Get our free newsletter
A new report released by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, a national network devoted to improving outcomes for black men and boys, finds that D.C. ranks among the top three of the 50 U.S. cities the group studied regarding efforts to advance racial progress and fulfill black needs.
With a score of 97 out of 100 possible points, the District joins Detroit and Oakland as the cities that the CBMA determined to show the most “engagement and committed action” to address social issues and opportunities for their black male populations. The index examined the cities’ demographics, participation in local and national initiatives, targeted funding supporting black males, and CBMA membership. A score higher than 71 indicates a “high level” across those measures; the median score among the cities was 48.5.
“We would be tone-deaf if we did not acknowledge what’s happening across this country, as the Black Lives Matter movement reveals,” explains Shawn Dove, CBMA’s CEO. “We have seen pockets of promise [and] great work that is happening, which we feel is really important to lift up. But there’s also the reality that if we don’t invest in leaders and organizations, the negative life-outcomes we’ve seen will continue to grow.”
D.C. received its high score in part due to the millions of dollars it has invested towards closing the achievement gap for men of color, including Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson‘s signature initiative devoted to that cause. The District also got high marks for joining President Barack Obama‘s “My Brother’s Keeper” challenge and the Cities United group as well as for enacting a “ban the box” law: It restricts when employers can ask applicants about their criminal history.
On the other side of the index lie San Diego, Oklahoma City, and Columbus, Ga. A majority of the top ten cities are located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Still, the inaugural report notes that the scores do not represent the “best cities” for black males to live in, nor how well black males are fairing in the selected cities or the quality of relevant initiatives in those cities. CBMA recommends ways in which cities can raise their scores, such as encouraging philanthropists to donate locally and joining national initiatives.
“Typically when we enter places and spaces and conversations around African American males, it’s grounded in a deficit narrative,” says Chris Chatmon, executive director of the Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African-American Male Achievement. “We need to change the narrative from deficit to asset. No single organization has a silver-bullet solution [to] supporting life-outcomes for black males.”
You can view the report below (a D.C.-specific section is on page 25; the methodology begins on page 14).
Screenshots via CBMA report