One City, Two Realities
Zoom in on a snapshot of a city on the rise. You'll see a city home to more Fortune 500 headquarters per capita than New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago. A city regularly listed as a top destination for economic potential, young professionals, arts organizations and innovation hubs. A city rich in intellectual capital with an abundance of universities, healthcare organizations and a steady influx of talent.
Welcome to the bright side of Cincinnati and the region it supports, a place where record-breaking chicken dances draw millions, and professional sports teams put the skyline on prime time every season.
Now, cut to another snapshot of that same city, but from a very different angle. Among the highest child poverty rates per capita in the nation, with four out of every 10 children fighting to escape a low-income trap that statisticians give them a 5 percent chance of leaving behind.
This is also Cincinnati, a place where African-American children are three times more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts. A place where more children over time are living in more segregated neighborhoods. A place where racial wage gaps are the highest among the most educated, with white workers with college degrees earn an average of $5 more per hour than their equally educated black peers.
We Rise Together
We know two things.
One: The first snapshot, that city on the rise, won’t keep rising. It can’t continue, not sustain its trajectory under the weight of the second snapshot.
Two: As great as that first snapshot seems, it would be crisper, clearer, brighter and richer if its people took real action to harness the energy and talents of all of its residents, to have difficult conversations and bridge real divides, to find common ground, and to rise together in pursuit of equity.
Equity is not just about fairness and social justice. Equity drives economic growth—smart and sustainable growth. Equity is about working together, honestly and openly, to create a new, single snapshot of a city where everyone has a spot to fill and an active role to play.
The experts at PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, say the story of Cincinnati is familiar. They see similar stunning inequities threatening breakthrough cities all across the country. Equity—or the just and fair inclusion in a society that allows all to participate, prosper and reach their full potential—takes work. Equity entails directly confronting and countering systemic barriers and institutional exclusions that hold people back, no matter their backgrounds.
Embracing equity means embracing the idea that a person’s life chances aren’t determined by race, ethnicity, gender, nativity, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, zip code or family income.
Cincinnati, we are ready to pave the road to equity. We’re confident we can get there. But we need your help. And we need you to go all-in.