Although Pennsylvania has a rich past and a varied population, racism and discrimination still have a negative impact on the state. Refton, a little village in Lancaster County with only 164 residents, is the most racist city in Pennsylvania, according to a recent analysis by the analytical website RoadSnacks.
Data from Virginia Commonwealth University, which maps the locations of Klaverns, local Ku Klux Klan chapters, from 1915 to 1940, was used to conduct this study. The historical KKK presence per capita was then determined by the study by dividing the total number of Klaverns by each city’s current population.
According to the report, there have historically been 144 Klaverns in Pennsylvania spread over 101 sites. Pittsburgh was next with ten, while Philadelphia was first with eighteen. Refton had the greatest ratio of Klaverns per capita (0.0061) after adjusting for population size, meaning that there was one Klavern for every 164 residents.
Using the same standards, the survey also determined Pennsylvania’s top ten most racist cities:
- Rowes Run
History of Racism in Pennsylvania
The history of Pennsylvania is nuanced; racism’s origins can be traced to the colonial period, when slavery was tolerated. In both the Civil War and the abolitionist movement, the state was crucial. But events like the race riots in Philadelphia in 1842 and Chester in 1964, which involved acts of racial discrimination and violence, have marred its past. There have also been traces left by white supremacist organizations such as the American Nazi Party, Aryan Nations, and KKK.
A 2013 survey found that Pennsylvania was the 12th state in the country for racist Google searches, with the highest rates seen in the central and western regions.
Current State of Racism in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, racism still exists and has an impact on the criminal justice system, politics, housing, work, education, and health. Pennsylvania was placed forty-first out of fifty states for racial equality in the 2019 State of Black America report. The number of hate crimes has increased, with 345 recorded in 2018, up 48% from 2017. These crimes mainly target people because of their race, ethnicity, or heritage.
The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among other events, sparked a wave of protests against racism and police violence. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York, among other Pennsylvanian cities, saw large-scale protests calling for justice and change.
Addressing Racism in Pennsylvania: Challenges and Opportunities
Collaboration is needed to combat racism in Pennsylvania between public servants, companies, media, activists, educators, and members of the community. Obstacles encompass inadequate and imprecise data, the endurance of racial stereotypes, opposition to anti-racism initiatives, and structural impediments.
Opportunities for reform include racial disparity policies, Black Lives Matter advocacy movements, and the state’s growing diversity. Initiatives in education and training also seek to advance cultural awareness and competency.
Although Refton was named the most racist city in Pennsylvania, racism is a problem that affects people from many walks of life in the state and country. It is our collective duty to acknowledge, address, and combat racism in order to promote a more just and inclusive society for all.