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Atlanta Doesn't Totally Fail at Racial Equality

Thanks to a refreshingly accessible study released last month, overwhelming spreadsheets and an endless variety of unintelligible data are no longer excuses not to take a closer look at what the US Census can tell us about the state of racial equality in Atlanta. According to the DC-based think tank Urban Institute, which compiled statistics they felt contribute to equity for minority populations and then ranked the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas, our city earns a "B" for equality for African American residents and a "D" for equality for hispanic residents. -Sarah Beth McKay

Atlanta is ranked 40th for African American racial equity — small gaps in both employment and homeownership rates compensate for the relatively severe segregation of black and white residents (Atlanta scores a 58.3 on a Dissimilarity Index compiled by Brown University's US2010 project, where 60 and above is considered "highly segregated"). The metro area's racial equity for Latino residents is statistically much worse; ranked 67th by the UI, it's standing was sunk by a considerable gaps in homeownership and school test scores. Demographers have attributed this discrepancy to a expanding black middle class attracted to cities who boast still-growing suburban areas, as well as the tendency of recent immigrants to settle in "concentrated ethnic enclaves."

While we'll always be in support of interactive maps that bring light to important demographic trends in our cities, the study is not without it's caveats. This same data, used by some to proclaim Atlanta's (and the country's) overall progress in residential integration, has been used to conclude the opposite as well. Furthermore, as discussed by The Atlantic Cities blog at length, comparing urban racial equity across regions deserves a much more complicated calculation — the UI's 'grades' fail to consider general demographic differences between the cities it ranked, as well as the importance of developmental and historical narratives unique to each microcosm. Still, as Southerners, it's hard not to be proud — our region, for once, is covered in blue! -Sarah Beth McKay