New State of Black Los Angeles report paints better picture despite socioeconomic challenges

A new racial equality study from the Los Angeles Urban League says the quality of life for black Angelenos has moderately improved, despite the national economic slump. Researchers discussed the findings during a symposium at California African American Museum.

This year's State of Black Los Angeles study reports slight gains for blacks in education, employment and health. That's a brighter picture than a similar study six years ago reflected.

In response to the earlier report, activists - who considered it long on problems and short on solutions - sought to improve conditions for black Angelenos. Neighborhood groups promoted education reform, tried to bolster public safety and worked with medical professionals to improve healthcare.

Researcher Michael Stoll with UCLA said the call to action has paid off in Park Mesa Heights, a 70-block area of South LA where most of the inhabitants are African American.

"Because of the economic recession and the deterioration of housing market effects on Park Mesa Heights, we would have probably seen Park Mesa Heights fall relative to some of the areas that we were observing," Stoll said. "But because of Neighborhoods@Work, Park Mesa Heights was able to keep ground and actually gain
even though minority and low income communities like Park Mesa Heights tend to be hit disproportionately hard during these kind of national dislocating factors."

Despite gains, the report said blacks in the Southland drastically fall behind other racial and ethnic groups in economic, housing and criminal justice parity. Researchers indicate an almost 30 % gap in quality of life indicators between blacks and whites who live in LA County.

Six years ago, Urban League researchers prepared a similar study that painted a bleaker picture of African-Americans in Los Angeles, compared to people in other racial groups. The new study suggests that people who live in South L.A. have taken a more active role investing and involving themselves in local institutions that have helped improve their quality of life.

The California Endowment and the A.C. Nielsen Company helped sponsor the new State of Black Los Angeles report.

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