This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

By Sherri Kolade

If you had a choice, where would you live?

According to personal finance company Money Geek, options abound for Black people searching for prime geographical spots, which are shining in their favor when it comes to great places to live, work and play.

Travel Noire reported last fall that a 2021 survey conducted by Smart Asset showcased 10 cities where Black Americans are thriving economically, measured 129 cities across six metrics:   

  • Median Black household income  
  • Black homeownership rate  
  • Black labor force participation rate  
  • Percentage of Black adults who have a bachelor’s degree   
  • Percentage of Black business owners.  

In the report, 10 Cities Where Black Americans Are More Successful, Virginia Beach and Grand Prairie, Tex., were the top contenders in being enviable cities for Black people to reside. Virginia Beach, noted as a city in which Black Americans have great success economically, also has the fourth-highest Black labor force participation rate (at 79.9%) and the lowest Black poverty rate (at less than 5%) of all 129 cities in the study, according to Travel Noire.   

Also, over a third of Black residents in Grand Prairie obtained their bachelor’s degree, and the median Black household income is over $63,000.  

The 10th city in the survey is Elk Grove, Calif., where the median household income is roughly $76,300.  

“Nationwide, when it comes to wealth and personal finance success, Black Americans generally have less. Black household income is 33% lower than the overall median household income, and the Black homeownership rate is 22% points lower than the general homeownership rate. Though the national picture is less than encouraging, economic outcomes for Black Americans are better in some places than others,” said Smart Asset in a statement published on its website.  

Locally, one city is shining, too.  

According to Money Geek, the recently released survey Black Women and the Wealth Gap: Best Cities to Flourish Financially found the city of Southfield is the top-ranking place for Black women to live.  

Out of 25 cities ranked, the Detroit suburb ranked #1 in the list due to high-ranking finances.  

Dr. Lori Martin, a professor of African and African American studies and sociology at Louisiana State University, said in the article that the winning locations made the list for a reason.   

“A livable place for Black women is safe, and for women with children, it is home to schools where all students have access to an excellent education. It would also be diverse, with a visible and thriving Black community, including Black businesses,” Martin said.  

Money Geek ranked 200 cities with populations greater than 65,000 from the best to the worst for Black women. The ranking includes analysis of income, poverty rate, homeownership, educational attainment, and health insurance gaps between Black women and the entire population nationally and locally.   

Over the last decade, Detroit and Michigan’s Black population dropped in numbers, according to the latest U.S. Census that reveals Black residents have grown as the majority across Detroit suburbs, The Detroit News reported.    

Primarily Black suburbs before the recent U.S. Census report included Southfield and Oak Park.    

Former longtime Southfield resident Maritza Cooper, 36, (who represented the city in a Mrs. Michigan-America Pageant competition last year) told the Michigan Chronicle that she lived there — since 1999 — before moving to Detroit in 2011. Also, her parents still live in the city.  

Former Southfield resident Maritza Cooper says that Southfield and Detroit, among other areas, are great places to live for Black residents.  Photo courtesy of Maritza Cooper 

Her mother, Christine Mejia, who has lived in Southfield for 23 years, said that the city is a great place for Black people and others who might enjoy a diverse lifestyle like she does.  

“Southfield is definitely a melting pot. Everyone works hard for what they have. The neighborhoods were safe, well-kept and maintained,” she said, adding that she also liked the school system when her children were growing up. “These were some [of the] reasons why I chose Southfield as my place of residence.” 

“Everybody looks out for one another,” Cooper said, adding that Detroit, too, is a city that never sleeps on Black people. “Detroit is very similar with the culture – it’s just very rich in culture and you’re able to kind of absorb the different things around you based on where you are. It is such a large city, [you] get to see different pieces of the culture and the downtown is so rich and becoming this hub of Black excellence and I love that.”  

Cooper’s husband, Larry Cooper, a federal investigator, said that “Detroit is home.”  

“A home can be broken, dysfunctional, nurturing or all of the above; nonetheless, it’s the foundation that shapes and defines many of us as people,” Larry Cooper said, adding that as a Black man who’s the product of several generations of native Detroiters the city served as a model of perseverance, progress, faith, family and rebirth. “Detroit and I have history and I feel that’s what draws me here.  

“Detroit is becoming a beacon of renewal for southeastern Michigan and people are drawn to the city as a place of entertainment, industry and social interaction. However, Detroit is my point of reference for community block parties, park picnics and barbeques, tent revivals, and a true reflection of a village raising its children.”