Don’t Forget Flint!

Lead crisis: Flint braces as Michigan shuts down free bottled water sites

“My water stinks. It still burns to take a shower. There’s no way they can say it’s safe.”

by Erik Ortiz /  / Updated 

Shawn Jones, 42, right, and Tony Price, 54, distribute bottled water at a point of distribution in Flint, Michigan on Aug. 11, 2017.Terray Sylvester /The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP file

 

After Michigan’s governor announced the state will stop providing free bottled water to residents of Flint — afflicted four years ago by lead-tainted drinking water — churches and charities said Monday they’re bracing for a surge in people seeking help.

 “Normally we give out whatever a family wants,” said Bill Quarles, a deacon of the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. “But now we may have to limit that until more supplies come in.”

Black Infant Mortality

More to Think About: Black Infant Mortality

Read the entire article here.   By Linda Villarosa

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from “The Hidden Toll,” the cover story in the NY Times Sunday magazine.
Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.
This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with another tragedy: a crisis of death and near death in black mothers themselves. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago. Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 maternal deaths occur in the United States.
In addition, the C.D.C. reports more than 50,000 potentially preventable near-deaths, like Landrum’s, per year — a number that rose nearly 200 percent from 1993 to 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, according to the C.D.C. — a disproportionate rate that is higher than that of Mexico, where nearly half the population lives in poverty — and as with infants, the high numbers for black women drive the national numbers.

The crisis of maternal death and near-death also persists for black women across class lines. This year, the tennis star Serena Williams shared in Vogue the story of the birth of her first child and in further detail in a Facebook post. The day after delivering her daughter, Alexis Olympia, via C-section in September, Williams experienced a pulmonary embolism, the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung by a blood clot.

Lessons the Church Can Learn from Black Panther

 4 Lessons the Church Can Learn from Black Panther

Ryan Duncan   Feb 23, 2018

Image result for black panther

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know what you’re thinking, “What could possibly be said about Black Panther which hasn’t already been said?” Marvel’s latest foray into the Cinematic Universe was easily one of the most anticipated movies of 2018, and since its debut, Black Panther has absolutely mauled the box office competition. The film has been praised by critics and fans of all backgrounds, inspired countless articles about the dangers of inequality, and reminded viewers how great stories can help build bridges. There’s so much to take in, and plenty which has already been discussed. For my part though, I’d like to focus on a specific audience which could benefit from the lessons found in Black Panther: the Church.

While there are many valuable takeaways to be found in this Marvel hero, here are just four all Christians should consider:

1. Representation is Important

Even before its release, Black Panther had garnered a huge following thanks to its representation of Africans, woman, and people of color. T’Challa isn’t just a superhero, he’s also a king and an ambassador for his people. His sister Shuri is brave, intelligent, and funny, while the Dora Milaje are warriors who epitomize power and dedication. Each character is proud of their heritage and of who they are. They’re the type of heroes who inspire audiences down to their bones.

 

2 Ministers Are Trying To Revive The Campaign To End Poverty That MLK Started

2 Ministers Are Trying To Revive The Campaign To End Poverty That MLK Started

“The time is now — more than ever — for us to have a Poor People’s Campaign.”

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about them, their wide eyes and the silent hunger that lay behind them.  Staring up at the ceiling from his motel bed, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told his closest confidant, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, that the impoverished children they visited earlier that day were cemented in his mind.

It was June 1966 and the pair had stopped by an early Head Start facility in Marks, Mississippi, which is the seat of Quitman County, a devastatingly poor area in the alluvial plains of the Mississippi Delta that was thought to be the most impoverished in the country at the time.  Quitman had everything King fought against: A lack of job and home security, particularly for the black sharecropping families who often lived in shacks on the plantations where they worked unpredictable harvests. Abysmal schools, where black students were taught in poorly ventilated classrooms with out-of-date textbooks and school lunches they couldn’t afford.

But it was what King saw in that Head Start facility, a program developed to prepare young children for school, that would push him to launch the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, an effort to demand economic security and an improvement in the quality of life for impoverished Americans. After watching a teacher cut an apple into quarters in order to feed four children, he broke down in tears — an unusual display of public emotion from King. Ultimately, he made the small town of Marks the launching pad for his campaign’s march on Washington, planned for the spring of 1968.

Read the entire article here.

Alexa Canady

Image result for alexa canadyAlexa Canady   Surgeon, Educator   (1950–) 

In 1981, Alexa Canady became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. Dr. Alexa Canady was born on November 7, 1950, in Lansing, Michigan. While she was in college, a summer program inspired her to pursue a medical career. In 1981, she became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. Canady specialized as a pediatric neurosurgeon and served as chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital in Michigan from 1987 to 2001.

 

African Americans in Times of War

Image result for tuskegee airmen   Black History Month 2018  honors
“African Americans in Times of War” like the
legendary Tuskegee Airmen, who were highly
decorated for their service in World War II.

The theme for Black History Month in 2018 was “African Americans in Times of War” honoring those brave men and women who served their countries in the armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending the American ideals of freedom and democracy.

During World War II, for example, more than 2.5 million black men registered for the draft and one million served as draftees or volunteers in every branch of the armed forces.

A decade before the first glimmers of the Amercan civil rights movement, most black men were assigned to segregated combat groups.

Even so, more than 12,000 black men who served in the segregated 92nd Division received citations or were decorated for “extraordinary heroism” on the battlefield. Perhaps more famously, the Tuskegee Airmen also became legendary for their heroic feats, and in total received a Distinguished Unit Citation, several silver stars, 150 distinguished flying crosses, fourteen bronze stars, and 744 air medals.

At war’s end, recognition of the African-American contribution to the war effort would eventually lay the groundwork for the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 1960s. Read more here.

Football and Social Justice

Players and Owners Take the Next Step in Cooperating on Social Justice Initiatives

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By PETER KING    January 23, 2018      si.com

The NFL will announce today the latest step in its seven-year, $90 million commitment to players’ social-justice issues, forming a committee of five players and five owners to further advance what the league says is its effort to assist players in trying to make improvements in education, relations with police, and the criminal-justice system in the league’s communities.

 

The committee includes Kelvin Beachum and Josh McCown of the Jets, Washington cornerback Josh Norman and retired players Anquan Boldin and Aeneas Williams. On the owners side are Arizona’s Michael Bidwill, Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Shad Khan of Jacksonville, Stephen Ross of Miami and Cleveland’s Jimmy Haslam. The owners were appointed by the NFL; the players were appointed by the Players Coalition, a social-justice group led by Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles, among others.

“I think it’s unprecedented what has happened,” Boldin said this week. “I don’t think it’s the NFL’s job to end racism in America, but the NFL has helped us expand our platform, and the NFL has backed us, and helped bring about change. … From the Players Coalition standpoint, we’ve been able to show how unjust our criminal-justice system is, and we’ve been able to work on that. We want change to come from this protest.”  Read more here.

REMEMBERING BILLIE HOLIDAY

REMEMBERING BILLIE HOLIDAY

 

Columbia Records/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

This April marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Billie Holiday, the recording artist fondly known as “Lady Day.” Known as much for her demons as her pioneering jazz vocals, Holiday is a member of both the Grammy and the Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.

In “Lady Day: A Major American Musician and Recording Artist of the Twentieth Century,”Jacqueline Birdsong-Johnson cites Holiday’s voice as nothing short of groundbreaking. “Prior to jazz ensemble recordings with Billie as lead vocalist,” she explains, “jazz artists were only envisioned to be instrumentalists.”

Holiday’s voice, unique phrasings, and fearless innovation changed that. As Holiday’s fame grew, Birdsong-Johnson notes, she used a unique combination of blues and jazz elements to create a new type of vocal—one that had a lasting impact due to over 350 recordings that showcased her vocal style and raised the profile of jazz worldwide.

In contrast, Farah Jasmine Griffin uses Holiday as a lens through which to view the writings of Amiri Baraka, who wrote a series of texts about Holiday as a mysterious, contradictory fellow poet. Griffin cites Holiday as a sort of “artistic ancestor” of Baraka, tracking his responses to Holiday as he moves from mere description to inspiration. “If she is tragic on one side, she is all hipness, flipness, and flirtation on the other,” writes Griffin. “…her individual, personal tragedy is a collective, historical tragedy of black people. Holiday is the figure through which the weight of this collective history is expressed.”

Read more here.    Listen/watch here.

Governor Malloy signs criminal justice reform bills at Faith Congregational Church

Governor Malloy signs criminal justice reform bills at Faith Congregational Church

Flanked by community leaders, politicians and organizations across the political spectrum, Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation to reform Connecticut’s criminal justice system on Wednesday at Faith Congregational Church in Hartford.

The governor signed a total of nine bills, which included reforms to the pre-trial bail system, requiring a criminal conviction in order for the state to forfeit an individual’s assets, and allowing barbers and hairdressers to obtain a state license despite having a prior conviction.

The governor was joined by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Hartford mayor Luke Bronin, community leaders and organizations such as the ACLU and the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.

“Connecticut has gone from being a laggard in criminal justice reform to really being at the very forefront of criminal justice reform nationally,” Malloy said in his opening remarks.

Malloy said he chose the Faith Congregational Church because he initially announced his push for criminal justice reform at the church in 2015. Malloy said that these reforms, particularly bail reform, were the result of “years of work.”

The bail reform bill will eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders who are arrested for misdemeanor crimes and who would not face prison time even if convicted. Previously, those who could not afford a cash bail had to wait in jail until their trial, which could sometimes take months.

Malloy cited the state’s declining crime rate and prison population as proof that Connecticut is making progress on crime, but said too many people are stuck in jail simply because they are too poor to make bail. He also pointed out that the issue adversely affects the Hispanic and African-American community.

“The idea of our fellow citizens sitting in jail as a result of their inability to pay a bond was terribly unfair,” Malloy said.

The governor cited one instance in which an individual could not afford a $1 cash bail.

2016 study found that 3,400 people were held in Connecticut jails pending trial in 2015. Of those being held, 690 had a bond below $20,000, the lowest surety bond level allowable in the state. Offenses ranged from sixth-degree larceny to marijuana possession, although some were held for more serious offenses.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the legislation would affect 388 people being held in pre-trial detention. The cost to taxpayers is $120.10 per day for each person, meaning the new law could potentially save Connecticut millions per year.

 

Among those speaking at the ceremonial signing was Yankee Institute director of public policy, Suzanne Bates, who had testified in support of a number of the criminal justice bills, including bail reform.

“To achieve success, people need both freedom and security,” Bates said. “The great news about these bills is they do both. They enhance individual liberty and they do it without compromising public safety.”

Bates added the reforms will also help Connecticut’s fiscal problems. “Over-spending on courts and prisons is unjustifiable from an economic perspective, and at times even counterproductive.”

The bail reform legislation drew the ire of bail bondsmen from across the state whose industry is affected by the change. The Bail Association of Connecticut testified against the bill claiming it was unnecessary and would potentially let those with multiple offenses back on the street.

The bail reform bill received support from both political parties and garnered the large majority of votes in both the House and Senate.

Malloy concluded by saying “we are a better, safer, fairer Connecticut today than we have been in a long, long time and perhaps at any time in our history.”