The neighborhoods where “Talk With Us” videos are being shot have some of the highest poverty rates and percentages of minority residents in Oklahoma City.
University of Oklahoma students and Oklahoma Watch journalists sought and analyzed demographic, economic and other data for all census tracts in Oklahoma County, for 2010 or later. Then they identified clusters of high-poverty residential census tracts. Census tracts are relatively small, geographical subsets of counties and generally have populations ranging from about 1,200 to 8,000.
Two of the three areas identified — northeast and south Oklahoma City — are home to cherished historical communities. The other area, miles west of downtown, features a troubled corridor along West 10th Street with rundown apartment complexes and modest homes.
The area is predominantly black and represents the outgrowth of the black community from its old residential and commercial hubs in near-east downtown, known as the Deep Deuce. The Deep Deuce has been remade into a trendy enclave of apartments, condos, restaurants and bars. The northeast area was home to the leaders of the city’s civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It now suffers from blight, depopulation, high crime and other social ills related to poverty.
The historic heart of south Oklahoma City is Capitol Hill, which was a town for a short time in the early 20th century. It evolved into a center of commerce and culture and retains a sense of independence and pride, with its own chamber of commerce. The demographics of a swath of south Oklahoma City have shifted: Many neighborhoods are now predominantly Hispanic and poverty rates are over 40 percent. Hispanic culture abounds. Spanish is heard and seen on many streets, and Spanish-language media are here or nearby.
North of Interstate 40, in areas bordered by West 10th Street, is a mix of a tattered or modest homes, industrial lots, cheap retail and sketchy apartment complexes. Poverty and crime thrive. Some apartments are magnets for immigrants. In late 2013, Oklahoma City police secured a grant to launch an initiative to combat violent crime in a section of the west side.