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Aline Black Hicks: Black Educator Who Fought For Pay Equity

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Aline E. Black Hicks was born in 1906 in Norfolk, Virginia. She attended Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (later Virginia State University). Hicks then began working in the local school system as a science teacher in 1924. She later obtained a master of science degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1935. At the time, teaching salaries for black educators were significantly lower than that of white teachers. Hicks volunteered to bring suit against the State of Virginia to pursue higher pay for black educators. According to the petition, black high school teachers received a minimum annual salary of $699 up to a maximum annual salary of $1,105. In comparison, white high school teachers received a minimum annual salary of $970 up to a maximum of $1,900. 

The suit resulted from The Norfolk Teachers Association and the Virginia State Teachers Association joining forces with the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People to challenge the pay inequity between Black and White teachers as being a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thurgood Marshall, who would later become a supreme court justice, was one of the attorneys representing Hicks. The case was dismissed in 1939. An appeal was then filed on Hicks’s behalf. She was fired by the district in retaliation for filing suit. Her appeal was denied because she was no longer an employee. Hicks moved out of the area following her termination. 

Undeterred, the legal team sought another black teacher willing to bring suit. Melvin O. Alston took Hicks’s place as a plaintiff. A new suit was filed in 1940. This case was also dismissed. Another appeal was then filed. On appeal, the federal appeals court ruled against the City of Norfolk; siting that its policies were discriminatory. The City refused to increase the salaries of its black teachers and appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that teacher pay was protected by the fourteenth amendment and sent the case back to the lower courts. 

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The John Henryism Effect: Exploring How Racial Oppression Creates Adverse Health Outcomes

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The legend of John Henry takes place in the 1800s. Henry is a Black American railroad worker pitted in a contest of man against machine. His job was to hammer metal rods into rocks to prepare them for explosion. A steam-powered drill had been developed to replace the manual hammering process typically done by railroad workers. Henry accepted a challenge to prove that he could “beat” the machine; as it threatened his livelihood and that of other railroad workers. John Henry beat the machine despite the odds but later died from the stress and exhaustion of overexerting himself. His story has been chronicled in books and films.

Epidemiologist Sherman James coined the term John Henryism to describe adverse health outcomes and disparities experienced by Black Americans due to racial oppression. James initially became interested in studying the possible correlation between adverse health outcomes and racial oppression in the 1970s.   During that time, he encountered a black man named John Henry Martin. His life paralleled John Henry’s in many ways, including sharing the same first and middle name. Martin was a farmer who battled racial oppression and inequities in the rural south of the U.S. during the 20th century. He was born into an impoverished family. His formal education ended after second grade when he began working to help support his family. Martin taught himself to read and write. By the time he was 40 years old, he owned 75 acres of land in North Carolina. Martin worked tirelessly to pay off his farm loan debt within 5 years. Though he accomplished his goal of owning property and paying off his farm loan; the stress significantly impacted his health. By the time he reached his 50’s he had suffered from high blood pressure, arthritis, and peptic ulcer disease. The peptic ulcer disease was so significant 40% of his stomach was surgically removed.

Continue reading “The John Henryism Effect: Exploring How Racial Oppression Creates Adverse Health Outcomes”

Internalized Oppression vs. Appropriated Oppression

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When people are oppressed they can come to believe (internalize) the stereotypes, negativity, and myths about their identity communicated by the dominant group; at times even embracing the oppressive treatment as being normal, deserved, or inevitable.  If an oppressed person begins to believe the inferiority imposed upon them by the dominant they have internalized that oppression.  In recent years, there has been a shift away from referring to oppression as “internalized” because it places the blame of oppression on the marginalized individual or group rather than the dominant group. 

Psychologist, Dr. Kira Banks has sparked our interest in thinking about oppression as being appropriated rather than internalized. This perspective helps us see internalized oppression NOT as an internal process but rather an external one.  Appropriation takes place when someone adopts or borrows something from another culture or group.  Thinking about oppression as being appropriated presents those experiencing oppression with a choice.  Recognizing that we have a choice gives us power! Rather than just accepting the views of the dominant group, appropriation presents us with the opportunity to decide if we want to adopt or take on the ideas or expectations of the dominant group as being representative of our personal identities, abilities, or experiences. 

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Cancer Culture:  How Structural Racism & Cancer is Attacking The Black Community

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Let’s talk about CANCER Culture! Black Americans have the highest death rate and lowest survival rates of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers. These numbers are also alarming when considering that about 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths are preventable.

Cancer is a set of diseases resulting from abnormal cells’ uncontrolled growth. Death can result if these diseased cells’ spread cannot be controlled. According to the American Cancer Association, About 224,080 new cancer cases and 73,680 cancer deaths are expected to occur among Black people in 2022. The causes of cancer are not fully understood. We do know that many factors are known to increase risk. We also know that many risk factors are modifiable/preventable (Example:  tobacco use and excess body weight). Approximately 1 in 3 black people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. About 1 in 5 Black men and 1 in 6 Black women will die from cancer. This data is alarming. There is also concern regarding how COVID-19 will potentially increase health disparities amongst communities of color, including possible increased cancer diagnosis and cancer-related deaths due to disruptions in screening and treatment related to the pandemic. It will take years to understand the impact of COVID 19 in this regard.

This post will share eight ways cancer is impacting Black communities. This information and more data can be found on the American Cancer Society website https://www.cancer.org

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Florinda Soriano Munoz, “Mama Tingo”: Afro-Latina Farmers Rights Activist

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Mamá Tingó: “la tierra es de quien la siembra, por eso esta tierra es mía”  - CDN - El Canal de Noticias de los Dominicanos
Florinda Soriano Munoz “Mama Tingo”
(1921 – 1974)

Florinda Soriano Munoz (1921 – 1974) “Mama Tingo”, was a farmers rights activist in the Hato Viejo region of the Dominican Republic.  Her efforts aided over 300 families in reclaiming farmland confiscated illegally by a wealthy landowner. Friends gave her the name “Mama Tingo” because of her motherly tendencies.  She was born into a farming family.  Her mother’s name was Bonificacia Munoz, and her father’s name was Eusebio Aquio Soriano.  She became an orphan at the age of 5 and was raised by her grandmother.  She had no formal education and lived in poverty.  In 1951, she married a man named Felipe, who was a farmer.  The couple had one son, Domingo.  Mama Tingo began to advocate for farmers and their families in the Hato Viejo region who were losing farming land held for generations in their families.  The land was being confiscated illegally by a wealthy landowner, Pablo Diaz Hernandez.  Hernandez often used violent tactics against farmers.

Continue reading “Florinda Soriano Munoz, “Mama Tingo”: Afro-Latina Farmers Rights Activist”

Understanding The Impact Of Racial Trauma

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The wounds of racial trauma have deeply impacted people of color both individually and collectively. The word “trauma” is literally derived from a root word that means “wound” or “injury”. Racial Trauma is the manifestation of harm and injury that people of color experience. The Racial Trauma infographic shared in this blog post provides a definition of racial trauma and then highlights 4 ways that racial trauma impacts people of color.

Officers Of Color Barred From Guarding Derek Chauvin, Former Officer Charged With Killing George Floyd – Lawsuit Alleges

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Eight officers of color filed a racial discrimination suit on February 9, 2021, stating that they were barred from guarding the former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with the death of George Floyd.  Officers state they were reassigned to work on other floors within the jail so that they would not come into contact with Chauvin.  Court documents indicate the officers identifying as African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and mixed-race were “segregated and prevented from doing their jobs by defendant solely because of the color of their skin”.  Officers also stated that Chauvin received special treatment from a white lieutenant. 

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after video footage recorded May 25, 2021, showed him placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes, during which time Floyd repeatedly stated that he could not breathe.  Attorney for the eight officers, Lucas Kaster said, “When Officer Chauvin arrived, they were prepared to do the jobs they had done every single day up to that point, until, that is, Superintendent Lydon’s order prevented them from doing so.”

Attorney Kaster also stated, “The impact on our clients has been immense. They’re deeply humiliated and distressed, and the bonds necessary within the high-stress and high-pressure environment of the ADC have been broken,”  The lawsuit asserts that Superintendent Lydon gave orders that all officers of color were not allowed to guard Chauvin or have any interaction with him, or even to be on the same floor where he was being held.  Attorney Kaster describes the officers as being “extremely upset and offended.” Devin Sullivan, one of the plaintiffs states in court documents that he was in the midst of patting down Chauvin when he was told to stop by Superintendent Lydon and then was replaced by a white officer.  

Continue reading “Officers Of Color Barred From Guarding Derek Chauvin, Former Officer Charged With Killing George Floyd – Lawsuit Alleges”

Before The Montgomery Bus Boycott There Was The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott

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Baton Rouge

On June 15, 1953, the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott occurred. It was the first Black bus boycott in in the U.S. Years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the black residents of Baton Rouge took a stand against racism and segregation. In 1950, the city began to require all residents to use segregated public bussing. Prior to this, black residents utilized black-owned public transportation and required all residents to use the city’s public transportation which enforced segregated seating. Black residents had to sit at the back half of the bus or stand, even if seats in the “white” section were empty. Black passengers comprised 80% of bus passengers and were fed up with standing up on buses while “white” seats remained empty, particularly after the company had raised fares from ten to fifteen cents in January 1953. Continue reading “Before The Montgomery Bus Boycott There Was The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott”

Location, Location, Location:  The Cost of Racism for Businesses In Black Neighborhoods

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location

Using data from online consumer business ratings, researchers have now been able to quantify the dollar value impact on revenue growth for businesses located in black neighborhoods.  The research suggests that businesses in black neighborhoods face a negative stigma because of their location within black communities. The stigma centers around businesses being considered as less capable, having less quality, etc.

“Five-star Reviews, One-Star Profits:  The Devaluation of Businesses In Black Communities”  is a new report released by the Brookings Institution on February 18, 2020, looks at businesses in black neighborhoods that are highly rated in online reviews. The research looked at Yelp ratings of businesses. Yelp is an online platform that allows consumers to rate businesses and share feedback. 

According to the Brookings Institution data, businesses in black neighborhoods that are highly rated by customers using the Yelp platform experience a significantly lower rate of revenue growth than businesses not located in black neighborhoods.  The report indicates that the unrealized revenue equates to approximately $3.9 billion in lost revenue annually for businesses with high ratings located in black neighborhoods. According to Brookings Institution lead researcher Andre Perry, “These businesses in black neighborhoods that have high ratings should experience higher revenue growth, but they are not.”  He goes on to also say, “Our model shows that it’s the concentration of blackness in the neighborhood that correlates with the lack of revenue growth. Continue reading “Location, Location, Location:  The Cost of Racism for Businesses In Black Neighborhoods”

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