America isn’t an easy country, but it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. In fact, quite a few of us are doing pretty awesome despite a little problem like “institutionalized racism.” Why are many African Americans doing better? It could come down to one word: Location. Below is a list of the five best states for black people:
Hawaii has a lot of things going for it. It’s a gorgeous tropical paradise. It’s also the home state of President Barack Obama, and once you look at its statistics on race, you can see why Hawaii was the first state to produce the nation’s first black president.
The most racially diverse state in the union, Hawaii is ranked by the Ann E. Casey Foundation as the best state for raising black children. The foundation based its ranking on a statistical study of socioeconomic status, access to education and home life.
Hawaii’s incarceration rate for black people is astronomically lower than the national average. With Wisconsin—one of the worst states for black Americans—locking up African Americans to the tune of 4,416 for every 100,000 black people, Hawaii is much more proportional, imprisoning 851 for every 100,000 black Hawaiians (pdf). The national average for black imprisonment is 2,290 per 100,000. No wonder the president, who’s written about some youthful indiscretions involving pot, managed to toke it and not end up with a record, unlike so many other young black men throughout the United States. Obama grew up in the right state at the right time. Also, black people in Hawaii? They’re not broke. The state has the highest black household income at $66,629.
We go from the tropics to the tundra: Alaska is a surprising place to find that you may fare better than most. Up in the frozen north, black Americans boast average earnings of $51,780 per year, and the state of winter wonderlands is also the fourth-best place to raise a black child, according to the Casey Foundation study.
The state with the fourth-highest number of African Americans with bachelor’s degrees or higher also has sun, surf and Hollywood. California also holds the title as the second-most-diverse state in the U.S.
Maryland boasts the country’s highest rates of black homeownership and of blacks holding advanced degrees. Twenty-six percent of black Marylanders have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Blacks in Maryland also make a lot more money than black people in other states (the average income is $57,907) and live in some of the wealthiest black communities in the country—including Friendly, Bowie, Fort Washington, Mitchellville and Kettering—where the median income is between $89,500 and $110,000. It has the fifth-highest graduation rate for black high schoolers and ranks as the sixth-best place to raise your black child.