CityBeat Cincinnati takes a look at the Queen City's race and inequality problem and finds that there are no easy answers, and a whole hell of a lot of hard questions.
Cincinnati’s economic and geographic segregation hasn’t gone unnoticed. A 2011 study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Social Science Data Analysis Network found that Cincinnati is the eighth most-segregated city in America. A study of major U.S. cities by social science journal New Geography published in January ranked Cincinnati 50 out of 52 cities when it came to the economic prospects of black residents.
A CityBeat analysis of 2010 Census neighborhood and census tract-level demographic data shows the disturbing extent of the economic isolation in Cincinnati’s black neighborhoods. And that isolation seems to be getting worse.
Of the city’s 10 neighborhoods with the lowest median household incomes, nine are more than 70-percent black. Six of those neighborhoods with considerable populations — The Villages at Roll Hill, Winton Hills, West End, Millvale, South Cumminsville and Avondale — are more than 90-percent black.
Each of these neighborhoods has a median household income around half, or less, than the city’s median of about $34,000 a year. In these places, life expectancies are five to 10 years lower than the city as a whole.
At least one of these neighborhoods, Over-the-Rhine, is undergoing a kind of revitalization, and its triumphs and travails are well-covered by the media. But the others are neglected, rarely considered places.
One Cincinnati neighborhood, English Woods, today consists almost entirely of a single housing tower looming over vast, empty, fenced-off fields that once contained the rest of the housing project. It is home to about 400 people, 90 percent of them black. Its median household income is just $8,474 a year.
Together, these lowest-income and predominantly black neighborhoods account for more than 36,000 people, a quarter of the city’s black population.
The history behind why black neighborhoods in Cincinnati are not the kind of things you read in history class. Redlining, white flight, urban renewal and gentrification have all come at the expense of the city's poorer, black neighborhoods. It's still going on today and in fact things have gotten worse.
Black Cincinnati has never recovered from the financial devastation in 2008. It was left behind, yet again. The systemic issues in this country have blown a hole in the side of the boat, and the rising tide only serves to drown millions in poverty.