HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » Think Des Moines Is Full ...

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 08:15 PM

Think Des Moines Is Full of Corn and White People? Think Again.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/next-america/population-2043/think-des-moines-is-full-corn-white-people-think-again


by Matt Vasilogambros

DES MOINES, Iowa—In an old movie theat­er on 13th Street with lead pan­els and wavy floors, in the heart of Des Moines’ black com­munity, pho­to­graphs of a lar­ger-than-life state as­sembly­man hang on the walls next to por­traits of Rosa Parks, Mal­colm X, and Big­gie and Tupac.

Ako Ab­dul-Sa­mad uses this space as the headquar­ters for his day job: CEO of Cre­at­ive Vis­ions, a hu­man-de­vel­op­ment or­gan­iz­a­tion that helps the mar­gin­al­ized Afric­an-Amer­ic­an com­munity in Iowa’s cap­it­al. “Des Moines is not bad,” says Ab­dul-Sa­mad, who was born and raised here. “The key is Des Moines is savable.”

Des Moines is a sur­pris­ing city for folks who don’t know it well. It’s been many years since it was a sleepy, over­whelm­ingly white, man­u­fac­tur­ing town in the Corn Belt. After the Vi­et­nam War ended, then-Gov. Robert Ray opened Iowa’s doors to refugees from Vi­et­nam, Cam­bod­ia, and Laos—an act that led to waves of oth­er refugees from places like Bos­nia, Su­dan, and Burma over the years. The town has a deeply rooted and suc­cess­ful Latino com­munity, which—if trends con­tin­ue—will one day be the ma­jor­ity demo­graph­ic here. The ar­rival of well-edu­cated, young pro­fes­sion­als, along with sig­ni­fic­ant in­vest­ments in the down­town area, has made Des Moines one of the fast­est-grow­ing eco­nom­ies in the coun­try.

It’s also a city with a stag­nant black com­munity that ac­counts for most of the area’s poverty.

“Down­town, there’s ser­i­ous de­vel­op­ment: awe­some. East Vil­lage: awe­some. West Des Moines: awe­some. Wau­kee, Ankeny: awe­some. The urb­an core: pathet­ic,” Ab­dul-Sa­mad says. “There’s no de­vel­op­ment in the urb­an core.”

The urb­an core just hap­pens to be where the city’s poverty and Afric­an-Amer­ic­an pop­u­la­tion are con­cen­trated. Afric­an-Amer­ic­an fam­il­ies in Des Moines on av­er­age make only 38 per­cent of what white fam­il­ies in Des Moines bring in. That works out to $29,000 in black me­di­an fam­ily in­come, com­pared with $74,000 for white fam­il­ies. This puts Des Moines near the top (27th out of 417) of U.S. met­ro­pol­it­an areas in wage dis­par­it­ies.


Don't be fooled by Iowa.

Yes, the rural/farming population is very very very white.

But Des Moines is 11% black and 12 % Latino (very close to national averages)
Davenport is 9% black/5% Latino and Waterloo is 15% black.

FTR, in the 2008 Iowa Dem Caucuses, 4% of Dem caucus participants were black and of those black participants, 72% voted for Obama.

8 replies, 1875 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to Chitown Kev (Original post)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 08:37 PM

1. When We Stand Together - No Citizen Need Settle For The Lesser Of Two Corporate Evils - Go Bernie Go

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Chitown Kev (Original post)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 08:40 PM

2. Thanks for posting this positive, uplifting piece. It's this kind of incremental change that we

need all across the whole country--one that reflects the kind of country we really are instead of the BS that is portrayed on popular media.

Love your user ID. Toni Morrison is an amazing writer. If you've ever listened to her read one of her books on audiobooks, it is totally obvious that you are listening to the voice of God

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to japple (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 08:45 PM

4. I think that I need to do some rereading of Morrison

I mean, it usually takes at least 3 reads to get the gist of what she's trying to say in any one book.

My favorite by Morrison is still Love.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Chitown Kev (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 04:26 PM

7. My favorite is Song of Solomon. I also loved Home. Listening to her read Sula

on audio book, while recovering from eye surgery, was a joyful experience, even though the book is very sad.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Chitown Kev (Original post)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 08:43 PM

3. Thanks.

I am one who thought Iowa is almost entirely white. The income disparities are really stark. I liked the quote at the end of the piece: "you have to ad­dress the worst-off in the com­munity be­fore you can cel­eb­rate the rest of it." Oh so true.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to brer cat (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 12, 2015, 08:51 PM

5. let me just say that you wouldn't believe the town I live in then

in the very heart of the corn belt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Chitown Kev (Original post)

Mon Dec 14, 2015, 02:02 PM

6. Thanks for posting this.

Here's another good article about Iowa and its changing demographics. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/iowa-isnt-the-state-presidential-candidates-pretend-it-is/

In February, Iowans will cast the first votes of the presidential nominating process, just as they have for 44 years. Over that time, reams of paper and pixels have been spent on the question of whether a racially homogenous and basically agricultural state should have such a prominent role.2 But the state is not exactly the bucolic land of yeoman farmers that candidates, critics and Iowans themselves think it is.

Iowa is whiter than the country but has grown more diverse. It houses multinational corporations and more people whose work revolves around spreadsheets than around tractors.

Some of that has to do with the march of time. Since 1972, Iowa has in many ways become less and less an outlier as farmers went broke, and African-Americans and Hispanics migrated to its cities.

More at the link.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Chitown Kev (Original post)

Tue Dec 15, 2015, 05:00 AM

8. Even my little burb Windsor Heights is 3.5% African-American

 

For a burb in this state, that's practically the UN!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread