Friday, January 13, 2012
Virginia Tech has just released a study of casual users of Washington, DC's bike share system, and the numbers on African American usage are startlingly low.
The study, based on 400 surveys of those who buy either 24-hour or 5-day passes, shows that just 5 percent of such users are "black/African American."
Caucasians represent 78 percent of casual users.
That contrasts starkly with the population of the District, which is 50 percent black, and 34 percent white.
(Hispanic use is also low, but the Hispanic population of DC is only 9 percent.)
Ralph Buehler, the VT Assistant Professor who oversaw the study, cautioned that their sample only looked at casual users. "Many of those users are tourists," Buehler said. "It's not surprising that would be more heavily white than the population of DC."
But Capital Bikeshare's own numbers for annual membership look even worse. According to CaBi data from 2010, cited in the report, just two percent of annual members are black.
Chris Holben, DC's Bikesharing Project Manager, tells us more recent data shows an increase. African American participation doubled by the end of 2011 -- but it's still only at four percent.
Ralph Buehler ran the numbers for us, and as it happens, participation in bike share is lower than general cycling rates for African Americans. According to the American Community survey, 12 percent of the population is African American, and 11 percent of the people who bike to work are African American.
Holben says DDOT is working to address the problem. One barrier to entry, he says, is the need to have a credit card to join the system. DDOT is participating in a "Bank on DC" program to get bank cards to the "unbanked," a population that typically tends to be more black than the general population. DC is running a promotion to offer discount Capital Bikeshare memberships ($50 instead of $75) with the bank cards, and is looking into ways to create a monthly payment plan to make it even easier to join.
Holben also suggests that geography may play a role. The heavily African American neighborhood of Anacostia is separated from the rest of DC by a long bridge, it's more hilly than other parts of DC, and highways further serve to cut off bike access.
Buehler adds: "There is a relative lack of bicycle infrastructure in the neighborhoods East of the Anacostia River (in Wards 8 and 7; the neighborhood of Anacostia is actually only a small part of that area). Moreover population density is lower there than in downtown"
DDOT says it plans more outreach in African American neighborhoods as the weather warms up.
But the question remains: why do so few African Americans use DC's bike share?
Thursday, January 05, 2012
Like the Iowa caucuses before it, the relevance of New Hampshire's primary has been questioned because of the state's 94 percent white population. Major demographic changes are taking place across the country, increasing diversity in regions that have not traditionally been destinations for Latino immigrants, as well as the shift of affluent, northern-born African-Americans to the south. The Takeaway takes a look at what issues are important to these voters in the 2012 election and beyond.
Monday, January 02, 2012
The narrative of African Americans "passing" into white culture has long persisted. These stories are often tragic and filled with shame, secrecy, and the abandonment of home and family. In his new book, "The Invisible Line," Daniel Sharfstein looks at three families that were once identified as black and are now viewed as white. These stories are ones of pride as white families reconnect with their African-American roots.
Monday, December 26, 2011
One of the most difficult conversations we can have in our society has to do with race. In some ways the conversation is complicated by recent milestone events in racial equality like the election of President Barack Obama. But Jay Smooth says that milestones like that are exactly the reason why we need to think and communicate more effectively about race as such milestones can obfuscate the real inequalities that still remain in our society.
Friday, December 16, 2011
According to the U.S. Census figures from 2010, one in four African-Americans live in poverty. Less than one in five has a college degree. The question of how to help the community be upwardly mobile has been debated for decades, and it was on the mind of commentator Gene Marks when he wrote a recent commentary for Forbes called "If I Were a Poor Black Kid." "If I was a poor black kid I would get technical. I would learn software," Marks wrote. "I would learn how to write code. I would seek out courses in my high school that teaches these skills or figure out where to learn more online. I would study on my own. I would make sure my writing and communication skills stay polished." Gene Marks is neither black, nor poor, and some people wondered why he would be giving advice to those who are.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
A Pew Research Center report released Wednesday shows 51 percent of all adults in the United States are now married — a record low. In 2010, a survey also conducted by Pew found that four in ten Americans thought marriage had become obsolete, but found that most people who had never married (61 percent) would like to do so someday.
Monday, December 12, 2011
The uneasy embrace of slavery in colonial America produced an economic boom, rendered the founder's debates over freedom from kings and despots questionable distortions of truth and logic, slavery enshrined rascism in the U.S. Constitution and made the Civil War inevitable. The War itself created an identity for the United States from which there was no escape, even though it seems from time to time that the Civil War blinks out in relevance. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates says this narrative has to change. In a piece in this month's Atlantic, Coates says more black Americans need to study the war and their role in it in order to understand their place in history.
Friday, November 18, 2011
For many Americans, keeping a foothold in the middle class is very difficult. A recent report by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that a third of Americans who are born in the middle class lose their middle class status as adults. Another Pew study notes that African Americans experience the most downward mobility — almost half of children born to middle income African American families fall to the bottom of the income ladder as adults.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The NFL has in place a regulation called the Rooney Rule, which demands that every team must interview a minority candidate if a coaching or general manger's position is open. Many would like to see that rule in place in other venues. Robert Johnson, founder of BET, proposed on The Takeaway that if corporate America installed the Rooney Rule, it would "change the number of African Americans employed in higher echelons of corporate America."
Monday, October 17, 2011
The national unemployment level continues to hover around 9 percent. But among African-Americans, that number shoots up to about 16 percent. On Friday’s program The Takeaway spoke with Robert Johnson, founder of BET and CEO or RLJ Companies. Johnson, who was the first African-American to become a billionaire, has a new idea for how to get black Americans out of poverty.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The financial crisis has hit just about every corner of the economy but it has been disproportionately harmful to African-Americans. The unemployment rate among black Americans stands at 16 percent. That's nearly 7 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate of the population as a whole.
Monday, September 26, 2011
President Obama's approval ratings are at an all-time low. August's Gallup poll numbers showed that 41 percent of American adults approve of the way Obama is currently handling his job. Some of the largest declines in approval come from African-American voters — a group that formerly voted for Obama.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
In a new book, Professor Michael Eric Dyson explains how he described Barack Obama's attitude toward African-American identity during the 2008 election. "[W]hat I've noticed is that he's proud of his race, but that doesn't capture the range of his identity. He's rooted in, but not restricted by, his blackness." A new book, "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?", examines that concept, and the complicated identity of the 40 million African-Americans in the U.S. today.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Throughout the course of American history, a lot has been said about marriage in the African-American community. From scientific racism to the Moynihan Report to Tyler Perry, the way we discuss marriage in black America can be difficult and often controversial. The marriage rate has declined for all Americans over the past forty years, but it’s declined much faster in the black community. Why is this?
Friday, August 26, 2011
Historically black colleges and universities were established prior to the establishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made previously established "separate but equal" racial segregation laws null. The schools were intended to provide higher education to the black community, at a time when black students weren't permitted to attend many institutions. Today, 105 historically black colleges and universities still exist in America, but many of them are now actively looking to enroll non-black students. Why is this? And how will this initiative change historically black colleges?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The film adaptation of “The Help” has been out since last week, and reviews are mixed. Some say the film depicts the lives of African-American domestic workers with too much levity. Discussions abound about the movie's treatment of the sensitive relationship between white women and black domestic servants — many of them negative.
Monday, August 15, 2011
When Barack Obama was elected into office three years ago, a popular sentiment began to take America by hold: that America had matured into a post-racial society. But not everyone agrees with that thought.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
These days, almost every computer and cell phone has software to download or record and save our favorite songs. Of course, it wasn’t always so simple. Thomas Edison created the first phonograph in 1877, an invention that recorded sound on tinfoil-covered cylinders. But many of the recordings from Edison's day were lost to history — until the founders of Archeophone Records stepped in.
Friday, July 29, 2011
This week, we've been talking about the impact of the recession on the wealth of minority groups in America. Early in the week a new Pew Research Center report showed that Hispanics were the group hit hardest by the recession, with a 66 percent drop in personal wealth, and African-Americans saw a 53 percent decline since 2005. The public sector is the leading employer for African-American men, and the second-largest employer for African-American women — which means public sector lay-offs have disproportionately affected the black middle class. What is the solution?
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The Pew Foundation released a report this week looking at the how the recession has affected the wealth gap between different ethnic groups. The results, based on the 2009 U.S. Census, showed the gap is the largest its been in 25 years. Hispanics were the group hit hardest, with a 66 percent drop in personal wealth, and African-Americans saw a 53 percent decline since 2005. This means financial gains in these groups have been set back decades. What will these findings mean for minority voters in 2012?