JCCI study finds racial gap narrowing

Community policy study group identifies several red flags

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - About half of both whites and blacks believe that racism is a problem in Jacksonville -- the first time in the 27 years Jacksonville Community Council Inc. has asked the question that the percentage of both races was about the same.

In all previous years, blacks perceived racism to be bigger problem than whites.

"Fortunately, this report provides encouragement for those committed to improving lives," the summary of the annual Race Relations Progress Report says. "For example, rates of delinquent youth are decreasing amongst all races, with rates among blacks decreasing more rapidly than rates among whites or Hispanics."

The 2012 report did identify several red flags.

There is a disparity on the number of black students who graduate high school in time -- 73 percent of white students vs. 62 percent of black students -- but the gap is growing smaller.

A related concern is that the rate of blacks 25 years and older who've earned a college degree was about half the white rate.

JCCI also found the unemployment rate for blacks was 54 percent higher than it is for whites in 2011 -- the highest in eight years. The unemployment rate for Hispanics was 28 percent higher than whites.

"I am somewhat surprised that it is over 20 percent for African-Americans," said Julia Henry-Wilson who directs community training and unemployment services for the Jacksonville Urban League. "And it just goes to show that there's a lot of work that needs to be done."

DOCUMENT: Full JCCI 2012 Race Relations Progress Report

Vilma Consuegra, chairwoman of JCCI's review committee, said the issues of education and unemployment must be tackled together.

"You really need that stable employment to facilitate education to facilitate higher education, all which can lead to a higher quality of life," Consuegra said.

The report also found the mortality rate among black infants in 2011 was 12.8 per thousand -- more than four times the 2.8 rate for whites and similar to the infant mortality rate in Libya. According to Florida Department of Health statistics, the death rate for Hispanic infants was 5.5 per thousand.

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