Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

JCCI Releases 3rd Race Relations Indicators Report

At the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI) released its third Race Relations Progress Report, a series of community indicators measuring racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of life of Jacksonville.

Community indicators reports, in their aggregations, sometimes miss the real story in the community -- if the quality of life is measurably different for different people in the community, the averages can be meaningless or misleading.

This is the third annual report card on racial disparities that JCCI has released. Take a look. I've added some of the local comments on the report for you to read.

Columnist Ron Littlepage writes:

When I was a youngster, blacks couldn't drink from the same water fountains I did. That separation held true for public restrooms, and I've never forgotten the pain and embarrassment of being refused service at a restaurant when accompanied by a black friend. I was reared in the Bible Belt, but the Bible's teachings certainly weren't being followed.

With the optimism of youth, I saw a better society in the future, one where race didn't determine relationships. And there have been positive changes. The "whites only" and "for coloreds" signs are gone. Blacks have made gains in the business and political worlds.

But now as I approach 60, it's clear that my generation has failed just as past generations had when it comes to race. That was evident last week when the Jacksonville Community Council Inc. released its annual report on the progress of race relations in Jacksonville.

"All indicators demonstrate unacceptable disparities between white and black residents," the report concludes. Those disparities are in education, employment and income, neighborhoods and housing, health, the legal system, and political and civic engagement.

Blogger (and strong community activist) Tony Allegretti added:

... JCCI's Race Relations Progress Report. This is the single most depressing report I have ever read. Grab it (and all their other work) here. If you don't have time, let me read you the only bold sentence in the Executive Summary: All indicators demonstrate unacceptable disparities between white and black residents. That will make cold eggs seem colder.

The editorial page of the local paper commented on the report:
As we honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the greatest American of his generation in helping this country fulfill its promise of "one nation, under God," we search for a guidepost.

Jacksonville Community Council Inc. provides an annual guide with its Race Relations Progress Report. It was released recently at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast.

Bill Bond, who led the JCCI review committee, told the roughly 2,000 people at breakfast that the city's murder rate is "appalling." And he said we should "cry ourselves to sleep" over the high infant mortality rate. How true.

Yet, he said, we are a "city of courage" that has been willing to take bold steps.

In a news article about the report,

Compiling a race relations report, which was one of the recommendations of the 2002 JCCI study "Beyond the Talk: Improving Race Relations," is something the JCCI has done for the past three years. [Commiteee Chair Bill] Bond said the most positive aspect of the report is that the JCCI still is committed to taking an annual look at the issue.

"At least we're talking about these things," [NAACP President Isaiah] Rumlin agreed. "Twenty years ago, we weren't doing that."


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