It turns out Wakanda — a place full of Black wealth, health, and longevity — isn’t just a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It turns out a place that enables Black folks to thrive actually does exist in real life. 

That’s the finding of a team of researchers who’ve partnered to tell a much different story about Black life expectancy than normally broadcasted: in some places, we’re living nearly a century — and there are good reasons why. 

Dr. Andre Perry, author of the book “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities” and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy nonprofit, says “when we’re talking about Black communities, often we start from an emphasis of deficit — what’s wrong with the Black community.”

He calls this approach problematic because it doesn’t leave room to learn from the positives. 

And most of the time, investment dollars are given to people outside of the community — instead of to community members — to “fix” it. 

But now, the Black Progress Index, produced by Perry and other researchers in partnership with the NAACP, is shifting how problems are solved by mapping out places where Black people are living the longest and highlighting the social conditions likely causing the success. 

Where Are Black People Living the Longest?

After scanning the entire United States, the researchers found that Manassas Park, Virginia, a city of roughly 17,000 located 30 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., and Weld County, Colorado, a metropolitan area just north of Denver that’s home to 378,000 people, ranked highest with life expectancies of 96-years-old. 

Black folks in those communities are living well past the national average of 74-years-old. 

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