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A non-racist law with wildly racial impact

Back in December of 2011, I wrote a series of pieces that showed how Michigan's Emergency Manager Law was having a skewed negative impact on African American cities. Today, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced that Detroit will be assigned an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) and with updated census data, it's time to revisit the chart that put this law on the national radar. (Note: they will return to being called "Emergency Managers" when the new version of the law kicks in later this month.)

With the news today that Detroit will be getting an EFM, 49% of the African Americans in Michigan will live in cities where their elected officials have been replaced by a single, state-appointed ruler.

Here is the data:

City Population % African American # of African Americans
Allen Park 27,921 2.1% 586
Benton Harbor 10,047 89.2% 8,962
Detroit 706,585 82.7% 584,346
Ecorse 9,414 46.4% 4,368
Flint 101,558 56.6% 57,482
Pontiac 59,887 52.1% 31,201
Total -- -- 686,945
Michigan 9,876,801 14.2% 1,402,506
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Here's what that looks like graphically in this chart gratiously provided by my good friends at The Rachel Maddow Show from their coverage last week:

If you include cities that are under consent agreements, Inkster with its 18,381 African Americans and River Rouge with 3,950, the percentage rises to 50.6% -- over half.

The school districts with Emergency Financial Managers are also in majority black cities:

  • Detroit -- 82.7%
  • Highland Park -- 93.5%
  • Muskegon Heights -- 78.3%

As I have said in the past, this law isn't overtly racist. However, no matter how you slice it, its impact is blatantly skewed toward African American communities. In fact, except for Allen Park and Ecorse, over half of the residents in cities with Emergency Financial Managers and consent agreements are African Americans.

This is, plainly put, the result of decades of racial inequality in everything from education and employment to housing and economic investment. So, while the law itself isn't racist, the causes of the situations in which the law is applied most certainly have been.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan.

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