HOW OUR COUNTRY FAILS BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS

How Our Country Fails Black Women and Girls

And why we need to talk about it.

 
Apr 28, 2016
 
  •  

The following was delivered before the Congressional Caucus for Black Women and Girls earlier today.

I hold a professorship named for one of the most extraordinary Americans to live in the twentieth century. Born in 1928, Maya Angelou experienced childhood poverty and dislocation. She was raped by an adult man when she only seven years old. The brutality and unresolved trauma resulting from that early sexual violence stole her voice and shaped her young adulthood. Eventually she became an unwed teen mother. More than three generations after Maya’s childhood, poverty, familial disruption, sexual violence, interrupted education, and teen pregnancy remain key barriers facing black girls in America’s cities, towns, and rural communities.

Maya Angelou’s story does not end with her struggles; it only begins there. She was guided out of silence by the loving hand of an educator. Her teacher did not practice zero tolerance or call a school resource officer to slam young Maya to the ground. She saw the brokenness of a girl child who needed to be drawn gently back into the world. She helped Maya regain her voice through a love of literature and poetry. As a girl Maya was burdened with poverty and brokenness, but she also encountered meaningful opportunities to learn, grow, and discover her talents while experiencing the care of her community. Maya transformed these opportunities into a life of singular accomplishment and remarkable contributions.

Getty Michael Ochs Archives

Maya became a fierce advocate for voting rights and human rights, working first with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and later with both Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz.  Recognizing the importance of race and gender health disparities, Dr. Angelou gave her name to the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In Washington, D.C., she enthusiastically contributed her name to the Maya Angelou Public Charter School offering second chances to young people emerging from juvenile incarceration. Maya Angelou’s path was not always pretty or polite, but it always affirmed that Black Girls Rock and Black Women Matter.

Girlhood has never been a shield against the brutality of white supremacy.

Indeed, Maya Angelou’s story embodies the barriers and pathways for black women and girls we have gathered to discuss today. I believe she would be pleased by this unprecedented gathering of scholars, activists, artists, journalists, citizens, and lawmakers committed to eliminating injustices black women face. I believe she would commend each of the co-chairs for the visionary leadership to develop the first Congressional Caucus for Black Women and Girls. And I believe she would ask of the larger legislative body, “What took so long?”

Vulnerability to Violence

What took so long? After all, it is not safe to be a black girl in America.

Black communities understand how unjust violence perpetrated against black boys is connected to our collective movements for racial justice and social change.  We know how the horrific murder of Emmett Till galvanized the courage of black Americans in the battle against Jim Crow. Because we know these stories we draw on them again and again. When Oscar Grant or Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice were taken too soon, we understand their deaths in historical context of racial vulnerability. We can see the need to make change―to keep our brothers.

We less frequently discuss historical violence against black girls and don’t adequately connect these stories to movements for social justice. As a result we think our daughters are safer than our sons. We forget Elizabeth Eckford walking a racist gauntlet toward Central High School in 1957; or tiny Ruby Bridges requiring federal marshals to attend elementary school in 1960, New Orleans; or four little girls murdered in their Sunday school in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.  Girlhood has never been a shield against the brutality of white supremacy. We cannot forget the vulnerabilities of black girls. Yes, we must keep our brothers, but what about our daughters? We must also say their names: Rekia Boyd, Renisha McBride, Mya Hall, Natasha McKenna, Sandra Bland.

From L-R: Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Natasha McKenna, Renisha McBride
are even more reluctant to acknowledge the violence black girls and women suffer at the hands of black men. According to the Black Women’s Blueprint, approximately 60 percent of black girls will experience sexual assault before they are 18. A leading cause of death for black women 15 to 34 is homicide by an intimate partner. Debilitating injury resulting from intimate partner violence is a health crisis for black women. Yet African American women are less likely to report rape and sexual assault than their white counterparts. [ix] When they do seek protection, black women face unique challenges in family and criminal court because many judges perceive African American women as less vulnerable, more hostile, more sexualized, and less worthy of official forms of protection.

Unequal Opportunity

What took so long? After all, black women have less economic opportunity.

Black women work more than all other women, but reap fewer economic rewards. According to a December 2015 report by the National Partnership for Women and Families, a state by state analysis shows black women’s wages range from 48 to 69 cents for every dollar paid to white men.  One in four black women live in poverty, a rate more than double white women’s poverty.

Perhaps even more shocking than black women’s poverty is black women’s wealth. According to a 2010 study by Mariko Chang, the median wealth for a single white man age 18 to 64 was $41,410.  But the median wealth for a single black woman in the same age range was $5. Five dollars is the cushion between these adult black women and an illness, an unexpected expense, a family member who needs help. Five dollars.

Education is not necessarily the answer. Neither the wage gap nor the wealth gap is resolved by educational attainment. Black women with a college degree earn more than black women with only a high school diploma, but the pay gap relative to their white male counterparts is wider. As a 2015 report by the Black Women’s Roundtable states, “It would take nearly two Black women college graduates to earn what the average White male college graduate earns by himself ($55,804 vs. $100, 620).” Finishing college does not ensure long-term wealth accumulation for black women. Lower wages, higher student loan debt, and significant expectations for redistribution within family networks means studying and working hard are insufficient remedies for the systemic economic inequities black women face.

Criminal Injustice

What took so long? After all, the criminal justice system is unfair to black women.

According to The Sentencing Project, the number of women in American prisons is increasing at nearly double the rate of men. These women are disproportionately black women according to statistics from the Department of Justice. The rate of incarceration is almost twice as high for black versus white women, 113 per 100,000 compared 51 per 100,000. Given that nearly 60 percent of these women are mothers who were caring for minor children before their sentencing, the jailing of black women has a devastating effect on black children and communities.

 

Black girls are suspended, criminalized, pushed out of school and into a juvenile system where they receive disproportionally harsh sentences often in the wake of severe emotional and sexual trauma.

Now consider this: Decades of research show the overwhelming majority of incarcerated women are survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, childhood trauma, poverty, and broken foster care systems. When black women are guilty of being victims our response is to lock them away; strip them of parental rights; permanently damage their ability to seek educations, secure housing, start businesses, and choose their elected representatives. And it begins when they are girls. Black girls are suspended, criminalized, pushed out of school and into a juvenile system where they receive disproportionally harsh sentences often in the wake of severe emotional and sexual trauma. Imagine if eight-year-old Maya Angelou had been sent to a correctional facility instead of to the head of the class.

Health Disparities

What took so long? After all, black women’s health is suffering.

Black women have higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. Black women are far more likely to suffer from fibroids and undergo hysterectomies. While HIV-AIDS infections have declined throughout the United States, black women account for 66 percent of new cases of HIV among women. And there is this shocking disparity―black women are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, but more likely to die from the disease. In 2010, the CDC reported breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for black women 45 to 64 years old, a death rate 60 percent higher than for white women.

 

Babies born to black women remain twice as likely to die before their first birthday as those born to white women.

Perhaps nothing so powerfully illustrates how the bodies of black women carry the burdens of racial injustice as the persistent racial infant mortality gap. Babies born to black women remain twice as likely to die before their first birthday as those born to white women. The gap is not closed by access to health insurance, prenatal care, or education. Black mothers with advanced degrees suffer higher infant morality than white mothers who have not finished high school. The most promising research in this area suggests that black infant mortality may be an intergenerational result of historical experiences of racial inequality. It may be that black women literally carry the legacy of American racism and sexism in our bodies, making both our infants and ourselves ill.

Here I want to pause to note that despite important commonalities, all African American women do not share the same ideas, beliefs, and burdens. Age, region, queer identity, and skin color shape black women’s lived experiences. Black trans women are uniquely vulnerable to public and state violence. Black women living with disabilities face barriers we frequently overlook. Black girls in foster care or struggling with episodic homelessness will have very different challenges than those with more stability. But these variations between and among us do not invalidate the importance of thinking about black women and girls as a group.

I have offered up a lot of statistics. These are data you will hear more about, with more context, from other witnesses throughout the day. Together these data tell us that the intersections of race and gender strongly determine life opportunities for black girls and women. Therefore it is important to think about black girls and women as a meaningful analytic category and to target justice-oriented, community-centered, and culturally literate research and public policy toward addressing the challenges faced by black women and girls. The women you will hear from today represent organizations that have been doing this work for years, often without recognition or adequate support.

Even as we map these profound injustices, don’t get it twisted. Black women are more than the sum of their relative disadvantages―they are active agents who craft meaning out of their circumstances and do so in complicated and diverse ways. The exceptional generative capacity of black girls and women in circumstances of deep inequality is so profoundly incomprehensible to so many they have little choice but to understand it as black girl magic.

 

Don’t get it twisted: Black women are more than the sum of their relative disadvantages.

How else to understand that black women had the highest voter turnout of any category of voters in both 2008 and 2012, twice choosing an American president while no one asked a single black woman to moderate a presidential debate? How else can we understand that in 2014 black women candidates running statewide in Ohio and Georgia accumulated more than one million votes even though their state parties largely ignored their races? How else to understand that when black women picked up four Congressional seats in 2014, one of those seats was to the first black woman elected to congress from New Jersey, Representative Bonnie Watson-Coleman? And her first order of business was to come here to Capitol Hill and help form this first congressional caucus for black women and girls.

Bonnie Watson Coleman
Getty

Many call it black girl magic because it seems we can do what no one else can or will do. We seem to bear burdens heavier, run races faster, and absorb brutality more stinging than ought to be possible given how few resources are at our disposal. The legacy of black women’s lives and labors show an unprecedented capacity to survive in hostile conditions. This is not magic. It is grinding work that exacts deep costs from black girls and women. Yes, black women have long made lemonade from the lemons life handed them. The problem is somebody usually sat down and drank it after she made it. That is not justice.

 

We seem to bear burdens heavier, run races faster, and absorb brutality more stinging than ought to be possible given how few resources are at our disposal.

I want to leave you with one final imperative. On July 9, 2014, Tianna-Gaines Turner, an African American mother from Philadelphia, became the only person living in poverty to testify before Representative Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee on poverty―the only person living in poverty to address the lawmakers creating policy about poverty. Her statement was powerful and clear. She concluded by admonishing the committee with these words:

My neighbors and I know what’s going on in our own communities, more than anyone else. We know our own hardships better than anyone. We have the energy, the grit, the creativity, and the strongest interest in overcoming our struggles. We’re fighting already for our families and our neighbors. We need to be taken more seriously by our state and federal governments. …

Nothing about us, without us. Congress should not make any decisions about programs meant to help families living in poverty without people who know poverty firsthand at the decision-making table…. It’s time to call in the experts.

As the work of this historic caucus moves forward, let us follow this rule set by Tianna-Gaines Turner—nothing about us, without us. Black girls must be at the table. Black women must be at the table. Not just the college professors, celebrities, business leaders, and elected officials, but our cousins, our sisters, our grandmas, the girls who didn’t make it out, the ones we locked away, the voices that have been silenced. Let us be the ones who find today’s Maya Angelou while she is yet mute, who remind her she has something to say, and then let us listen while she tells us her story.

SOURCE

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WORLD DAY FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH AT WORK: APRIL 28, 2016

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN) actively promote the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28 every year.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work
World Day for Safety and Health at Work helps raise awareness of workplace safety and health issues.
©iStockphoto.com/Eagle_373

What Do People Do?

The UN, ILO and other organizations, communities, individuals, and government bodies with an interest in workplace health and safety unite on or around April 28 to promote an international campaign known as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The UN posts this event in its events calendar each year.

Community leaders and organizational representatives often promote the day by speaking out on issues such as workplace health and safety standards. Various media have promoted the day through news articles and broadcast programs. Different types of events and activities that center on workplace health and safety are held in many countries on or around April 28 each year.

Public Life

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an observance and is not a public holiday.

Background

The International Labour Organization (ILO) started observing the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, 2003. The ILO is devoted to advancing opportunities for people to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. It aims to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, boost social protection, and strengthen dialogue in work-related issues.

Theme 2016: “Workplace Stress: A Collective Challenge”

World Day for Safety and Health at Work Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type Where It is Observed
Wed Apr 28 2010 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Thu Apr 28 2011 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Sat Apr 28 2012 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Sun Apr 28 2013 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Mon Apr 28 2014 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Tue Apr 28 2015 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Thu Apr 28 2016 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Fri Apr 28 2017 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Sat Apr 28 2018 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Sun Apr 28 2019 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance
Tue Apr 28 2020 World Day for Safety and Health at Work United Nations observance

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

HATEWATCH; HEADLINES FOR 4-28-2016

Hatewatch Headlines 4/28/2016

Kansas wants out of refugee program; Roy Moore wants complaints dismissed; KKK rally stabbing victim wants L.A. police investigated; and more.

*******************************************

Washington Post: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback backs out of refugee program, saying ‘the federal government has failed.’

The Hill: GOP Senate candidate from Florida proposes banning all Middle Easterners from the U.S.

Media Matters: Birtherism is Trump’s original sin, and now it’s the media’s latest one.

AL.com: Alabama justice Roy Moore to ask for ‘unfounded’ judicial complaints over anti-LGBT behavior to be dismissed.

Talking Points Memo: Top North Carolina Senate Republican wants to put anti-LGBT law on the November ballot.

Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ): Home occupiers spouting sovereign-citizen language appear in court, deny illegal activity.

Los Angeles Times: Man stabbed at Anaheim KKK rally calls for investigation of police.

The Conversation: The effect that racist rhetoric has on young Latinos, and why all Americans should care.

Vice: Hundreds of police officers gather to hear noted anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist lecture on Islam and terrorism.

Right Wing Watch: Religious right activists tell Target customers that their daughters could be raped.

Jewish Journal: Conference dedicated to science-fiction author Philip K. Dick disinvites white separatist.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

. . . .AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: “THE BESSEMER CUTOFF”

Black girls.

Never given value.

Never given credit.

Never given a chance.

Always stereotyped.

Always written off.

Always cutoff.

…before they have even begun.

The Bessemer Cutoff is a short beautiful film from the website The Bitter Southerner. One of a series of the Nowness Presents films, it gives a glimpse into the life of Jar’Derrica Kidd, who lives in Bessemer, Alabama, one of the most dangerous cities in America. She is a young Black girl who is graduating and ready to go out into the world. The 7:35 minute  film by Dillon Hayes, a film director and editor working in Birmingham, Alabama, touches on how so little is expected of Black girls and the odds they must prevail against to succeed in a world that often only offers them so many deaths by a thousand paper cuts.

“Why would you fear me?” asks 19-year-old Jar’Derrica Kidd. “If you do fear me, you fear a black girl who’s gonna build the world up.”

Hang in there, Jar’Derrica.

You are valued.

You are wanted.

There are still those who believe in you.

There are still those who love you.

SALUTARE.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DAY [WIPO]: APRIL 26, 2016

World Intellectual Property Day

World Intellectual Property Day is observed on April 26 each year with a variety of events and activities worldwide. It aims to increase people’s awareness and understanding of intellectual property (IP). World Intellectual Property Day is sometimes referred as World IP Day.

World Intellectual Property Day
World Intellectual Property Day focuses on increasing people’s awareness and understanding of all aspects of intellectual property.
©iStockphoto.com/samdiesel

What Do People Do?

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) works together with various government agencies, non-government organizations, community groups and individuals to hold different events and activities to promote World Intellectual Property Day each year. Activities and events may include (but are not exclusive to):

  • Stage concerts or other public performances centered around the around the World IP Day theme, with the performers delivering messages which encourage respect for creators and creativity.
  • Essay competitions for young people on themes relating to intellectual property, innovation, piracy, counterfeiting, and other similar issues.
  • Seminars or free lectures in universities to build awareness of intellectual property and its benefits among students, faculty and researchers.
  • Exhibits in museums, art galleries, schools and other educational institutions, with presentations explaining the link between exhibitions, innovation and intellectual property.

Some local intellectual and copyright offices may have an open day on or around April 26 to promote World IP Day. Some educational institutions may choose World IP Day as a time to celebrate the works of a notable inventor, artist, designer, or entrepreneur, and link discussions with the important role of intellectual property.

Public Life

World Intellectual Property Day, also known as World IP Day, is an observance held in many places around the world. It is not designated as a special public holiday.

Background

WIPO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

WIPO decided in 2000 to designate an annual World Intellectual Property Day to address the perceived gap between IP as a business/legal concept and its relevance to people’s lives. April 26 was chosen as the date upon which the convention establishing WIPO first entered into force in 1970.

WIPO plays a key role in organizing World IP Day. The activities, events and campaigns that focus on World IP Day seek to increase public understanding of what IP really means, and to demonstrate how the IP system fosters not only music, arts and entertainments, but also all products and technological innovations that help to shape the world.

External Link

World IP Day Official Site

World Intellectual Property Day Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type Where It is Observed
Mon Apr 26 2010 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Tue Apr 26 2011 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Thu Apr 26 2012 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Fri Apr 26 2013 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Sat Apr 26 2014 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Sun Apr 26 2015 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Tue Apr 26 2016 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Wed Apr 26 2017 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Thu Apr 26 2018 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Fri Apr 26 2019 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance
Sun Apr 26 2020 World Intellectual Property Day United Nations observance

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WORLD MALARIA DAY [WHO]: APRIL 25, 2016

World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day gives people the chance to promote or learn about the efforts made to prevent and reduce Malaria around the world. It is observed on April 25 each year.

United Nations' World Health Day
Good healthcare is important to prevent and treat diseases such as Malaria.
©iStockphoto.com/Günay Mutlu

What Do People Do?

Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the United Nations’ (UN) directing and coordinating authority for health, actively play a role in promoting and supporting World Malaria Day. The activities and events that take place on or around World Malaria Day are often joint efforts between governments, non-government organizations, communities and individuals. Countries that have been involved in actively participating in World Malaria Day include (but are not exclusive to):

  • Belgium.
  • Denmark.
  • Ethiopia.
  • Cameroon.
  • Germany
  • Mozambique.
  • Switzerland.
  • Uganda.
  • United States.
  • Zambia

Many people, as well as commercial businesses and not-for-profit organizations, will use the day as an opportunity to donate money towards key malaria interventions. Many fundraising events are held to support the prevention, treatment and control of malaria. Some people may also use the observance to write letters or petitions to political leaders, calling for greater support towards protecting and treating people who are at risk of malaria. Many newspapers, websites, and magazines, as well as television and radio stations, may use World Malaria Day as the chance to promote or publicize awareness campaigns about malaria.

Public Life

World Malaria Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. About half of the worlds’ population is at risk of malaria, particularly those in lower-income countries. It infects more than 500 million people each year and kills more than one million people, according to WHO. However, Malaria is preventable and curable.

The World Health Assembly instituted World Malaria Day in May 2007. The purpose of the event is to give countries in affected regions the chance to learn from each other’s experiences and support one another’s efforts. World Malaria Day also enables new donors to join in a global partnership against malaria, and for research and academic institutions to reveal scientific advances to the public. The day also gives international partners, companies and foundations a chance to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to scale up what has worked.

External Link

WHO Information on World Malaria Day

World Malaria Day Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type Where It is Observed
Sun Apr 25 2010 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Mon Apr 25 2011 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Wed Apr 25 2012 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Thu Apr 25 2013 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Fri Apr 25 2014 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Sat Apr 25 2015 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Mon Apr 25 2016 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Tue Apr 25 2017 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Wed Apr 25 2018 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Thu Apr 25 2019 World Malaria Day United Nations observance
Sat Apr 25 2020 World Malaria Day United Nations observance

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WORLD IMMUNIZATION WEEK: APRIL 24, 2016

World Immunization Week 2016: Close the immunization gap

World Immunization Week 2016 banner

Immunization game-changers should be the norm worldwide

21 April 2016 — Immunization averts 2 to 3 million deaths annually. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, if global vaccination coverage improves. Today, nearly 1 in 5 children worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases. During World Immunization Week 2016, WHO highlights recent gains in immunization coverage, and outlines further steps needed to meet global vaccination targets by 2020.

World Immunization Week 2016 banner

Immunization for all throughout life

April 2016 — World Immunization Week 2016 is coming soon, 24-30 April, and will focus on “Closing the immunization gap – Immunization for all throughout life”. WHO has designed a campaign toolkit for partners and members of the global immunization community to use to help raise awareness locally. The toolkit contains banners, posters, key messages, a visual identity and campaign guidelines.

Leopold Museum lits up at night, Vienna, Austria

Austria: Measles in the spotlight

7 April 2016 — In Austria, where elimination of measles is tantalizingly close, a creative and innovative campaign seeks to encourage vaccination among unimmunized adults.

Mother with a child, Nepal.

World Immunization Week in Nepal: An anniversary of remembrance

April 2016 — In April 2015, a major earthquake struck Nepal. A year later, people in one village recall their struggles, in its aftermath, to keep their children safe through immunization.

Infographic: Six goals of the Global vaccine action plan

1. Immunization against diphtheria, tetanus
2. Measles mortality reduction
3. Rubella elimination
4. Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination
5. Polio eradication
6. Use of new or underutilized vaccines

fact buffet

115 millionIn 2014, 115 million infants worldwide received diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine.

Fact sheet on immunization coverage

85%In 2014, about 85% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday.

Fact sheet on measles

2 countriesToday, only 2 countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.

Fact sheet on poliomyelitis


Video

Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective means to help children grow into healthy adults. We have made enormous progress, but 1 in 5 children is still not being reached.

Quiz

Quiz: How much do you know about immunization?

Find out which diseases can be prevented through vaccination, and which disease mainly affects children.



Immunization Week in Regions

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized