UCLA Releases the State of Black California 2024 Report

The University of California, Los Angeles has recently released a new report, The State of Black California 2024, which assesses the progress of Black residents of California from 2000 to 2020. The paper is part of the university’s Black Policy Project, an initiative overseen by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Using United States Census data, the authors created an equity index to measure the overall socioeconomic outcomes of Black Californians in the areas of economics, housing, health, education, criminal justice, and civic engagement. The authors used an equity index score of 1.00 for White residents to serve as a baseline. Compared to all other measured racial groups, Black Americans scored the lowest at an equity index of just 0.69 in 2020; barely an increase from the 0.66 score measured in 2000. The authors write that at this rate of progress, “it would take nearly 248 years to close the gap between Black and White Californians.”

The report found that Black Californians made the most progress in the civic engagement category with an equity index score of 1.23 – meaning Black Californians’ participation in civic engagement is higher than that of their White neighbors. The authors state that this high civic engagement score suggests that the overall equity index for Black Californians would be significantly lower if not for their high score in this area. Black Californians’ lowest score was in the economics category with an equity index of 0.63 percent.

In addition to their equity index analysis, the authors investigated the demographic changes for Black Californians over the past two decades. From 2000 to 2020, the Black population in California decreased from 2.2 million to 2.1 million. Black people represented 5.6 percent of the California population in 2020, down from 6.6 percent in 2000.

A large majority of California cities and regions experienced a decline in their Black populations, with only the Inland Empire and Sacramento experiencing growth in their Black population. Additionally, a greater share of Black Californians now live in non-metro areas. In 2000, 16.7 percent of all Black California residents lived outside of a metro area. In 2020, that share increased by 8 percentage points. The authors believe the shrinking population of Black residents in California metro areas is due to racial gentrification and increasing housing costs, especially in the major cities of Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The authors stress California policymakers utilize their findings when addressing the racial disparities that persist for Black Californians. The Bunche Center for African American Studies plans to continue to collect and release data on Black Californians’ progress, hoping to provide a better understanding of what efforts are needed to attain progress toward racial equality in the state.

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