What Is the Most Racist City in America?



The New York Time’s Freakanomic’s blog has a ongoing open poll asking readers what is the most racist city in America and why? Check it out:

On one level, quantifying racism doesn’t make much sense. From the standpoint of individual experience, two people who suffer discrimination based on their ethnic status might feel equally violated even if the incident differs. Who can say one experienced “more racism” if both feel hurt?

But let’s consider the question at the macro level. Specifically, what is the most racist town/city in America?

I thought of this question a long time ago when I lived in Boston. The city puzzled me. I knew about the strong liberal sentiment among the populace, but I didn’t have to look far to see that racism was part of its historical core. For example, school integration was violently resisted by many of its white ethnic residents. In sports, the city has been home to some of the most extreme forms of racism — check out Howard Bryant’s terrific book, Shut Out, in which he explores the longstanding bigotry in the Red Sox baseball organization. And I was surprised how openly some of the city’s African-American residents talked about experiencing racism at work, in bars, and on the streets.

Does it make sense to classify Boston on a racism index? Is it any different than other cities?

Before I share some social science thinking on the subject early next week, I turn this over to Freakonomics readers: In your opinion, what is the most racist city in America, and why?

If you care to weigh in on the discussion, click here.

My picks are as follows in no particular order:

  1. Torrance, CA
  2. Lynwood, CA
  3. Simi Valley, CA
  4. Madison, WI
  5. The entire state of South Carolina

Jasmyne A. Cannick

Jasmyne Cannick is a nationally known writer and commentator on political, race and social issues. She was selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World, one of the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40, one of Los Angeles’ Most Fascinating Angelenos by the L.A. Weekly and one of 40 People Under 40 by the Advocate. She’s worked in the U.S. House of Representatives and at all levels of government helping to shape public opinion and encourage civic engagement while advocating for underrepresented and marginalized communities in the political arena. Learn more here.

What do you think?

  • Tashenia

    I think its pretty ignorant some of you people are saying especially TSK saying black people don’t add nothing to a civilization are you nuts. Look around you black people have made everything on this earth not white people. I have nothing against white people in fact i have alot of white friends. You got alot of nerve to even write that comment. Saying no one likes negroes what the hell is this the early 1900s get over it because BLACK and HISPANICS PEOPLE ARE HERE AND WE ARE HERE TO STAY AND GETS WHAT EVERYONE MIXING TOO AND HEY MAYBE EVEN YOUR KIDS MIGHT WANT A LIL CHOCOLATE TOO IN THE FUTURE. This whole racism thing sickens you are driving people out of towns you must be crazy you are going to find the right one day and its not going to be pretty. and oh yeah i can’t stand the kkk and i cannot stand the people who support them. yeah i said and what! And your calling us minorities what!! we are the majority!! Black people are everywhere and you can never get rid of us.what you are going to lynch or shoot or something, ya’ll white people need to grow up and stop living in the past and realize this is 2011!! ya’ll racist crackers. Give it up, and move on! I love being Black and Puerto Rican! you racsit people can die for all i care!

  • Clay

    I live in Howell Michigan, I’m a white man married to a beautiful hispanic woman. We have 4 amazing kids. Is Howell racist….HELL YES IT IS!! I grew up here, my parents are from here, I heard all the rumors, but really how would I know if they are true, I’m white! All my friends are white….there isn’t any other color around here in Howell. White White White….that is all you see in this joyless – colorless town. My wife and kids are treated terrible, kids are all in catholic schools out of the area because of these low rent back woods hicks. Brain dead howell chamber of commerce president keeps spouting how howell has changed…what a bunch of bs…actually has gotten worse.

  • shakaraposted

    i am from boston and have never experienced racism there.

  • shakaraposted

    im AA btw.

  • chance hall

    Im from Shreveport Louisiana and down here racism
    is just the way things are when I was young my grandam would always make fun and dis’s blacks everyone in my family will crack a black joke here and there im grown now 27 and have black friends I mean I would call them the n word cause I wouldn’t wanna hurt there feelings but yeah I do use the n word all the time when a black pisses me off its just how things have been down here for years and they will never chqnge

  • Christine

    I’m surprised so many CA cities are on that list! Makes me think the person that made it hasn’t traveled far out of the state. I live in Simi Valley and don’t think it’s racist! I am Mexican and yes there are mostly white people here (like my husband maybe) and I have heard a few things here and there about some racist groups but to be honest I have heard there are way more in Fillmore which has more Hispanics than whites, and Palmdale which has a high black population. People were probably more racist there than here. If anyone here is racist I must just be oblivious to the idea – I have caught myself noticing that I am the only non-white in the room but when I look around it appears that I am the only one to have noticed it.