CLEVELAND (TDB) -- BET.com completed a research project on the best and worst Big Cities for black families and said Cleveland came out dead last among the 22 competitors. Crime, poverty, a lousy public school system and troubled job market were among factors for the terrible finish. Columbus, on the other hand, drew praise. Ohio's capital city -- once known as a cow town -- tied in the rankings with Washington, D.C., as the second best city in America for blacks. Charlotte was No. 1.
So it seems Columbus is truly urban. And poor Cleveland -- it had to fall lower than Milwaukee and Detroit to land in the cellar. Many may not agree with BET's methodology or results. But the survey adds to the national perception that Cleveland is a dismal, failing community.
"Part of a rust-belt state battered by poor manufacturing economics, the Lake Erie City has high poverty, especially among its youth. Salaries lag the nation and the unemployment picture is off the chain," BET.com said. The story went on to note the usual litany of gloom.
BET also picked up on an emerging issue -- the high cost of college in Ohio. "In-state college tuition is relatively inflated at $9,357," BET.com pointed out, implying that many poor people in Cleveland can't afford tuition that could lift the city out of its rut.
As for Charlotte, the top city, the picture was glowing. "Charlotte, a growing city nestled in the Piedmont of North Carolina, proved to be a city where black families can settle in communities of educated, well-paid African-Americans, of whom 50% own their own houses. Amenities such as pro basketball and football teams, a thriving nightlife and the nearby location or world class colleges and universities, including the historically black Johnson G. Smith University, make it a magnet for black young professionals who are enticed by the gentle climate as well as the relatively low cost of living and affordable housing prices," said BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, the media giant that owns CBS.
The best and worst cities package is HERE. A press release that was distributed nationally by BET is HERE , and it is not clear why the ratings were largely ignored today. (I did not notice any coverage.)
BET.com targets its audience and is probably the leading provider of entertainment and media for black America. In 2002, it said Columbus was the nation's top city. Diverse neighborhoods, high employment and affordable homes pushed it to first place then.