ST. PAUL -- After releasing a report that shows the Twin Cities ranks 92nd out of 100 metros for racial equity, the NAACP is pushing government officials to take action.

At a press conference Saturday, Dec. 7, NAACP leaders from the national and local level advocated for action in the upcoming state legislative session to help address racial disparities in the state. Leaders also detailed a push for members of local NAACP chapters to reach out to local police, organizations and city council officials to talk about these disparities and ways to address them through policy change.

With the announcement earlier this week of a state budget surplus of $1.3 billion, advocates are pushing for some of the money to be used to help support the black community and implement some of the group’s recommendations.

Here are some of the key areas where the report, “The Twin Cities Economic Inclusion Plan,” found racial disparities exist and some of the NAACP’s recommendations for improving resources for people of color in Minnesota and the Twin Cities:

Education

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The report outlines details for grant and tax credit bond programs to help high-poverty schools with facilities that need improvements.

In the report, it shows that the percent of white students in Minnesota who obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher is almost twice as high as the percentage of their black peers. To help address this disparity, the NAACP recommends ways in their report to make college more affordable to people of lower socioeconomic status, expanded eligibility and an increase in funding for Federal Pell Grants and also repeal a law that disallows students convicted of minor drug offenses from receiving financial aid.

Employment and income

The median household income for black residents in the Twin Cities is about half of the median household income for their white neighbors, according to the report.

To address these disparities, the NAACP report recommends implementing a fair livable federal minimum wage and paid sick leave.

In 2017, the unemployment rate for black residents in the Twin Cities was more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for white residents, according to the report.

The organization is calling for legislation that focuses on offering more jobs to people in the African American community and more resources to help people who are unemployed.

Criminal justice reform

The report also shows that incarceration rates are almost 11 times higher for black residents than for white residents and offers recommendations such as time caps on probation sentencing, more educational opportunities for inmates and establishing independent review boards to examine law enforcement activity to reduce the gap. They also provide recommendations for legislation to help reduce racial profiling.

Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said while Minnesota has lower incarceration rates, the high rates of people on probation needs to be addressed.

The report also shows that incarceration rates are almost 11 times higher for black residents than for white residents and offers recommendations such as time caps on probation sentencing and establishing independent review boards to examine law enforcement activity to reduce the gap.

The racial disparities highlighted in the recently released report are not new, according to Marvin Owens Jr., senior director for NAACP economic programs.

He said the tremendous racial disparities in the state and lack of access to resources for black residents are all under the guise of Minnesota being considered a progressive place to live.

“Minnesota is one of the best places to live in the country for white people,” Owens said. “For black people, the story is completely different.”

Owens said the report and its recommendations are intended to be a road map for lawmakers and community members to work on addressing the disparities.

“With a budget surplus in the state, there is no excuse for not being able to address these issues,” he said.

While advocates acknowledge money is needed to help bring about change, they say pressure on the political wheel is how things will get done. Local NAACP leaders said they have been meeting with Walz to talk about how to enact change and will continue work like this going into the upcoming legislative session.

“We have to put pressure on people to make changes and rise up and support the black community,” said St. Paul NAACP President Farhio Khalif.