What Numbers Matter?

Some numbers count more than others.

Take North Lawndale’s numbers.

photo by Carlos Javier OrtizPer-capita income              $12,548
Chicago                             $27,148
Households below poverty level 38.6%
Chicago 18.7%
Unemployed 18.5%
Chicago 11.1%
Living in crowded housing 7.2%
Chicago 4.7%
No high school diploma 30.4%
Chicago 20.6%
The  numbers tell us that within  North Lawndale’s nearly three mile radius there were over 2,600 drug arrests last year; that North Lawndale ranked fourth in Chicago communities in 2013 in violent crimes, and that poverty afflicts more than one out of three of its residents.Why do these numbers matter so much?When we tally the crime rate for Chicago, we need as well to tally the poverty or inequality rate for the communities where violence is the most threatening. Rather than consider Chicago as one world and one statistic, we need to look at the six communities where poverty reigns along with violence.Here’s one resource – the Chicago Tribune’s chart of crimes by communities. Click on it and then let it take you to the City of Chicago’s chart of key measures of life across Chicago.http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/Again, we need not to report on the crime rate in Chicago but the crime rate in the various worlds of Chicago, and we need numbers like this to guide us to better, and more thoughtful reporting.

Do you agree?

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