Of the vast and vital work that we do at the Urban League of Portland, perhaps no single project means as much to as many members of the community as our groundbreaking State of Black Oregon Report.
The State of Black Oregon 2015, the result of a two-year program of research, provides an updated look at how Black Oregonians are doing – in schools, jobs, and both urban and rural communities throughout the state. The first State of Black Oregon report was released in 2009.
Among the findings are that the disparities highlighted 5 years ago in the first State of Black Oregon report: unemployment, health, education achievement, housing instability – have persisted or gotten worse. And that the wealth gap between Blacks and Whites has widened even further. For example, 30% of Black families live below Poverty Levels, compared with 11.7% of White families. Black families face more than double the rate of food insecurity as well, with 44.1% of Black families affected, compared with 18.7% of White families.
Other disparities include a rate of incarceration for Black Oregonians that is six times higher than their White counterparts, and nearly double the rate of Black unemployment in the State of Oregon when compared with the White majority; That rate rises to nearly triple in the city of Portland, where Black unemployment is at 20.7% compared with 7.6% for Whites.
The State of Black Oregon tells the story of Black Oregonians through the lens of childhood and youth, adulthood and community, using data, analysis and storytelling. The 2015 report goes beyond simply providing a snapshot of Black Oregon; it also lays out an ambitious policy agenda – including a comprehensive Jobs Plan for Black Oregon. The policy vision also includes a proposal to improve health outcomes for Black women and children by investing in the crucial first 1000 days of life.
The 200 page report features 18 essays from leaders throughout Oregon on issues including universal childcare, health equity, gentrification and entrepreneurship. There are 21 case studies from across the state, from Medford in the south, to rural Pendleton in the east to Astoria and the central gentrifying urban centers. It includes 12 pages of detailed data tables.
Taken together, the report is a roadmap to address longstanding inequities in employment, education, housing, health, criminal justice and wealth creation – and to pave the way for success.
The Executive Summary is available for download here, as well.