Gawker is on a quest to determine the most racist city in America. Your contributions are vital to the cause. Please add your insights in the discussion system below. Or if you'd like to nominate another city please send an email here. Today... Cincinnati, OH.
City: Cincinnati, OH
Ethnic Breakdown: 49% White, 45% Black, 2% Asian, 3% Latino 1% Mystery Box
History of Racism:
• Race riots as recently as 2001. 2001!
• "For nearly a decade, the Ku Klux Klan every year erected a cross in Fountain Square downtown, and Cincinnati police officers earned overtime protecting it from destruction."
• " Cincinnati racial violence dates back to 1829, when whites drove about 1,000 African-Americas - or half of the city's black population - out of town... More white-on-black violence occurred in 1836, and again in 1841, when whites fired a cannon three times into the black neighborhood east of Sixth Street. "These riots were not what we'd call "race riots' today, when black people riot in their own neighborhood. Back then a "race riot' meant that white people went into the black neighborhood and burned things and killed people," says James Oliver Horton, director of the African-American Communities Project at the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution.
Police Brutality? Yes.
Hear it from Cincinnatians!
The main thing about Cincinnati is not that it's the city itself that's racist, it's everything around it. You have to go around the I-275 circle to find the real racism in that town. And it's a more subtle racism. Those places are filled with people who are annoyed that the world is too "politically correct" for them to tell that awesome racist joke that they just heard. These "Cincinnatians" live 20 miles outside town cause the black people started moving out of the inner city and at the current rate they might be living in Columbus in 20 years (Oh wait, that's a GAY-friendly town so FUCK THAT)
Personal Anecdote: I was driving with my girlfriend and we ended up driving by Music Hall, which is probably the most beautiful building in the city, which also meant that we drove into Over-the-Rhine which is a pretty harsh inner city area. Now it's only about 4 or 5 in the afternoon during the summer, so it's very light outside. As I'm driving through the neighborhood, my girlfriend (she lived far outside the city) is SQUIRMING in her seat. She starts pleading with me to get her out of there. She basically starts yelling at me to get her out of there. It's early afternoon, the only people there are just some homeless people milling around but nothing crazy.. There was literally nothing happening around us. This girl's view was so warped that she thought the instant we stepped downtown we had at least a 50/50 shot we'd get shot cause of black people. I no longer date this woman.
I went to public school in this district and besides their onerous school zoning practice of screening eligible households predicated on property value and tax income brackets, the school itself lived in such an insular world that the concept of even entering the city of Cincinnati was a punchline or the set up for a black joke. I've never met more self-loathing black friends than in Cincinnati and just the quotidian, day-to-day tacit racism like a white person crossing the street at the sight of a bus stop or hearing one of my black friends being referred to as "boy" by a Sheriff at a routine DUI checkpoint and the suspicion that arouse from the Officer was appalling.
The local news stories always seem deliberately targeted at poor income neighborhood crimes, perpetuating this notion that these areas that have large black populations should be avoided at all costs. There's a reason the city is broke and has to have a tax incentive (5 straight years of no property tax) for people who decide to buy property downtown. Until recent changes in legislature, the city was so antiquated, it used first-past-the-post voting during City Council elections to decide who would become mayor, often elected by a mere margin of only a couple hundred votes. There's a reason Mark Twain said "When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times."
The most racist city I have ever been to is Cincinnati. Fuck that place.
I am black, grew up in Maryland, including Southern Maryland, and never knew how bad it could get until I moved to Cincy.
My first day there, I was denied seating at a restaurant. I was literally the ONLY person waiting to be seated and no one would even take my name or ask how many in my party. I just stood there and they stared at me like, "Please leave our whites only place of business." As I'm trying to figure out what the heck is going on, a couple of white people walk in and the host immediately rushes past me, straight to the white family and asks where they want to be seated! I spoke up and was like, "Excuse me, I've been waiting for a table? Hello?!?" The response: "Oh, I didn't see you there." That's right. Black people seem to turn invisible in Cincy when people get called out on their racism.
And, don't even get me started on the McDonalds that I walked into and then walked out of because of all the death stares I got for daring to go into a freaking McDonalds. But, that's not even the worse part. The riots were the worst part.
I was there in the early 2000's and at that time the Cincy police really enjoyed killing black people. Black person running? Kill ‘em. Black person holding a pen? Kill ‘em. Black person existing? Kill ‘em.
So, when the black people in Over the Rhine had finally had enough of this, there were the riots. Riots are dangerous and you would think there would have been an emergency notice that people were rioting in the heart of the city. But, noooo! We can't let on that Cincy has a race problem that has sparked riots.
I found out about the riots, while they were happening, from my dad who lives in NY! "Hey, are you okay? Stay safe and indoors." Why, I wonder? "Because they're rioting!" says my Dad. But, I was watching local television at the time and no one was saying anything! I had to turn to fraking CNN to find out what was happening not even 10 minutes from me in the gas light district! It was a total local media blackout (no pun intended) about the riots. It wasn't even mentioned by the news until the regular 11:00pm news broadcast. No special report. No info crawling on the bottom of the screen. Nothing! It was like they didn't want to admit they had a problem and they didn't want to frighten any of the poor white people in the city. So instead, they just didn't say anything. Good luck!
So, yeah, the riots were terrible. Especially the mayor's initial plan for dealing with the riots: A "city" curfew, but just for where the black people lived. Not for any of the white people. The mayor was none too pleased when the city attorneys told him that plan would be illegal for a multitude of reasons, so instead they finally put a curfew down on the whole city.
Ugh, I could go on, but I just don't have the time and flashbacks are so bad. Cincy is a terrible, horrible place. There is a cloud of awfulness over that city and it has definitely got to be one of the most racist places in America. Hands down.
A friend recently laid out a bar owner who told our a black friend that he wanted to kill him because "he's a nigger". The worst part is all of the people who stuck up for the owner. "Yeah, he's a drunk ass, whatcha gonna do?" Punch his ass in the face, that's what. He was DOWN, too. Dudes got free drinks at the rival bar for months.
There are many decent human beings there, but also a lot of ignorant assholes. You couldn't pay me to live in Cincinnati again—I prefer to avoid conversations with the type of people who are convinced Obama is a Muslim, enjoy circulating racist emails, and have blind faith in the good old boys police network.