African American health and social justice

Improving the health of African Americans in the USA: an overdue opportunity for social justice

  • Allan S. Noonan
  • Hector Eduardo Velasco-Mondragon and
  • Fernando A. Wagner
Public Health Reviews201637:12   https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-016-0025-4

Published: 3 October 2016

In 1928, Louis Israel Dublin wrote “An improvement in Negro health, to the point where it would compare favorably with that of the white race, would at one stroke wipe out many disabilities from which the race suffers, improve its economic status and stimulate its native abilities as would no other single improvement. These are the social implications of the facts of Negro Health” [1]. This compelling assertion remains valid to date. The fact that the African American population is the least healthy ethnic group in the USA is not due to chance. The first African Americans were brought to the USA in chains as slaves. The transport itself from Africa to the New World remains one of the best examples of the ability of one sector of humanity to destroy the health of another. Estimates of the death rate of slaves during the infamous “middle passage” are wide ranging, from approximately 9 to 35 %. Slavery associated deaths were likely much higher [23]

Thirty years after the (1985) Heckler Report was released, African Americans still endure unacceptable health disparities and lack the power over policy and actions that could make the changes to eliminate such disparities.

Read the entire article HERE.

Toni Morrison – No Place for Self Pity

LITERATURE + VIDEO: The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison ...

courtesy of kalamu.com

 

[Christmas, the day after, in 2004, following the presidential re-election of George W. Bush.]

I am staring out of the window in an extremely dark mood, feeling helpless. Then a friend, a fellow artist, calls to wish me happy holidays. He asks, “How are you?” And instead of “Oh, fine — and you?”, I blurt out the truth: “Not well. Not only am I depressed, I can’t seem to work, to write; it’s as though I am paralyzed, unable to write anything more in the novel I’ve begun. I’ve never felt this way before, but the election…” I am about to explain with further detail when he interrupts, shouting: “No! No, no, no! This is precisely the time when artists go to work — not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!”

I felt foolish the rest of the morning, especially when I recalled the artists who had done their work in gulags, prison cells, hospital beds; who did their work while hounded, exiled, reviled, pilloried. And those who were executed.

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

Read the entire essay HERE.

Understanding White Privilege

Understanding White Privilege

What Is White Privilege? Privilege, particularly white or male privilege, is hard to see for those of us
who were born with access to power and resources. It is very visible for those to whom privilege was not
granted. Furthermore, the subject is extremely difficult to talk about because many white people don’t feel powerful or as if they have privileges others do not. It is sort of like asking fish to notice water or birds to discuss air.

For those who have privileges based on race or gender or class or physical ability or sexual orientation, or age, it just is- it’s normal. The Random House Dictionary (1993) defines privilege as “a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.” In her article, “White Privilege and Male Privilege,” Peggy McIntosh (1995) reminds us that those of us who are white usually believe that privileges are “conditions of daily experience… [that are] universally available to everybody.” Further, she says that what we are really talking about is “unearned power conferred systematically” (pp. 82-83)

Read the entire article here.

Environmental Racism Is the New Jim Crow

 7 videos   Video by The Atlantic

African Americans face disproportionate rates of lead poisoning, asthma, and environmental harm. Staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II argues that discrimination in public planning is to blame. “Pollution and the risk of disaster are assigned to black and brown communities through generations of discrimination and political neglect,” says Newkirk II. The environment is a system controlled and designed by people—“and people can be racist.”

Watch the videos here.

With Integrated Schools Out Of Reach, Segregated Options Gain Favor

Imperfect Choices: With Integrated Schools Out Of Reach, Segregated Options Gain Favor

Connecticut’s network of regional magnet schools, long hailed as a national model for voluntary integration, still serve only a fraction of Hartford students a generation after their racial isolation was deemed unconstitutional. And those magnets, slipping in their effort to meet racial quotas after the 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill ruling, are now quietly tilting admission preferences to favor white suburbanites, even as thousands of black and Latino students are left out.

That leaves two public-school options for families desperate for a way out: Open Choice, a $35 million-a-year Sheff program that buses Hartford students to predominantly white suburban schools, and taxpayer-funded charters that are the most segregated schools in the state.

Neither option meets the ideals of integrated education, where robust numbers of blacks, whites and Latinos learn side-by-side. But in a world of imperfect solutions, Hartford families are flocking to choices where integration is absent — or actively spurned.  Read more here.

 

WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM

TROUBLED SCHOOLS ON TRIAL: FIRST OF SEVEN STORIES

WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM

Struggling to cope with past sexual abuse and a mother who works long hours at a low-wage job, Alex regularly breaks down while at school.

The screaming, crawling and crying of this 5-year-old at North Windham Elementary School – and the arrival of an ambulance when he sometimes begins to hurt himself – are disruptions that make it hard to keep other students focused.

“It’s a continued struggle to survive emotionally,” said Catina Cabán-Owen, the only social worker at her school of 466 students. “This child does not have the support, because the mother cannot provide it.”

Alex, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy, is watched by a neighbor while his mother works. His father is not around.

A student walks by one of the many boarded up houses in an impoverished neighborhood in Hartford on the way to school.

While Alex’s struggle is extreme, his basic story – a student living in poverty who needs help coping with trauma – is common. He is among many students for whom poverty creates or exacerbates obstacles to learning. Read more here. 

John Lewis Accepts National Book Award

Image result for john lewis goodwin college

 

John Lewis Accepts National Book Award With Emotional Speech

As a teenager, the congressman wasn’t even allowed to get a library card because of his race.

Emily Tate Politics Intern, The Huffington Post 

In a powerful acceptance speech at the National Book Awards ceremony Wednesday night, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) recalled how far he had come to receive the honor.  “And I remember in 1956, when I was 16 years old, some of my brothers and sisters and cousins going down to the public library, trying to get library cards,” Lewis said, clutching his award. “And we were told that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds.”

On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart

 

 

maine trip7

On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart

About four-in-ten blacks are doubtful that the U.S. will ever achieve racial equality

Many blacks are skeptical that the country will eventually make the changes necessary for racial equality

Almost eight years after Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president –an event that engendered a sense of optimism among many Americans about the future of race relations1 – a series of flashpoints around the U.S. has exposed deep racial divides and reignited a national conversation about race. A new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white adults in their views on racial discrimination, barriers to black progress and the prospects for change.

Read more here.  For the interactive article, click here.

Muhammad Ali

MuhammadAli

Photo source: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/muhammad- ali

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was an American former heavyweight champion boxer and one of the greatest sporting figures of the 20th century. An Olympic gold medalist and the first fighter to capture the heavyweight title three times, Ali won 56 times in his 21-year professional career. Ali’s outspokenness on issues of race, religion and politics made him a controversial figure during his career, and the heavyweight’s quips and taunts were as quick as his fists. Born Cassius Clay Jr., Ali changed his name in 1964 after joining the Nation of Islam. Citing his religious beliefs, he refused military induction and was stripped of his heavyweight championship and banned from boxing for three years during the prime of his career. Parkinson’s syndrome severely impaired Ali’s motor skills and speech, but he remained active as a humanitarian and goodwill ambassador. Read more.

When Christians Won’t Say #BlackLivesMatter

When Christians Won’t Say #BlackLivesMatter

Kevin Wright    Kevin Wright currently serves as the Minister of Education at The Riverside Church in the City of New York

…[M]any Christians hesitate or refuse to say #BlackLivesMatter when one would think that their affinity for a marginalized Jewish man who preached a message of good news for the oppressed would usher them to support such a call for justice.

The theologian Howard Thurman identified this tension in his book, Jesus and the Disinherited. Thurman describes how the Sadducees (an upper class in Jesus’ day laden with privilege and economic security) were astute enough to see that their own position could be perpetuated if they stood firmly against all “revolutionaries and radicals.” In other words, when given the choice between retaining their privilege or standing with the oppressed, they chose the former.

Read more here.