PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new dashboard illustrates the socioeconomic status of Oregon’s Black population.
The Oregon Black Prosperity Dashboard, launched by the Black Business Association of Oregon and community partners, went on November 2.
According to the senior policy advisor of ECONorthwest, the research firm that developed the dashboard, the data will help contextualize the story of Black Oregonians — a perspective that isn’t always considered in statewide reports.
The dashboard focuses on five categories: population, health, educational achievement, economic well-being and the presence of Black-owned businesses.
From 2017 to 2021, the data shows that just 1.8% of Oregonians were Black, placing Oregon within the 10 U.S. states with the lowest Black population.
Neighboring states such as Idaho, Washington and California recorded 0.6%, 3.7% and 5.4%, respectively.
BBAO connected this lack of representation to Oregon’s longstanding history of excluding Black residents.
According to the Oregon Historical Society, certain exclusion laws from the 1800s deterred Black Americans from settling in the state by prohibiting them from owning real estate or threatening them with public whippings.
Despite these origins, Oregon’s Black population grew over the years with the addition of World War II jobs and thanks to organizations like the Black United Front and Portland National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Still, BBAO says Oregon’s racist history has ramifications for modern-day residents.
The organization’s dashboard reveals that one in five Black Oregonians currently lives in poverty, and the median income for Black households is just 66% of what’s recorded for white counterparts.
The data also shows that the life expectancy for Black residents is almost three years shorter than for white residents, and homicide rates are more than five times as high.
BBAO’s dashboard is just one objective of the organization’s Black Economic Prosperity Agenda, a long-term plan to bolster financial equity for Black residents, businesses and organizations across the state.
“As the BBAO moves forward with developing our strategic plan, we look forward to using the data from this tool to report on the progress of our work and providing information for decision-makers, stakeholders and the public to consider as we all work together to bring prosperity to Oregon’s Black businesses and residents,” Executive Director Lance Randall said in a statement.