Tulsa has a history of racial inequality, perhaps most notably is the 1921 Tulsa race riot that destroyed what was then the wealthiest black community in the country. However, five years earlier, in 1916, a city ordinance was designed to ensure racial segregation. Immediately following the race riot, city leaders passed more zoning regulations mandating the races remained segregated.
This is Tulsa’s demographic legacy. By measuring inequality among different groups in the Tulsa community, we can get clarity on where things stand today and make change in policy necessary to increase equity in our city.
What does equality look like in Tulsa? How do we measure it? To answer these questions, the City of Tulsa and Community Service Council have created a framework relative to Tulsa- specific disadvantaged populations and equality gaps. Tulsa will have the tools to develop realistic targets and specific interventions for reducing inequalities at the local and neighborhood level based on data. Through the process, Tulsa can also design policy solutions to address the greatest inequalities we face as a community, to make Tulsa a better place for all.
The primary focuses, or “Themes”, are as follows: Economic Opportunity, Education, Housing, Justice, Public Health, and Services. The City intends to utilize the equality indicators data that will be collected, analyzed and communicated by the Community Service Council to demonstrate the commitment, transparency and accountability to citizens regarding the efforts underway to improve the conditions for under-served Tulsans.
Indicators are a measure of change over time. They are increasingly used to evaluate projects, programs, and initiatives on a range of issues. Indicators rely on various data (e.g., administrative data, public survey data, expert focus group data, systematic observation data), and in fact good indicator tools combine multiple data sources to address a concern that no single data source, by itself, is fully reliable. Indicators can be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative indicators are expressed in numbers based on counts, percentages, rates or ratios. Qualitative indicators are described as narratives.
Equality indicators are one of the types of social indicators (see Social Indicators versus Equality Indicators). They are concerned with the comparison of two groups, typically most and least disadvantaged, on a given issue. As the gap between these two extreme groups decreases, equality increases.
Outcomes versus Opportunities
The Equality Indicators focuses on outcomes rather than opportunities based on the recognition that equal opportunities do not always lead to equal outcomes. For example, building a new hospital in a poor neighborhood may increase access to medical care but does not guarantee better public health outcomes for local residents. It is clearly aspirational as a definition of “equality,” since achieving equal outcomes in all areas of life for all groups is impossible. Instead, the indicators measure proximity to that utopian state: the closer a city gets to it, the better.