Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation stand in solidarity with protests calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others, and demanding change to the continued realities of structural racism, oppression, and violence against Black Americans across our nation and in our backyard.
Right here in Lawrenceville, we see these disparities reflected in our neighborhood’s legacy as a redlined neighborhood and through ongoing displacement that disproportionately affects our Black neighbors. We see racial disparities in our public schools, where the large opportunity gap results in an achievement gap that persists at over 30 points, and where Black girls are referred to police more often than 99% of similar cities. We see it in our criminal justice system, where nearly 84% of youth who are arrested are Black, despite only accounting for 25% of the City’s population.
Our local economy is riddled with these same racial disparities. While Black men in Pittsburgh attain higher levels of education than those in 60% of comparable cities, the concentration of Black men in lower paying jobs is higher in Pittsburgh than 99% of other cities. Given the gap between White and Black employment rates, Pittsburgh’s low Black employment is not due to the local economy, but the failure and refusal of local employers to hire Black workers seeking jobs. The Pittsburgh Metro Area has one of the lowest rates of black homeownership in the country, evidence of Black applicants for all types of loans being rejected at more than double the rate of White applicants. And most recently, it was estimated that 90% of businesses of color stood no chance at all of receiving funds from the Small Business Administration to support business operations in the wake of COVID-19.
We can’t call ourselves an inclusive or safe neighborhood while these realities persist for our Black and Brown neighbors.
These inequities are systemic, and we all have responsibility in addressing them. At LU, we’ll continue to strive to live up to our mission of improving quality of life for all, while championing equity and inclusion as core values of our organization and our community. Some of the ways we’re continuing to address these issues include: advocating for housing and education justice, working to address disparities in public safety by co-facilitating implicit bias and bystander intervention trainings, providing full scholarships to vendors representing Black and other underrepresented identities at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market, budgeting funds in 2020 for anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings for our organization and the community, and recently changing our by-laws to allow former residents–including those who have been displaced–to be able to vote and run for our Board of Directors. At LC, we are also investing in training for our organization and working to build organizational leadership and committees that are more inclusive and diverse, while also developing new programs focused on protecting and supporting minority and women owned businesses and entrepreneurs. We are committed to advancing fairness, justice, and equity through our work and will demand dignity, respect, and opportunity for all from all community planning and development projects.
We recognize there is more work to do, and as ever, we invite your input on how we’re doing and how we can do better.
In a spirit of unity and urgency, we’re encouraging residents and other stakeholders who are able to make a contribution to local Black-led organizations that are on the front lines of racial justice in Pittsburgh. This week, we’re encouraging our neighbors to give to 1Hood Media, “a collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art to raise awareness about social justice matters,” providing platforms for youth to tell their own stories and inspiring the activists of tomorrow. You can donate to their organization here, or by stopping by the “Info Booth” at Opening Day at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market (Tuesday, June 2nd from 4-7 p.m. at Arsenal Park).