“We’re still down here telling our friends that the south isn’t more racist, it’s just more honest.” The debate is over! Today Michael Harriot spills the tea from both sides and we’ll find out who’s really more racist: The North or the South.
You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.
Michael Harriot [00:00:05] I hear a lot of Black people, white people, people in general talk about racism. And whenever I talk about stuff that happens to me, one reply I always get is, Well, I’m so glad I don’t live in Alabama or I’m so glad I’m not from South Carolina or I’m so glad I’m not in the South. I don’t know how I could handle that. I mean, I hear people who live in other states all of the time, especially in the Northeast, offhandedly demean the south is backward, less educated and more important, more racist, as is the rest of the country has an invisible deflective sheild that eliminates white supremacy. You know, people who live outside of the South think like it’s like an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard down here. And I hate that because it imagines that the South has, like a different breed of white people. Right. But instead of reminding naysayers and detractors that it was places like Alabama and Mississippi that made it possible for Black people to vote everywhere or to attend the college of their choice or to sit wherever they wanted to on busses. I wanted to examine the data and the statistics and get to the bottom of the issue. So. I want to see really what the truth behind this myth is. And I also want to welcome you to theGrio Daily. The only podcast that can answer the question is the South more racist?
Michael Harriot [00:01:42] I’m Michael Harriot, world-famous wypipologist and this is theGrio daily. So let’s see. Right. Let’s see if the South is more racist now. You know, if you watch this podcast, you know, like I’m not just the dude who has a camera pointing at him in his momma’s basement. So I actually taught a class called race as an economic construct that examined race through the lens of economics and not just like money, but supply and demand math using data. So for this, you know, podcast, with this idea, I took an objective set of criteria and dissected the information to see if the South is more racist, right? I looked at employment, education, economics, housing, politics, all of this stuff. All of that good stuff. To see is if the South is more racist and all of the other places where people live. So determine what we’re talking about, first, we’re going to have to understand what I mean when I say the South.
Michael Harriot [00:02:51] So I use this poll that was conducted by a statistics based site, FiveThirtyEight, and I came up with a conclusive list of southern states. Those are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia. There’s a map right here because I said that kind of fast. Right. And I even actually considered Florida to be a part of the South because for always be on somebody’s shit. Right. But, you know, we’re going to go with it because, you know, the polls said it. But I also didn’t want to cut discussion to go too far in the past, so I only used data that was after 2016. So none of what we’re talking about is like from the eighties or the seventies or even like from early 2000, and it’s all from widely accepted sources. None of it came from like Breitbart or like Truth Social or Parlor or whatever. But what do white people use now, like Facebook. Facebook memes like white people Encyclopedias are basically Facebook memes now. And I also simplified the data and statistics to just compare Black people to white people.
Michael Harriot [00:04:06] So we’re not comparing like, you know. Hispanics or nonwhite Hispanics or not Hispanic whites or, you know, any other group. It’s just Black people in white. We want to see if the South treats Black people worse than every place else treats white people. And we also need to clarify what we mean by racist. Now, we got a whole podcast on that. You can look through the archives like the first one, but we’re basically using the dictionary definition of racism. Let’s get into it. We want to discuss the measurable impact of white supremacy to see if equality is quantifiably higher in the south or the north.
Michael Harriot [00:04:53] So first, we’re going to start with education. Now, there’s no doubt that the South has the worst schools. I mean, it’s full stop. We’re going to look at the difference between the Black and the white 2018 and 19 high school graduation rates, as provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s like an official site. The average education gap in each state is 13 points, right? Meaning that the graduation rates for whites are on average 13 percentage points higher than Black people who live in those states. But among those states, only Florida had a graduation rate gap below the national average. All the other states is pretty close. So even if people in, let’s say, Georgia, for instance, Black people in Georgia aren’t graduating at high rates, white people aren’t either. One third of the states with single digit gaps in graduation rates are from the south. And studies have shown that regardless of the tax base, more Black students enrolled in school, the lower the funding. Economic segregation still exists, but in the South, Black kids attend school they get about 90 to 100% of the same funding as white schools. And according to a study by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, the north east was the only region in the country with the number of segregated schools has increased since 1968. So as you can see, education rates in the South might not be great, but it’s not racist because white people are getting a bad education, too. Right.
Michael Harriot [00:06:39] Let’s go to the next statistic. Right. First of all, I want to say this right. When I say racist, I’m not talking about what they intended to be. I’m just talking about what it is. I say that because we’re coming to a very important category, employment, like if you look at employment rates, just like education, it’s not enough to simply look at the Black unemployment rate. So you’ve got to compare the Black unemployment rate in the state to the white unemployment rate in the state. So as you can see, right, like this is the map of the unemployment rate by state. But if you analyze the 2021 4th quarter data or the 2022 1st quarter data, you’ll see that the average unemployment rate in the south is very close to the average white unemployment rate. So the Black unemployment rate doesn’t have as big of a gap as the white unemployment rate. So but if you look at the rest of the country, well, honestly, you really can’t look at the rest of the country because very few states even compare the white unemployment rate to the Black unemployment rate. They don’t even separate out the data. The states in the South do. But where the states in the north or the west or the Midwest do you see that nationwide the Black unemployment rate is 2.1 times the rate of white unemployment. But in the South, the rate averaged out to about 1.05. Again, showing that in the southern states, Blacks are hired slightly more often than the national average and they earn more money. Right. So the the wage gap is lower in the southern states.
Michael Harriot [00:08:39] Now we’re going to go to criminal justice because, you know, everybody knows like you go to jail quick if you live in the south. According to a 2016 study by the Sentencing Project’s Color of Justice. Five of the 12 Southern states were above the national average in the number of Black people being incarcerated per 1000. So we’re not looking at how many Black people they incarcerated. We’re looking at the rate like one Black person per 1000 or two Black person per thousand. Well, in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky, they incarcerate a lot of Black people. However. They incarcerate a lot of white people. See, they just like to lock people up. They sustain themselves by turning their prison into an industry. But in the south, we’re going to look at the ratio, the Black to white ratio. And in the South, the ratio of incarceration between Blacks and whites is lower. For example, Kansas and Florida both have a Black and white ratio of imprisonment considerably below the national average of 5.1 to 1. So for every five Black people locked up, they lock up one white person. Yet both incarcerate Black people at higher rates. So as you can see in the south. They lock everybody up.
Michael Harriot [00:10:12] But the rate of incarceration, you can look at police killings, you can look at most of the data in the criminal justice area and it shows that like they just like locking people up. They might be backwards, but it’s not necessarily more racist than any one or any place else. Remember right, like Eric Garner lived in New York. Philando Castile was in Minnesota. Right? George Floyd was in Minnesota. Throughout the country between 2013 and 2017, police killed about 3.96 citizens per million. But in the north. They killed about 9.38 citizens per million, whereas in the south they killed about four per million. So as you can see. They kill Black people less often in the South, the criminal justice system might be incredibly harsh, but it’s not a big difference between how they treat Black people and how they treat white people. Again, we’re talking about racism.
Michael Harriot [00:11:29] Now, let’s look at politics now. Everybody knows that many Southern states have made it difficult to vote through voter I.D. restrictions and voter suppression. But does it work right? See, southern states are generally under Republican control, which would seemingly result in fewer Black elected officials. But it doesn’t. Most of the Black elected officials in Congress and in the Senate come from the South. The 52 African-American members serving in the 115th Congress, which is a couple of years ago. 22 hail from 12 southern states. And in a 2015 survey where like the National Council of State Legislatures like look at the demographics of the state legislators. Well, first of all, we’ve got to admit no state is over representative of Black people like white people control every state legislature. But there are more Black state legislators elected in the south than in the north. As a matter of fact, the gap between the population and the elected officials is less in the South. Right. And here’s the thing that people never talk about. People in the South vote in higher numbers. Like in Mississippi, Black people outvote white people. And in the South, the voter registration statistics are higher. The voter turnout statistics are high for Black people than in the rest of the country.
Michael Harriot [00:13:03] And now we’re going to get to the less subject economics. Now, it’s difficult to compare economic inequality by states because it costs more to live in New York than it does in Alabama or Georgia. Like you can buy a house for $0.87 in some parts of Mississippi, and you can buy a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn for about $70,000 million per month. So, you know, it’s hard to compare state by state, but what you can do is compare the economies or the disparities in the economies within the states. So in the South, Blacks earn about $0.66 for every white right. But in the North, Black people earn about $0.62 for every dollar. Now, that might not sound like a lot until you expand those three cents into a whole hour worth of work or a whole week’s worth of work, or a whole month’s worth of work or a whole year worth of work. Like 3% difference in salary is a lot between Blacks and whites, and that’s what it is in the north. People in the south earn closer to what white people earn and the dollar goes further. So as you can see, Black people in the South aren’t as economically deprived as Black people everywhere else. So here’s the question. Why do people think that? Well. It’s for a number of reasons. First of all, like when you watch that civil rights documentary that you see on Netflix or when you think about racism or the civil rights movement, most of what you see happened in Birmingham, in Mississippi, in South Carolina, you know, in the South, and that’s for good reason, is because that’s where Black people were standing up to fight.
Michael Harriot [00:15:12] It’s not because, like the white people down there were more racist. Right. Jim Crow started in the north and the South adapted, like after the Civil War. Like white people didn’t just want to just send Black people to the other side of the town, like white people were used to living around Black people because I mean, like the slave cabins, I don’t know if y’all noticed or like right out back. So they didn’t see the need for all white neighborhoods. This whole city of Chicago banned Black people from buying property for years. So those perceptions have fed into the current misconception that it’s worse down here. And another reason is because more Black people live in the south, so more Black people live in the south. So more Black people talk about racism and people think, well, all those Black people and all those stories I hear about racism only happened in the South. But that’s not true. It’s because you hear Black people talking about it because it’s just more Black people. And the other thing is the North is more segregated. So if you live in Chicago, if you live in New York, if you live in Boston, you don’t live around white people, you don’t go to school. The schools are more segregated, the neighborhoods are more segregated. So there is less interaction with white people because white people have engineered a Negro free society in much of the country, except in the South, where Black people have less land, where neighborhoods are constantly redrawn, where because there are so many Black people, they just can’t run away from Black people. So all of those misconceptions lead to the belief that, like everybody in the South is using it and they use the N-word in the South, believe me.
Michael Harriot [00:17:18] Any other reason is like white people in the North know how to act like they know how to hide their racism. Racism might be more open in the South, but it don’t mean like the white people in the North aren’t participating in racism. It just means that they’re not saying it out loud. As you can see, they don’t hire as many Black people as you can see. They segregate their kids from Black schools. As you can see, they engineer a society that perpetuates white supremacy without saying it out loud. And that’s not a lack of racism. That’s a lack of honesty. So, I mean, even though I hate to give racist credit, I give the Southern racists a little bit of credit for it, like just being honest. But as you can see, the data shows that white people in the South are no different. Matter of fact, they might be a little bit less racist than white people in the north. So the next time you hear somebody say, I couldn’t live down there, I wouldn’t want to be down there. You have to remember. If a fight starts, who you want to be around like two or three of your friends or your whole family? Well, in the south. There are more Black voters in the South. There are more economically advantaged Black people in the South. Black people are better educated in the South. Black people have a better chance of economic mobility than anywhere else. But, that misconception that the South is more racist is why people in places other than the South can coast on the idea that, oh, everything’s cool here, everything’s fine, we’ll have to fix anything. And in the South, we still don’t have fighting.
Michael Harriot [00:19:28] We’re still down here downloading theGrio app. We’re still down here subscribing on every platform, and we’re still telling our friends that the South being more racist, it’s just more honest. So as always, we’ll leave you with a Black saying that everybody knows welcome to the south where we knick and we are buck. Thank you for listening to the Cleo Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app, subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to the podcast at theGrio dot com. ‘.
[00:20:14] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:19] You’re watching the Blackest Questions podcast with Christina Greer. In this podcast, we ask our guests five of the Blackest questions so we can learn a little bit more about them and have some fun while we’re doing it.
Guest 1 [00:20:31] Okay, so this is a trick question.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:33] We’re also going to learn a lot about Black history, past and present.
Guest 2 [00:20:36] Beautiful. I learned a wonderful fact today. Great.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:39] So here’s how it works. We have five rounds of questions about us. Black history, the whole diaspora, current events, you name it. With each round, the questions get a little tougher.
Guest 3 [00:20:49] Oh, you got me. You got me. Let me see, let me see, let me see.
Guest 4 [00:20:52] I had no idea.
Guest 2 [00:20:54] I knew you were going to go there. Dr. Greer,.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:56] Subscribe to the show wherever you listen to your podcast and share it with everyone you know.