By: Ryan Renbaum, MarylandReporter.com(Republished)
Race relations are better in Maryland than in most states, according to a recent study by WalletHub.
The study found that Maryland ranks 9th in racial integration and 11th among states that have made the most racial progress. The study found that Maryland ranks 5th among states with the lowest poverty rate gap.
The study found that New Mexico ranked No.1 in racial integration and Wisconsin and the District of Columbia ranked last. The study found that Wyoming ranked No. 1 in racial progress and Iowa ranked last. Hawaii has the lowest poverty rate gap and Maine has the highest, according to the study.
Maryland was once a state where African Americans were held in bondage. The state’s public schools were legally segregated until the mid-1950s. Baltimore, which is predominantly African American, has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation and is plagued by generational poverty.
So why does Maryland rank so high?
Former Md. Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, called the study: “Interesting, encouraging and hopeful.” He said the findings are “not extraordinarily surprising” but added they are also “a reminder of how far we have to go.”
Sen. Cory McCray, D-Baltimore City, said he is not familiar with the study but believes its “findings are encouraging.” He said increased diversity in the Maryland General Assembly is emblematic of racial progress in the state.
“The additions of Delegates Shaneka Henson [D-Anne Arundel] and Carl Jackson [D-Baltimore County] are examples of how Maryland is changing its representation in the halls of power. This is what it looks like when diverse voices have a seat at the table. Right now the Maryland General Assembly is the most diverse in terms of race and gender it has ever been. And with new and diverse lawmakers and a historic change in Maryland leadership with Speaker Adrienne Jones — I think we’ll start to see even greater success in closing the socioeconomic gaps that still exist within our communities.”
Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University, said he believes there are flaws in the study.
“The WalletHub personal finance website has provided information that they claim represents ‘racial progress,’ and that is misleading at best. To focus on ‘gaps’ of economic achievement ignores the causes of said gaps. Maryland makes no effort to ensure the stability of families and the high percentage of single-parent families in the state, both black and white. To that extent, one could say that there are smaller gaps in integration and racial progress in general.
“The main weakness of the WalletHub study, like most studies of its type, is that it focuses on outcomes, a highly dubious measure of racial fairness. A better study would focus on opportunity, irrespective of the relative outcome. Outcomes can be made more equal independently of the fairness of opportunity.”
However, Vatz said Maryland is likely more racially equitable than other states.
“That said, it is never bad to infer that Maryland ranks highly on any racial fairness measure, regardless of how valid or invalid it is. Just from an intuitive level, one can see that there is not a great racial disparity in political leadership, nor is there racial prejudice in state financial allocations or in the state in general.”
Former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, said the “relative wealth of the state likely helps,” referring to its high ranking in the study.
TheWalletHub study was featured in a Jan. 14 article. It only compares disparities between whites and African Americans. WalletHub based its results on four criteria: employment and wealth; education; social and civil engagement; and health. In all, 21 metrics were used in the study and assigned various weights. The measurement scale is from 1-100. WalletHub used data collected from several federal agencies including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WalletHub also spoke with four public policy analysts and asked five questions related to the reasoning for the results found in the study.