With Detroit under an Emergency Financial Manager, half of Michigan blacks will have no elected local government

A non-racist law with wildly racial impact

Back in December of 2011, I wrote a series of pieces that showed how Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law was having a skewed negative impact on African American cities. With Detroit on the verge of being assigned an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) and with updated census data, it’s time to revisit the chart that put this law on the national radar.

If Detroit gets an EFM, 49% of the African Americans in Michigan will live in cities where their elected officials have been replaced by a single, state-appointed ruler.

Here is the data (with the African American population in Michigan updated to the correct 14.3% figure):

City Population % African American # of African Americans
Allen Park 27,921 2.1% 586
Benton Harbor 10,047 89.2% 8,962
Detroit 706,585 82.7% 584,346
Ecorse 9,414 46.4% 4,368
Flint 101,558 56.6% 57,482
Pontiac 59,887 52.1% 31,201
Total 686,945
Michigan 9,876,801 14.3% 1,412,383

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

If you include cities that are under consent agreements, Inkster with its 18,381 African Americans and River Rouge with 3,950, the percentage rises to 50.2% — over half.

The school districts with Emergency Financial Managers are also in majority black cities:

  • Detroit — 82.7%
  • Highland Park — 93.5%
  • Muskegon Heights — 78.3%

As I have said in the past, this law isn’t overtly racist. However, no matter how you slice it, its impact is blatantly skewed toward African American communities. In fact, except for Allen Park and Ecorse, over half of the residents in cities with Emergency Financial Managers and consent agreements are African Americans.

This is, plainly put, the result of decades of racial inequality in everything from education and employment to housing and economic investment. So, while the law itself isn’t racist, the causes of the situations in which the law is applied most certainly have been.

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