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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cleveland Crowned BET's 'Worst City' For Blacks

CLEVELAND (TDB) -- 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," 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," 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.) 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.


  1. I live in Cleveland Heights, an eastern suburb of Cleveland. I absolutely love this area. There is a tremendous cultural community that is active and diverse; the housing prices are very affordable; the values this area encompasses--tolerance, pride in heritage, the importance of family--are second to none.

    This is also a beautiful area of the country. There are lots of green spaces, Lake Erie, interesting architecture, lush fall colors and lots of hidden geological treasures.

    There is a large black middle- upper-middle class here that is educated and sophisticated. Columbus, in contrast, is provincial. I believe that's because we have such an influx of intellectuals via the large numbers of colleges and universities. The faculties at these institutions tend to come from the east coast and have ivy league educations. That only adds to the atmosphere of tolerance here for all kinds of people.

    It is a shame that chose to look at so many issues that have little to do with the real quality of life here. There are lots of opportunities for blacks here. One of the problems is that a lot of people chose, at a very young age, not to take advantage of the education that was offered. That has adversely influenced the rest of their lives. It is a lot harder to go to college when you're 38 than it is when you're 18. And make no mistake, everyone needs an education.

  2. Hi Tamara!!!

    I am a fan of the Cleveland area. But I do think it has hit a very rough patch, economically and perception-wise. There are many fine colleges in the area -- but Columbus has OSU and the state government to offer jobs, opportunity, a less provincial feel. I think BET pointed out some of Cleveland's problems, and I think they were sincere, not taking a cheap shot. As for your points about education -- amen. And Cleveland Heights -- amen.