Money’s Whitest, er, Best Places to Live

Money recently released its annual list of the “Best Places to Live,” a storied set of the “50 best towns in the country — places with great jobs, strong economies, affordable homes, excellent schools, and that special something…” That special something, you ask? A disproportionate amount of white people.

The cover photo for Money’s list depicts a black family on a dock at a lake near Apex, North Carolina, as if this family were somehow representative of the families found in these supposed “best” places. Yet, a closer look reveals a different narrative.

Below is a chart showing the demographics of Money’s Best Places and the U.S. as a whole. As you can see, whites and Asians are over-represented in Money’s list, whereas blacks and Hispanics are significantly under-represented, by nearly 2.5 times in both cases. Overall, the “best” places are just 5% black, even though blacks constitute 13% of the total U.S. population. So, according to Money, the best places to live are suburbs where rich white people who boat on lakes hardly ever cross paths with black families, if at all.

As an example, consider the whitest town on the list, McCandless, Pennsylvania, which is 94% white and 1% black. McCandless is a quaint suburb just north of Pittsburgh, which is 66% white and more than a quarter black. Or take the #1 town on the list, Apex, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh that is three-quarters white and just 8% black. By contrast, Raleigh is 58% white and 30% black. Last year, the highest ranked city on the Best Places to Live was McKinney, Texas, the infamous home of that white police officer who recently assaulted a group of black teenagers at a pool party. So, if you want to live in a great place, be rich and white and get as far away as possible from all those poor black people in the inner city. If that doesn’t work, just use institutional racism to preserve the whiteness of your community.

We can probably all agree that the most desirable places to live would be characterized by high income, good schools, and low crime rates. Money’s list is yet another reminder that black people continue to be excluded from such places. Moreover, the list is an implicit celebration of this ongoing segregation and discrimination, still another drip in the subtle and continuous Chinese water torture that is modern racism. Money’s message seems to be that, when it comes to America’s best places to live and work, black people just aren’t welcome.

What does it say about our society that the best places to live, as designated by a mainstream media outlet, are actually just the whitest places? Surely, we can do better, we must do better. When Money updates its list next year, let’s hope they keep in mind that black lives matter too.

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