Monday, July 24, 2017

2017 ‘Ain’t I A Woman’ Black Women March and Black Women's Equal Pay Day

On July 19, 2017, organizers gathered for the "Ain't I a Woman?" Black Women's March in Sacramento, CA. The name comes from a famous speech by African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth (1797-1883). She will debut on the new $10 bill with other leading women suffragists--Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Other prominent African American women heroes who will appear on U.S. currency include Marian Anderson ($5 bill) and Harriet Tubman ($20).

More than 1,500 people gathered on Saturday to participate in a black women’s rights march in Sacramento. he march was organized by Black Women United (BWU), a non-profit organization “dedicated to the education, protection, and advancement of Black women.” BWU, founded in February, came up with the “Ain’t I A Woman” march as a way to include black women more in today’s women’s rights movement. Although the Black Women's Roundtable were among the guest speakers at the January Women's March, many black women felt the event minimized black women's issues. The event was intended to uplift and empower black women while highlighting the multitude of issues affecting them. Organizers created the event to fill a void they felt was left by the Women’s March in January.

Unfortunately, this perception is not uncommon. The mainstream women's movement tends to focus on issues affecting white women--essentially ignoring black women's unique needs and lived experiences. Gender issues often overlook racial disparities that affect black women. The National Domestic Workers Alliance recently released a report, The Status of Black Women in the United States, which stated from its website:
Black women are integral to the well-being of their families, their communities and the nation as a whole. Through their work, entrepreneurship, caregiving, political participation, and more, Black women are creating opportunities for themselves, their loved ones, and improving the our economy and society. They have all the makings of what should be success, yet their contributions are undervalued and under compensated. Black domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because of the ways in which racial disparities, gender discrimination, and immigration status serve to further marginalize and disempower the very people who power our economy and push our democracy to be the best that it can be. Whether one examines Black women’s access to healthcare, earnings, or access to much needed social supports like childcare and eldercare, Black women are getting the short end of the stick, despite having contributed so much to the building of this nation.
In 1619, the first African Americans arrived in the United States on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia. Nearly 400 years later, African Americans have made substantial contributions that have shaped this nation culturally, economically, and politically. Most importantly, black women have been a very resilient and spiritual group in times of crises and setbacks. However, federal and state policymakers have undervalued and ignored the unique experiences of black women who are impacted by the double oppression of racism and sexism. Our efforts have been undervalued and underappreciated for too long. It is time for black women to bring to the forefront the barriers they face in child care and eldercare, education, employment, entrepreneurship, health care, housing, and retirement.

July 31st is Black Women's Equal Pay Day. Many Americans do not realize that the pay gap is even worse for black women. This pivotal event the day when black women catch to men in earnings - a staggering 20 months! According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), when black women earn 63 cents to every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns. In 2017, the Economic Policy Institute recently updated the statistic to 67 cents on the dollar. Learn more information about the gender pay gap in the United States and how you can join the upcoming Twitter campaign at AAUW.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Emerging Number of Missing Black and Latina Girls Missing in Washington, DC

In March, The Congressional Black Caucus has contacted the Office of the Attorney General and the FBI to help in the search for missing black girls in the Washington, D.C., area, following an alarming string of missing children cases from the nation's capital.

Earlier this year, the Women’s March On Washington drew crowds that totaled close to 5 million attendees. Simultaneous marches were held in cities worldwide as women from all walks of life banded together to protest against various women’s issues from equal pay to reproductive rights, which have long been central to political debate.

But where were these women when DC’s town hall meeting to address missing black and latina girls was taking place? Nowhere in sight.



Where were the white women and other activists from the Women's March in January? Why isn't the national news networks bringing this issue up? Their silence reveals the hypocrisy of the women's movement: organized by affluent white women who do not care about the lives of ordinary black and brown girls. Women's rights has traditionally struggled with acknowledging the untold stories and lived experiences of women of color. Since no white woman showed up, it proves that white feminists can be racist towards causes that does not fit their dominant narrative.

Black women cannot depend on white women and mainstream feminists to save these girls. These missing girls need to be found, and we need all the manpower--including local, state and federal officials--to get to the bottom of this grave situation. If these young girls are victims of human and sex trafficking, I pray that they are found safely and in good health as soon as possible.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Georgetown Law Report: Black Girls Perceived as Less Innocent

Georgetown Law's Center on Poverty and Inequality released a disturbing report, Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood, which revealed that adults perceive black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than white girls of the same age (especially age 5 to 14). It expanded upon a 2014 study on adult perceptions of black boys. But the new study differs in how it examines adults' views of black girls and innocence.
Researchers surveyed 325 adults from various racial, educational and ethnic backgrounds from across the U.S. They used a scale of childhood innocence that included items associated with stereotypes of black women and girls. One survey asked about adults' perceptions of black girls, while another survey asked adults about their perceptions of white girls.

The new report concluded that adults surveyed thought:

  • Black girls seem older than white girls of the same age.
  • Black girls need to be supported less than white girls.
  • Black girls know more about adult topics than white girls.
  • Black girls need less protection than white girls.
  • Black girls know more about sex than white girls.
The report has several implications on the status of black women in the United States. If adults perceive black girls as needing less help, then adults will overlook the barriers that black girls often encounter in society. Black girls also face emotional and social challenges. Much of the adultification of black girls have to do with lingering negative stereotypes that depicted black women and girls as aggressive, defiant, loud, and oversexualized. Like black boys, black girls are not exempted from high suspension and expulsion rates. This fuels the school-to-prison pipeline problem which has blacks face a higher likelihood of incarceration than their white peers. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), black women are also more likely to have higher student loan debt than other races. The national conversation often depicts race from a black male perspective and gender from a white women's perspective. It is time for society to recognize how racism and sexism shapes the lived experiences of black women and girls. Black feminist scholars, such as Kimberle Crenshaw and Patricia Hills Collins, were pioneers in creating a body of literature that explained not only the importance of intersectionality but also the need for effective policy interventions that help black women financially provide for their families and save for retirement. Black girls deserve to have a normal childhood.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Baltimore Sun: De Facto Segregation Persists in Integrated Schools

As schools become more diverse, a lingering problem persists that inadvertently creates de facto segregation in the classroom. In a Baltimore Sun article, "Within integrated schools, de facto segregation persists", educators in a Howard County, Maryland school district have discovered that black students are less likely to be enrolled in honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses than their white peers. This sort of racialized tracking ensures that white students have greater access to educational resources and guidance counseling, increasing their chances of attending an elite college or university. school tracking is a controversial issue because it involves separating students by academic ability into groups for certain classes and curriculum within a school. Black students are disproportionately selected into regular (a.k.a. non-college-preparatory) and special education courses, which sends the message that they are not college material. Furthermore, black students miss out on gifted and talented programs, which provide many opportunities for cultural and social capital (particularly around their more affluent peers). De facto segregation in the classroom is not equal educational opportunity. Educators and policymakers must understand that enrolling more white and black students in the same school does not always lead to integrated classrooms.

School tracking can have disastrous effects on student learning and can lead to a poverty of learning particularly among black students. Click here (Education Week) and here (ASCD) for more information about tracking.

Howard County is the most integrated school district in the region, according to the Maryland Equity Project of the University of Maryland. Children of different races — especially those who are black and white — are more likely to sit next to each other in Howard than almost anywhere else in the state.

But within that diversity, school leaders have uncovered a de facto system of segregation.

Enrollment data obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request shows that the district's advanced classes — honors, gifted and talented, and AP — are disproportionately white, while the regular and remedial classes are disproportionately black.

I also highly recommend these scholarly articles if school tracking in K-12 education is of strong interest to readers:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Judge's family apologizes 160 years after Dred Scott decision

The famous landmark case, Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), declared that people of African descent, whether free or enslaved, were not American citizens and, therefore, had no legal standing to sue in federal court. The decision also ruled the Missouri Compromise as unconstitutional and thus prevented African Americans from pursuing freedom in states or territories where slavery had been abolished. The Dred Scott decision sparked heated discussions over the future expansion of slavery, the rise of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party, and eventually a civil war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Slavery was finally abolished first under the Emancipation Proclamation (1862) and the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), which overturned the Dred Scott decision.

According to the Atlanta Black Star, descendants of the Scott and Taney families will gather together at the Taney statue for a historic apology and to speak against its removal. They hope to inspire reconciliation with a proposal to erect statues of Dred Scott and Frederick Douglass standing in positions of dialogue with Chief Justice Taney, along with an educational display on the Dred Scott decision and its aftermath.

Most historians today agree that this ruling, or more accurately abomination, was one of the worst decisions ever decided in the Supreme Court's history. I hope that this formal apology is a first step to a greater discussion around truth and reconciliation regarding America's past with slavery. Americans need to make amends with its past over the issue of slavery. In addition to Georgetown, more prominent elite institutions such as Columbia and Harvard have begun to investigate its ties with slavery. Most importantly, we must not forget our history--even the painful facts--because future generations need to learn from the mistakes of the past.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – A family member of the chief justice who presided over the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision has apologized to the family of the slave who tried to sue for his freedom.

On Monday, the 160-year anniversary of the decision, Charles Taney IV of Greenwich, Connecticut, stood a few feet from a statue of his great-great-grand-uncle Roger Brooke Taney outside the Maryland State House and apologized for the decision, in which Roger Taney wrote that African-Americans could not have rights of their own and were inferior to white people. Roger Taney lived in Maryland.

"You can't hide from the words that Taney wrote," Taney said. "You can't run, you can't hide, you can't look away. You have to face them."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Social Work Month 2017: Social Workers Stand Up

The 2017 theme for Social Work Month is "Social Workers Stand Up."

From the National Association of Social Workers:

Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. These include people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, our veterans, children, families and communities. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society.

This year we will commemorate Social Work Month with a “Social Workers Stand Up!” campaign. This campaign will educate the public about the contributions of social workers and give social workers and their allies tools they can use to elevate the profession.

The 2017 theme for World Social Work Day is "Promoting Community and Environmental Stability."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Obama Should Have Done More for Black Americans

In November 2008, I watched the television screen as Barack Obama was elected as the first black president of the United States. His charismatic message of hope and change resonated with many Americans. I thought that maybe the most pressing problems facing black Americans will finally be addressed. The Great Recession of 2007-2008 had virtually wiped out the savings of most black households. No one in Detroit knew for sure if the American automotive industry (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) would survive.

Looking back eight years later, I had a lot of high expectations in Obama. However, I should have known that Obama could not reverse three centuries of racial discrimination in just eight years. Yet, I cannot help that a lot of the optimism and admiration that black Americans entrusted in Obama went unfulfilled. While my family dismissed my pessimism, I cringed when Obama preferred incremental policies that did not address the root of the problems that still plague black Americans: higher unemployment rate regardless of educational attainment than whites, stubbornly high poverty rate, a mass incarceration crisis, under-resourced public schools, and a widening racial wealth gap.

William A. Darity, Jr. explained so eloquently in his must-read The Atlantic op-ed: "Leaders who look like you do not necessarily act in ways that benefit you." Obama did more for immigrants and the LGBT community than blacks who desperately looked up to him as a savior to their plight in the inner city. His successor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, focused her campaign on three issues--women's rights (e.g., equal pay for equal work, family paid leave, and reproductive rights), amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and support for LGBT rights (including same-sex marriage)--that had little to do with combatting institutional and structural racism.

Many of Obama's executive orders did not help working-class Americans suffering from wage stagnation and free trade policies. Sure, the cost of gasoline is lower now but the cost of housing and health care premiums continues to increase exponentially. In addition, Obama was no friend to organized labor, having never met with the union leaders during his entire presidency. The Democratic national leadership failed to understand that a campaign focused primarily on political correctness and identity liberalism (race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality) runs the risk of ignoring the widening income inequality between the rich and the poor. America was turning into a serfdom society with a shrinking middle class and expanding working poor.

Nonetheless, I was delighted that Obama broke the color barrier in the U.S. presidency. This symbolic moment inspired so many black Americans to not lose hope on their native land. But I wished that Obama had done more to reduce the poverty rate in black communities, especially in Chicago. His leadership failed to provide blacks in the Midwestern cities with decent-paying jobs. Let us hope that President-elect Donald Trump delivers on his proposed pledge, the New Deal for Black America.