Report: Mpls. race, ethnic-based disparities pervasiveby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — More than half of U.S.-born African-American children in Minneapolis live in poverty, according to a study's findings.
A new report from the Minneapolis Foundation shows disparities between racial and ethnic groups in Minneapolis are pervasive.
The report, called One Minneapolis, is a compilation of data gathered in two dozen categories researchers say are key indicators of well-being - including education, employment, economic vitality and social connection.
In nearly every category, racial minorities, especially those of low-income, lag behind affluent and white residents.
Some of the widest disparities occur in the area of education. The study found that about one-third of kindergartners who speak Spanish at home are prepared to start school, while 94 percent of white students are ready. And the report says children who speak Somali at home come to school better prepared to learn than Hmong and Spanish speakers.
"Everyone here in our community is not faring well," said foundation vice president Karen Kelley-Ariwoola. "In particular, people of color and low income people of color are doing less well in almost every indicator we could think of."
"What I think is really important to understand about this One Minneapolis report is that for any one of these indicators there's a ripple effect that gets created," she said. "So if kids aren't ready for kindergarten you can already look ahead to third grade reading, for example, and see that kids aren't going to be ready."
The foundation will release similar reports annually through 2015. It was commissioned by Wilder Research to do the study. Officials with the foundation say the report will help the organization focus its efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the city.
A sampling of findings from the study:
• About 3,300 Minneapolis Public Schools students had the potential to graduate on time, yet only about 1,460 did, for an overall rate of 44 percent.
• Only 1 in 5 American Indian students, 1 in 4 Hispanic students and 1 in 3 black students graduated on time in 2009. That compares to 6 in 10 Asian students and 7 in 10 white students.
• Only about a third of lower-income students graduate in four years.
• During the 2009-2010 school year, 4,151 Minneapolis Public School students received one or more out-of-school suspensions. Of those, more than 3,000 of them were black.
• Since 2004, the percentage of Minneapolis Public School students who perceived they had a caring adult from the community in their lives has risen from 67 percent to 73 percent.
• Minneapolis' affordable rental units accounted for 34 percent of all the affordable rental units in the Twin Cities 7-county region in 2009, and 19 percent of all the affordable rental units in the state.
• Only 2 in 10 low-income renters and owners within Minneapolis have housing costs that require less than 30 percent of their income. Hispanic households are the least likely to have housing costs that are considered affordable. Only about 1 in 10 Hispanic, low-income households have secured affordable housing.
• Despite the economic downturn, the workforce participation rate in Minneapolis of 73 percent is only 2 percentage points lower than the workforce participation rates among Minneapolis adults in 2000 and 1990. But the number doesn't capture underemployment or what percentage were working full-time versus part-time.
• Twenty-two out of each 1,000 Minneapolis youth ages 10-17 were arrested for serious crimes in 2009, down by about half from 45 youth per 1,000 in 2000.
• In 2010, 9 percent of Minneapolis residents reported experiencing situations where they felt unaccepted because of their race, ethnicity or culture at least once a month. The rate is similar to 2006 but is a significant decrease from 19 percent in 2002.
In 2009, 21 percent of American Indian students graduated from high school on time, compared to 71 percent of white students.
American Indian community activists like Bill Zigler say low graduation rates are a major concern. Zigler is the president of the Little Earth community — an all-Indian housing development in south Minneapolis. He said traditionally, one reason fewer Indian students finish high school is that people don't expect them to, even other Indians.
"The greatest crime that I think we, as Indian people, have committed against ourselves is that we believe the lie that was told about us," Zigler said. "And to that end, it's the subtle racism of low expectations that we perpetrated against ourselves."
Zigler says through tutoring and mentoring programs, Little Earth has increased the number of its graduates every year since he arrived in the community seven years ago.
The One Minneapolis report does not compare the city's populations of color to those in other cities around the country. However, in a few instances, the report places data from Minneapolis next to statistics from neighboring communities. For example, the report compares the city's overall voter turnout for the 2010 election to St. Paul and to the surrounding seven county region. Turnout in Minneapolis was slightly higher than in St. Paul and lower than the rest of the region.
Andi Egbert, a research associate with Wilder Research, said the report is a forward-looking study and does not compare old data to new statistics. But she said certain trends were easy to identify.
"Obviously, the recession's toll is really evident in terms of residents who do not have affordable housing — rising shares of them. Poverty numbers continue to rise. So, fewer things than we'd like to see moving in the right direction."
(MPR reporter Elizabeth Dunbar contributed to this report.)