NAACP survey finds race a factor in Charlotte economic inequality

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Entrenched poverty is a reality in Charlotte, according to a report authored by the NAACP.

The study analyzed the impact of historical racism and segregation on the region and makes recommendations for eliminating poverty existing in large swaths of the city. The NAACP will host a press conference Feb. 6 at Little Rock AME Zion Church, to announce details from its Economic Inclusion Plan.

Participants will include the Rev. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, City Council members James Mitchell and Braxton Winston, activist Lucille Puckett, and Robert Dawkins, State Organizer, NC SAFE.

Charlotte was one of three cities surveyed by the NAACP because of recent social uprisings connected at least in part to perceived economic inequality and police-civilian confrontations. The other reports are from Baltimore and St. Louis.

Charlotte exploded in violent protests in 2016 when Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brently Vinson. A week of uprisings left another man dead and resulted in City Council drafting a series of initiatives to address economic inequality and social capital.

“Charlotte was once known as a site of great promise for racial justice,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “In 1974, it was called ‘The city that made integration work.’ However, the persistence of voter suppression has prevented this early progress from having a lasting effect on African Americans’ prosperity in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina.”

The EIP is the NAACP’s resource for communities, elected officials and stakeholders to alleviate racial discrimination through economic policy and programs. The study analyzed how Charlotte, Baltimore and St. Louis deal with economic inequalities and makes recommendations for improving the economic health of African Americans. Among the goals: Advance affordable housing, launch initiatives to alleviate homelessness, improve access to quality education, and create legal remedies that support racial equality and reduce poverty.

“These economic inclusion plans provide in-depth research on the current economic conditions and the policies that foster these conditions, and then makes recommended policy changes necessary in these cities,” said Marvin J. Owens Jr., the NAACP’s senior director of economic programs. “We are grateful for the leadership of our local chapters and state conferences who contributed to this important work, and we are faithful in the fight for economic justice.”

The Charlotte report found economic contrasts rooted in racist policies are still prevalent. The study revealed government-sanctioned practices that perpetuate homelessness as well as racial disparities in arrests and gerrymandered voting districts.

Charlotte’s black poverty rate, according to the survey, is more than double that of whites within the metropolitan statistical district. Despite a growing, more affluent population, African American children are more than three times more likely to live in poverty than whites, and Hispanic children are 5.5 times more likely. Black unemployment in Charlotte is 2.6 times higher than the white rate – higher than the national average.

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