Race on LI: What’s the gap between Black, white Long Islanders?

nextLI’s series “Race on LI” explored racial inequality in the region –– and the numbers were staggering:

Black Long Islanders
Black households

The numbers reveal Black people suffer more systemic disadvantages than white people in Long Island and the country as a whole.

According to a New York Times analysis, the black-white wage gap is as large as it was in 1950––before the pressure of the civil rights movements’ that influenced landmark rulings ending racial segregation in public schooling and voting, like Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act in 1957.

If you’re Black, you’re more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have a job and/or access to healthcare –– and you’ll likely make less than the median income.

Unequal access to affordable housing, quality food and healthcare services, and job opportunities, along with cultural barriers, are persistent barriers stagnating LI’s minority groups.

This means these discrepancies in poverty, unemployment, healthcare coverage and income influence each other. Where there is a gap in one area, it is similarly reflected in other areas for the Black population.

The median Black household makes $16,000 less than the median white household, based on comparisons of median household income in 2018.

Perhaps the most clear indicator of racial inequality is reflected in the pandemic’s uneven toll on Long Islanders of color, which has hit the region’s densest, often minority, districts the hardest.

Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell brought some good news on modest rebounds in the economy’s projected slow recovery, but with a caveat: the longer the pandemic, the wider, more damaging the financial gap will become for minorities and low-income Americans.

“Low-income households have experienced, by far, the sharpest drop in employment, while job losses of African Americans, Hispanics, and women have been greater than that of other groups,” Powell said in his semiannual report to Congress. “If not contained and reversed, the downturn could further widen gaps in economic well-being that the long expansion had made some progress in closing.”

Our findings on LI’s racial divide are based on the latest available data, which predates COVID-19’s deadly spread. However, the higher rates of coronavirus deaths in Black and Hispanic communities last month strongly indicate the gap is widening.

If Long Island wishes to be equitable, how should we address this Black-white gap? Share your thoughts below.