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Report on racial disparity sparks discussion about media and race

Posted at 5:25 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-11 19:05:04-05

On Monday, News 5 reported on newly-released data from the Center for Community Solutions, a Cleveland-based nonpartisan think tank that focuses on solutions to health, social and economic issues.

The conclusion? It is more challenging to be black in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County when it comes to health, economics, criminal justice, infant mortality and more.

RELATED: Data shows it's more difficult to be black than white in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County

The report — and the information — received quite a bit of attention, sparking a conversation on Facebook with hundreds of comments from viewers. Our reporting clearly touched a nerve, with some comments reading, “How about we don’t feed into media trying to divide us” or “I call BS, poor personal choices are to blame, not racism.”

Not all agreed.

Another commenter wrote, “Why do some people think it is harmful to talk about disparity?”

Cleveland City Councilman Blaine Griffin said he hopes the report is shared widely, and while much of the information in it is his lived experience, he knows that is not the case for everyone.

“The solution, first of all, is to talk about it and report it,” Griffin said.

Griffin added, “We have to confront racism. I know it makes people uncomfortable, I know it is divisive, I know people use it for divisive reasons, but we need to use it in order to promote equity and equitable policies." 

Griffin said he and city leaders are working toward more equitable policies when it comes to everything from health and wellness to workforce inclusion, transportation, and walkability in the city.

News 5 also reached out to a media expert to find if there was any way we could have done the story differently. Dr. Richard Perloff from Cleveland State University pointed out that it would have been helpful to include “why now?” — why did the report come out now, why are we telling you about it now?

The answer to that comes from Kate Warren, a research associate at the Center for Community Solutions who put together the report.

“We will keep pointing out racial disparities and inequities as long as they exist. At CCS, we’ve been doing research like this for decades, and the problems persist. We want to support policies and programs that ultimately work to reduce inequity in our region,” Warren said.

And News 5 wants to continue the conversation and the dialogue — we created "A Better Land" as a way for our viewers to reach out to us directly to tell us about their problems and propose solutions. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the most constructive ways to discuss race in Northeast Ohio, we welcome your feedback here.