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Taking a "high definition MRI scan" of California's racial equity




SAN QUENTIN, CA - AUGUST 15:  A condemned inmate stands with handcuffs on as he prepres to be released from the exercise yard back to his cell at San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.
SAN QUENTIN, CA - AUGUST 15: A condemned inmate stands with handcuffs on as he prepres to be released from the exercise yard back to his cell at San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.
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California is perceived as a true blue state, through and through. But a new analysis reveals the Golden State may not be as progressive as we think.

By looking at measures like economic opportunity, education and criminal justice, the "Race Counts" study compiled data from California's 58 counties to piece together a statewide picture of racial equity.

The Advancement Project, a civil rights group based in L.A., authored the "Race Counts" report. Executive director John Kim spoke with A Martinez about the study's finding so far.

First, Kim explained the three different dimensions through which California's counties were measured: disparity, impact and performance.

"The full scope of racial disparity is sometimes vague or deep beneath the surface," explained Kim. "It's difficult for us to actually put our eyes on the issues that are involved with these racial disparities." And so "Race Counts" is a tool meant to be used to dig deeper into the hidden mechanics of racial disparities throughout the state--a "high definition MRI scan of California."

How did Los Angeles fare?

The report describes Los Angeles County as a "low performance, low disparity, and more populous county;" a racially and ethnically diverse population that typically has a hard time getting ahead.

In terms of disparity, we rank 30th out of the 58 counties and in terms of performance, we're 45th. These rankings put us in the same category as Kern and San Bernardino counties.

"The issues that are really driving our racial disparity would be criminal justice and housing," explained Kim. "When you look just the issue of incarceration all of a sudden L.A. County jumps to number 2, we have one of the highest racial disparities in terms of incarceration... The most impacted would be African-Americans in L.A. County."

"Race Counts" found African-Americans in the county to be 13 times more likely to be incarcerated than someone of white descent and 100 times more likely to be incarcerated than Asians or Pacific Islanders. L.A. County may be around average in racial disparities overall, but incarceration and the criminal justice system are at the heart of the issue.

To hear more "Race Counts" findings and some possible solutions, click the blue play button above.