges of discrimination.”
There are some areas that reflects improvements, however. In education, for instance, African-American students maintain gradual increases each year at the post-secondary undergraduate level. The increase in enrollment has exceeded its representation in the Kentucky population. And a higher percentage of blacks in Kentucky owned their own homes than in any other state.
Here are the report’s highlights:
The graduation rate of African-American students is 11 percent lower than the white rate and the dropout rate in 2008 was 2.9% for white students, 6.1% for African Americans and 6% for Hispanic students.
Approximately 92 percent of racially motivated hate crimes are perpetrated against African Americans.
There is a severe shortage of minority teachers in Kentucky public schools. Kentucky has only 3.7 percent African American teachers in proportion to 13 percent minority students.
70 percent of African-American children are brought up in a single-parent family.
The unemployment rate for African-Americans was 14.5 percent in July 2009 while it was 8.6 percent for whites.
African-Americans make up 7.7 percent of the population, but 31.7 percent of the total Kentucky prison population.
The commission’s depressing numbers also accentuates a troubling study recently released by the the Greater Louisville Project, which has been overlooked in the local media. The study found that among its 15 peer cities, Louisville ranks dead last in terms of education attainment for blacks.
More alarming: Based on three years of data from the American Community Survey, 30% of white adults held a bachelor’s degree or higher, but only 13% of African Americans did – the lowest among Louisville’s 15 peer cities. The racial gap in college attainment has widened since 1990 …
In Kentucky, nearly 50 percent of black population lives in the city of Louisville. And west end resident Haven Harrington, who operates a blog focusing on the Russell neighborhood, wrote in a recent post that these statistics indicate the city isn’t doing much to help develop, retain or attract a vibrant black middle-class.
“I would argue the main reason is that African-Americans that have college degrees leave Louisville, or if they graduate from a local school they leave,” Harrington wrote, adding there aren’t enough high paying jobs for blacks with higher levels of education. “Let’s be honest. Louisville isn’t Atlanta. We just don’t offer the same, or any really, opportunities for young black professionals. Most of the people I grew up with left and will never come back.”