It’s as reliable as tax season: the annual healthiest cities in America ranking. The list’s arrival at the dawn of every year makes sense. A new year brings resolutions from many of us to eat less, move more and generally be better at this healthier lifestyle thing. In fact, a 2020 Inc. survey found 71 percent of Americans plan to change their eating habits, 65 percent want to be more physically active and 54 percent want to drop pounds.
Sticking to these goals is easier when you live in a community that embraces a healthier lifestyle alongside you. So when Niche compiles its yearly healthiest places to live rankings, it takes multiple factors into account—including smoking, obesity rates, number of physicians and mental health professionals, access to gyms and regular alcohol consumption—and weighs them against work-life balance, acreage of park space and walkability.
As usual, there’s very little diversity in the population of the top 50 cities on the list. Of metropolitan areas with a decent percentage of black folks, only Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles and Oakland, California, made the cut, and none of these cities cracked the top 15 of Niche’s list.
The reason for this is clear: Livability indexes don’t take into account the experiences of non-white people.
To rectify this, CityLab worked with an urban sociologist to analyze the best metro areas for black women. To be clear, no city in this country is earning an A+ when it comes to our lives. Still, the CityLab index includes factors not accounted for in the mainstream rankings, including inequities for black women in terms of income status, health conditions and educational accomplishment.
Using this index, it’s clear we should probably make that move east. Nine of the top 10 cities on their list of Best + Worst Metros for Black Women’s Health Outcomes (among cities with at least 100,000 black women) are east of the Mississippi River. Florida and North Carolina carry the lion’s share of best cities for black women in terms of health outcomes, with three locales per state. The top 10: