Black California Still Strong

Zaneta J Smith
Aug 12 · 3 min read

There are approximately 2 million black people living in California. The majority of those residents live in Los Angeles.

On July 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA the California Policy and Research Initiative (CalPRI) celebrated its anniversary of tracking the impact of Black Californians. In a room full of labor leaders, elected officials, staffers and community leaders, Hon. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, CalPRI’s Director, provided a snapshot of the CalPRI’s annual report.

CalPRI’s mission is to advance a better, more inclusive California on behalf of its Black residents. In the last year, CalPRI produced two surveys with the help of Evitarus, a public opinion research and public policy consulting firm. The spring survey polled 1,350 Black Voters where 42% identified as male and 58% identified as female. Regarding party affiliation 69% were Democrats, 8% Republican, 17% listed no party preference, and 6% listed other. With respect to geographic distribution, 64% of those surveyed lived in Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California, 26% resided in the Bay area, 6% in Northern California/Sacramento, and 4% in the Central Valley. The margin sampling error was +/-2.67%

Those surveyed considered it an extremely high policy priority for elected officials to reduce homelessness (60%) and eliminate racial profiling (76.5%). Four out of five surveyed considered education as an extremely high policy priority.

The fall survey polled 1,200 Black voters and uniquely asked for the ethnicity of those polled. The survey suggested that 96% identified as Black or African American, 1% of African descent, 1% Afro-latino/a, 1% Afro-Caribbean, and 1% multi-racial. On this survey, CalPRI asked questions about the upcoming U.S. Census. The survey suggested 86.8% of Black residents are likely to participate in the Census. Now that the Census can be completed online, 72.4% are more likely to complete it.

To further the impact of this data, CalPRI formed five work groups — Council of Scholars, Census, Public Opinion, Re-Entry, and Education — with the purpose of tracking the progress of Hard-to-Reach communities, providing thought leadership, following legislation on education matters, and monitoring re-entry from incarceration progress in California. These work groups are comprised of scholars, thought leaders, and practitioners.

In addition to surveys and work groups, CalPRI partnered with local organizations in Los Angeles to host multiple events related to their policy areas. Notable events included but were not limited to, the 40 Under 40 Awards recognizing rising leaders in Los Angeles County, Book Signing of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, and a State of the Union Watch Party.

As CalPRI preps for 2020, follow us as we plan to publish a legislative scorecard highlighting how legislators in Sacramento vote on key bills affecting Black residents. We will work with the California Complete Count committee to ensure Black residents complete the Census. We plan to release a survey that tracks nationwide election issues. In addition, we will continue to foster strategic partnerships, grow our work groups and carry on the work of the Agenda for California: An African-American Perspective.

Zaneta J Smith

Written by

Coordinates operations of an African American civic engagement & public opinion research organization, the California Policy & Research Initiative. calpri.org

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