No state wears its multicultural veneer more ostentatiously than California. The Golden State’s leaders believe that they lead a progressive paradise. Others see California as deserving of nationhood; it reflects, as a New York Times columnist put it, “the shared values of our increasingly tolerant and pluralistic society.”
In response to the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans to defund the police — despite the city’s steep rise in homicides. San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants to do the same in her increasingly crime-ridden, disordered city. The state has also become a sanctuary for illegal immigrants — complete with driver’s licenses for some 1 million and free health care.
Despite these progressive intentions, Hispanics and African Americans — 45 percent of the total population — fare worse in the state than almost anywhere nationwide.
Based on US Census Bureau cost-of-living estimates, 28 percent of California’s blacks live in poverty, compared with 22 percent nationally. One-third of Latinos, the state’s largest ethnic group, live in poverty, compared with 21 percent nationally.
Since 1990, Los Angeles’s black share of the population has dropped in half. Blacks constitute barely 5 percent of San Francisco’s population, down from 13 percent four decades ago. A recent poll found that 58 percent of African Americans express interest in leaving the state; 45 percent of Asians and Latinos are also considering moving out.
These residents may appreciate California’s celebration of diversity, but they find the state increasingly inhospitable to their needs and their families’.
Joel Kotkin is the presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. Adapted from City Journal.
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