Study Shows LA Blacks Lagging

Nearly 40 years after the Watts riots devastated South Los Angeles, a new study finds that the city's blacks still trail whites in education, housing, health care and income.

The study, released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Urban League and United Way, found that the city's blacks are 10 times more likely than whites to be murdered, 35 percent less likely to graduate from high school in four years and have a household income that trails that of white families' by some 40 percent.

The riots in Watts raged across 50 square miles of south Los Angeles for six days in August 1965, killing 34 people and injuring more than 1,000.

The report also found, however, that blacks are registered to vote in greater numbers than other racial groups, make up 14 percent of elected officials and are well represented in unions. Ninety-four percent of black children have health insurance and 63 percent of black 3- and 4-year-olds attend preschool.

Still, statistics showing that black and Latino drivers are searched by the LAPD four times more often than whites or Asians indicate much more needs to be done to foster racial equality, city leaders said.

"Some people are suffering from the illusion that all is well in the African-American community," John Mack, former president of the Urban League, said at a Wednesday summit of 600 city leaders. "It's important for the city of Los Angeles and its leaders to understand and recognize the challenge confronting African-Americans is not being solved."

The State of Black Los Angeles report, compiled with U.S. Census, state and county data, includes recommendations for creating jobs, developing affordable housing, expanding parks and establishing prison programs geared to re-entry into society.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the racial inequalities revealed in the report "should put a chill in our spine." He described the findings a call to action and said new housing, jobs and education initiatives should be targeted first at poor South Los Angeles neighborhoods.

The study also reported the city's blacks have a median household income of $31,905, compared with $53,978 for whites. In addition, Blacks are the target of 56 percent of hate crimes and receive only 5 percent of all home loans, half as many as their share of the population. Whites receive 72 percent of all such loans, it said.