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It’s not the kind of list any city wants to appear on, but Racine recently had the distinction of being named the third worst city in the United States for black residents.

The ranking, from online news site 24/7 Wall St., was published a few days ago in USA Today.

“We’re movin’ on up. Not to the eastside, or the westside,” said community activist Alfonso Gardner in remarks to the City of Racine Common Council Tuesday evening. “But African-Americans are movin’ up to the poor side of town. Instead of being no. 4, now we’re no. 3 for the worst place for African-Americans to live.”
Gardner added: “I have some ideas I think we should take a look at.”

He suggested a broad community-wide meeting to address the multiple issues the city’s ranking reveals on the list. “We need to have a community forum for the African-American community,” Garner said. “We have been affected most by this. I know whites are being affected, too, but it’s really killing the black community to have this statistic on us.”

According to the ranking:
3. Racine, Wisconsin
• Black population: 21,450 (11.0 percent)
• Black median income: $26,888 (42.3 percent of white income)
• Unemployment: 16.6 percent black; 6.1 percent white
• Homeownership rate: 31.4 percent black; 77.1 percent white


“We have an African American police chief who is here tonight. We have an African American superintendent of schools. We have an African American CEO of the United Way,” Gardner told the Common Council. “Those three entities should put this together. Along with the mayor, the county executive” and representatives of local major industries and businesses.

Why Racine is ranked?

Racine is one of a number of Rust Belt cities where social and economic outcomes for black residents trail far behind those of white residents, explains the USA Today article. “For example,” notes the report, “the typical black household in the Racine metro area earns just $26,888 a year, less than half the $63,507 annual income the typical white household in the area earns.”

Read the USA Today article.

To determine the list of worst cities for black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of eight measures to assess race-based gaps in socioeconomic outcomes in each of the nation’s metropolitan areas.


“Listen to us, don’t discount us,” Gardner urged the Common Council. “We really want to help, but we never get asked to help. We get put to the side all the time. It’s time you gave us an opportunity to help you solve this problem.”

Rex Davenport

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.