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"Huge gap" in racial parity for Charleston County's black & white residents, CofC finds

(File, WCIV)

A new report highlights some startling statistics regarding disparities between black and white residents in Charleston County. On Monday, the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center released their report titled The State of Racial Disparities in Charleston County, South Carolina 2000-2015.

The report highlights several areas of disparity including education, employment, housing and gentrification, business enterprises, policing and public health. It’s years of data put together by researcher Stacy Patton, PhD.

There was a huge gap between black and white residents a half a century ago and it’s still here today,” Patton said to those attending Monday’s luncheon. “What this report does is confirm a lot of what African-Americans for generations have been feeling and experiencing and we can’t argue with the data.”

One such finding shows 71-percent of teachers in the CCSD are white women, compared to 13-percent who are black women. Disparities also exist within civil servant positions at the Charleston Police Department. Out of the 400 sworn officers, only 83 are officers of color.

“Even the number of (black) children, the ages of some children, some as young as seven-years-old being arrested in school was jarring for us,” said Dr. Patricia Williams-Lessane, executive director of the Avery Research Center and commissioner of the report. “I really want you all to look at the numbers and look at them using a racial equity lens. Does this make sense to you? What does this mean? Is this fair?”

The report also shows:

  • Black people in Charleston County earn 60% of what their white counterparts make.
  • 56% of the black population has low or no access to healthy foods.
  • 42% of black children under age 18 are living below the poverty line, compared to 11% of white children.
  • Black students in the county graduate high school at a rate of 75% while white students graduate at a rate of 91%.
  • During 2014-15 school year, K-12 suspensions in the Charleston County School District totaled 8,018; black students were 6,636 (83%) of those suspensions.

Williams-Lessane said they hope the report will inspire and spur real change in the county and the City of Charleston.

“It’s clear, it’s concise and that there are actual bench marks that we can look at over the next couple of years to see if the county agencies, if the city agencies or the school district are actually heeding what this report reflects,” said Williams-Lessane.

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