RACE COUNTS is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on the harsh realities faced by communities of color in California, across critical areas such as housing, education, economic opportunities, and incarceration. The 2023 annual report unveils the data, the challenges, and most importantly, the opportunities for change. In addition, the report also uplifts stories of organizations working on the ground to advance racial equity and offers policy recommendations for reducing racial disparities.
The data reveals that not all counties are created equal. Mono County tops the list as the most racially disparate county in California, with Plumas County closely following. Surprisingly, Marin County, which used to be second, now ranks third in disparities. The Northern/Sierra region counties grapple with worse outcomes and higher disparities compared to other counties. In the Bay Area, despite its prosperity, communities of color do not share in this success. On the bright side, San Diego and Orange County are among the five counties with the lowest disparities, while Placer and El Dorado in the Sacramento area rank among the highest in outcomes. The San Joaquin Valley stands out as the only region where all counties within the region have lower-than-average overall outcomes. In Los Angeles, the largest county in California, disparities exist but are not as pronounced, with notable exceptions like chronic absenteeism rates for Black students.
The Low Wage, High Rent Trap
Statewide, it is disheartening to see that Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Black workers are the least likely to earn a living wage. These communities are the most economically vulnerable, and they were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This data underscores the need for urgent action to address income inequality and racial disparities.
The report highlights the struggles faced by many Californians of color as they grapple with low wages and high rents. More than half of renters in the state pay over 30% of their income on housing, significantly hindering their ability to build wealth. In Southern California, every county has a higher-than-average share of cost-burdened renters. In Los Angeles County, six out of 10 Black and Latino residents are burdened by housing costs, limiting their ability to access housing and financial opportunities.
Students Need More Support From California’s Education System
The education sector presents a grim picture, with California’s schools creating worse outcomes for students of color than for White students. Not only are these disparities evident in graduation rates, but they also extend to suspensions and involvement in the criminal justice system. In some counties, schools in the southern half fare worse than their northern counterparts. For instance, Santa Clara County schools suspend Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Black students at rates more than twice the state average. Statewide, public schools are more likely to suspend Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Latinx students. Black students are suspended more than twice as often as their White peers, highlighting the alarming disparities in our education system.
The Persistence Of Mass Incarceration
Racial disparities in incarceration rates are particularly troubling. Black Californians are incarcerated at three times the state average rate. Fresno County’s criminal justice system stands out as nearly five times more likely to incarcerate Black residents than White residents. The data also reveals that counties are more likely to incarcerate Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Latinx Californians than the average resident.
A Call To Action
The RACE COUNTS 2023 Annual Report is not just a report; it is a call to action. By offering concrete data on racial disparities across California, it equips advocates and policymakers with the tools to address these disparities and work towards a more equitable future. As we emerge into the post-pandemic era, this data is more crucial than ever, empowering us to champion equity, support vulnerable communities, and navigate an uncertain future. The time for change is now, and RACE COUNTS is the trusted, authoritative source to guide us on this journey.
- More than half of renters statewide pay 30 percent or more of what money they make on housing – significantly hindering their ability to build wealth and be prosperous.
- Black students across the state are suspended more than twice as often as the average student.
- Counties are more likely to incarcerate Black, American Indian / Alaska Native, and Latinx Californians than the average resident. Black Californians, in particular, are locked up at three times the state average rate.