The best city for Black women to live based on education, economics and other related measures is the Washington, D.C. area, with Baltimore following a close second. But when you factor in overall health and wellbeing, the best cities for Black women are in the South, with North Carolina outranking all states for livability.
The worse cities for Black women are cities in the Midwest and Pittsburgh, which is in the North but has many characteristics in common with the Midwest, according to a study by CityLab, a media company that does original reporting and in-depth analysis. This particular report was prompted by an analysis that the city of Pittsburgh did last September, where it found that Pittsburgh was the worst in the country for Black women to live in almost every metric.
As a result of the Pittsburgh study, CityLab sought to answer the question what is the most livable city for Black women and what cities ranked as the worse. The company partnered with a lead researcher from the Pittsburgh disparity report to conduct a similar analysis and came up with a mixed bag of results. CityLab also worked with urban sociologist, Junia Howell, to study the 42 largest metropolitan areas that had more than 100,000 Black women residents to determine how each of those areas ranked on a livability index. The index measured inequities for Black women in terms of income status, health conditions, and educational achievements, and then took the average values across those three categories and formed a ranking that listed the best overall outcomes.
Essentially, some cities like D.C. and Baltimore scored high on economic prosperity, in part because of the public sector jobs, which ranked as the second largest employer of Black women in the study, The DMV also is home to numerous corporations, multiple universities and hospitals. But Baltimore scored lower than the median in the category of health outcomes, largely because of its high maternal and infant mortality rates, and for high rates of cancer, domestic violence, police violence, and poverty, according to CityLab.
North Carolina’s Raleigh, Greensboro-High Point and Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metropolitan area ranked highest among the top metros for overall outcomes and livability for Black women. This area was high for private sector jobs, higher education (North Carolina boasts 12 historically black colleges and universities), and health conditions.
However Sherrell Dorsey, a Black woman entrepreneur who founded BLKTECHCLT, a tech hub for minority innovators in Charlotte, said she has lived and worked in several of the 42 metropolitan areas and warned that rankings like this are incomplete because they don’t measure Black women’s lack of access to capital.
“At BLKTECHCLT, we serve a bevy of Black women technologists and entrepreneurs who fight daily for visibility, access, and scalability,” Dorsey said, according to CityLab. “Some have entered business ownership as a means to escape harsh discrimination and psychological warfare in the corporate environment.”
Midwest regions such as Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis all ranked below the median in education and health. Pittsburgh and Cleveland were both at the bottom of the rankings in all of the categories.