A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Thompson Finn founded MyLegalEdge LLC, the legal documents business he conceived many years ago as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Mississippi. “It’s a small community with a lot of retirees. There are a lot of social he galas in the season. We get to know nice people and enjoy the lifestyle.”

Carol Thompson-Finn, corner of 5th and Park Streets, South Naples, Florida.Chris Tilley

In fact, groundbreaking new data reveal that black residents in the region are living their best lives, according to the Black Progress Index, a joint study of the Brookings Institution and the NAACP. The goal is to use data to better understand the circumstances surrounding black well-being and lives. Researchers define “black” as people (non-Hispanic) who self-identify as such in the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census.

The Black Progress Index is a publicly available interactive research tool. Of the 1,677 counties analyzed, Collier County in southwest Florida ranks high on the index, with a predicted life expectancy of 82.6 years based on social factors that support well-being and health. It’s important to note that the black population is only 7%.

This index allows users to find major cities where Black people live better in terms of longevity. Fairfax County, Virginia, which ranks first in black life expectancy, also tops the Black Progression Index with her predicted life expectancy of 82.2 years. Other counties that perform well in the index include Montgomery County, Maryland, with an expected life expectancy of 81.3 years. Middlesex County (Boston area), Massachusetts (80.6 years); Providence County, Rhode Island (78.2 years).

Major cities at the bottom of the index include the City of St. Louis (69.2 years). Baltimore (69.5 years); Milwaukee (71.1 years); Flint, Michigan (72.3 years); Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit) (71.6 years).

Researchers analyzed assets and opportunities related to quality of life based on 13 indicator components in key areas: family health, wealth, security, environmental quality, and human/social capital. The latter includes factors such as black college-going rates and friendships. A large amount of statistics was mined, including data from the US Census Bureau and Facebook.

Dr. Andre Perry, Senior Fellow at Brookings Metro, who led the effort, said: “Truth is the twin sister of justice”

Dr. Jonathan Rothwell, principal economist at Gallup Inc., worked closely with Perry. Their goal, he said, is to “emphasize strengths rather than weaknesses” in popular narratives about the black community.

Collier County has a population of about 385,000 and a median income of $70,000, but only about 7% of its residents are black. However, some indicators within the Black Progress Index are consistent with county indicators.

One example is the quality of the environment, which the research team defined as ‘low levels of air pollution and living in areas of moderate or low population density’. Experts say it’s important to get positive reviews in this regard.

“Too many Americans live in communities coping with air and water pollution and the cumulative impact on health and the environment,” said attorney and attorney at Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit EarthJustice. Staff scientist Michelle Mabson says. Separation and redlining going back decades. These zones are skewed toward communities of color and low-income communities. ”

Although Collier County’s black community is relatively small, it has a long and rich history.

In fact, South Florida’s black history begins in the late 1400s and is intertwined with the region’s indigenous people, the Native Americans. After slavery was abolished in then-Spanish Florida in 1693, the territory became a haven for fugitives. In the 1730s, the black Spanish community of St. Augustine founded a town called Fort Morse. In the 1860s, black troops served in Florida during the Civil War. In the 20th century, black labor played a key role in the logging and lumber industries and contributed to the construction of the vast Tamiami Trail.

These days, the local black community isn’t monolithic. It has both established residents and newcomers, some of whom have migrated from the Caribbean and beyond.

“If you look at your ancestry, you can tell that a lot of people here are Haitian,” says Dr. Thomas Felke, an associate professor of social services at Florida Gulf Coast University. “During the 1960s and his 70s, immigrants from Haiti moved from Miami to Collier County.”

An official of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce told Emancipator that its membership base includes “successful” Haitian-American business owners.

But while Collier County has wealthy enclaves such as Naples, Felke points out that places such as Immokalee, an agricultural center, have poorer people. Community residents include migrant farm workers from Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, and other countries, as well as service workers employed in tourism and other industries. “Affordable housing is a county issue,” he says.

Nonetheless, the index suggests that Collier County is one of the regions with a high number of foreign-born black adults and an increase in projected life expectancy.

“The interpretation is unclear,” says Perry, noting that it is “well established” that foreign-born black immigrants to the United States live longer than native-born black Americans.

Collier County also ranks high on the index in terms of black homeownership and college attendance rates, and biking and walking to work.

These factors are some of the reasons why Carol Thompson-Finn enjoys the life she and her husband have built in this community.

Donna M. Owens is an award-winning multi-platform journalist.Interviewed by a veteran reporter us congressthe White House, the election, Racegender, social justice, and culture.

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