Pittsburgh is often lauded for being one of “America’s Most Livable Cities”, but there is a disturbing wart on that claim.
Race relations, especially the relationship between African Americans and the Police, have been a mainstay in the national news. We see stories from St. Louis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, but we Pittsburghers don’t see much on the news about a very real problem, right in our own back yard.
The University of Pittsburgh, in concert with the Heinz Endowment, has released, “Pittsburgh’s Racial demographics 2015: Differences and Disparities.”
The report is not encouraging. Pittsburgh rates very badly in terms of education, wages and arrests for African Americans versus whites, and the trend has not improved since the last report in 2007.
The war on drugs and criminal justice disparities were of particular concern as being root causes of a larger problem of hopelessness in the African American community.
“There was a far greater disparity locally in the arrest rates of black and white citizens than is the case nationally. Black youths were arrested at twice the rate of white youths nationally, but six times as much in the Pittsburgh region. The violent crime arrest rate for adults was four times higher for blacks than whites nationally, but 10 times higher in the region.”
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay recently came under fire for a photo showing him with a sign challenging racism.
“I resolve to challenge racism @ work. #endwhitesilence.”
Although the police union was displeased and stated their concerns that the photo, which appeared on social media, would undermine police morale, Pittsburgh’s new Mayor, Bill Peduto, has voiced his support for the Chief. Read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article here.
It is clear from the findings of this report, the Chief, and the Mayor, have legitimate concerns–concerns that existed prior to the release of this report– and are willing to take the lead in a kitchen that is becoming increasingly hot. Let’s hope they, and we, don’t end up getting burned.