All Articles Tagged "African American women"

Still We Rise! The State Of Black Women In America Is A Mix Of Bad & Good News

April 3rd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Shutterstock

Every day, black women struggle with various issues from inadequate health care to inequality in pay. The Black Women’s Roundtable has issued a landmark report that examines all the major concerns of African-American women today. “Black Women in the United States, 2014″ was created to assess the overall conditions of black women in the U.S.

“Here we examine virtually the full spectrum of the black woman’s contemporary experience in America. And though, we find that on many accounts, significant progress has been made since key historical markers such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education, and the onset of the War on Poverty, there are many areas that remain in need of dire national attention and urgent action,” states the report.

Here are some of the key findings.

“I Eat White Dirt Every Day”: Documentary “Eat White Dirt” Exposes Southern African American Tradition

January 20th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Eat White Dirt

Eat White Dirt

Last week we reported the bizarre addiction a woman has to sniffing and chewing diapers. This week we’re starting the week off on a similar note, with a little known tradition of eating white dirt — which is actually a rock called kaolin — among African American women in the south.

According to Daily Mail, kaolin can be found along the Atlantic Coast Fall Line in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. The substance is used in medicine to treat diarrhea, dysentery and cholera and it can also be found in paper, paint, fiberglass, porcelains, china and toothpaste. While health officials don’t recommend kaolin for eating purposes, some have openly shared that it has health benefits.

Director Adam Forrester of the documentary Eat White Dirt came across this phenomenon known as geophagy — the practice of eating earthy or soil-like substances — while shopping at his local grocery store where he noticed small Ziploc bags of white chalky rocks. When he asked the sales clerk what the rocks were for, the clerk said he wasn’t sure but knew they were for eating purposes so Forrester decided to dig a little deeper.

Anthropologists believe the practice of eating kaolin derived from sub-Saharan African slaves who came to the United States during slavery. When Forrester interviewed several women for his documentary, most of whom live in rural areas, some revealed they eat white dirt every day. Tammy Wright, who is a part of the documentary, also stated by eating kaolin every day, she has lost over 60 pounds. Might be worth a thought, huh?

Eat White Dirt is set to premier this summer. Check out the trailer for the documentary below. What do you think?

EAT WHITE DIRT – trailer from Adam Forrester on Vimeo.

African-American Women In America Make Advancements In Education & Entrepreneurship, Struggle In Other Areas

December 3rd, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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The latest study by the Center for American Progress (CAP) takes a comprehensive look at the state of black women in America, analyzing African-American women and health, education, entrepreneurship, economic security, and political leadership. We are 13 percent of the female population in the United States, but still have major disparities in various aspects of our lives. Strides are being made, such as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the spread of paid sick leave. Under the ACA, about 5.1 million African-American women with private health insurance are currently receiving expanded preventive service coverage and an estimated three million African-American women will now have access to affordable or subsidized health insurance. Here’s a snapshot of what CAP found:

Health

One in four African-American women are uninsured.

  • More than any other group, African-American women suffer from hypertension: 46 percent of black women 20 years of age and older have hypertension; only 31 percent of white women and 29 percent of Hispanic women of the same age do.
  • White women may be more likely to have breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die from it. An average of five black women per day  (or 1,722 annually) succumb to breast cancer.
  • An incredible 65 percent of new AIDS diagnoses among women are African American.

Educational attainment

Although more African-American women pursue higher education, the numbers are still at a significantly lower level than that of white women.

  • In 2004,  the college graduation rate of African-American women was 24.1 percent and has not increased at the same rate as those of white women, Latinas, or Asian American women. Thirty percent of white women have a college degree.
  • Only two percent of African-American women are in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM;  women as a whole make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce.
  • “According to Census data about work-life earnings, white women make more than African American women among full-time, year-round workers, regardless of what degrees they have obtained,” reports the organization.

Entrepreneurship

Businesses owned by African-American women continue to grow despite significant financial and social obstacles.

  • “African American-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market and are starting up at a rate six times higher than the national average,” reports CAP.
  • The number of companies started by black women increased nearly 258 percent from 1997 to 2013.
  • In 2013 the number of black women-owned businesses was estimated at 1.1 million. This comprised an incredible 42 percent of businesses owned by women of color and 49 percent of all African American-owned businesses.
  • Businesses owned by black women employed 272,000 workers and generated $44.9 billion in revenue in 2013.
  • But of the top 10 fastest-growing private companies owned by black entrepreneurs from 2009 to 2012, just 27 percent were owned by black women.

Economic security

This is a major issue for African-American women as they continue to have higher rates of unemployment than white women and continue to have lower amounts of weekly usual earnings and median wealth in comparison to their male counterparts and white women.

  • According to the most current available data, African-American women only made 64 cents to the dollar compared to white, non-Hispanic men in 2010. White women, however, made 78.1 cents to the same dollar.
  • African-American women only earned $610 per week, whereas black men earned $666. White women’s median usual weekly earnings were $718 in the second quarter of 2013.
  • The rate of unemployment for African-American women was 181 percent more than that of white women in the second quarter of 2013. Black women had an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent versus to 5.8 percent for white women.

Political leadership

While black women have long been community leaders, they are underrepresented in all levels of government.

  • Only 14 of the 98 women in Congress are African American.
  • Of the 29 women of color now serving in the House of Representatives, 16 are black.
  • There is only one African-American female currently serving as mayor—Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore–in the nation’s top 100 cities.

How Are Black Women Doing in America? Here Are A Few Facts To Feed Your Curiosity

November 15th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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A new fact sheet delves into statistics about the big picture for African-American women from an educational and economic standpoint, Center for American Progress reports.

There is some good news! Among the black population, African-American women earned more than 50 percent of all degrees in the science and the engineering field. This figure far surpasses the degrees obtained by black men. But when we compare black women to the female population as a whole, this is where the bad news seeps in. Of all the bachelor’s degrees earned by women, African-American women only hold 8.6 percent of them.

Women in total make up about a quarter of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce — black women, in particular, only take up two percent of STEM employees.

But don’t let this piece of data discourage you! More black women are becoming their own bosses and turning to entrepreneurship. “African American-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market,” CAP adds. These businesses are sprouting up six-times higher than the national rate — between 1997 and 2013, businesses by African-American women grew 258 percent!

There are an estimated 1.1 million black women-owned businesses in America and all have generated a combined $44.9 billion in revenue and have employed 272,000 workers.

Unfortunately, for women who choose to be an employee rather than an employer, statistics do not emerge in their favor. Compared to white women and black men, African-American women continue to take home lower earnings — Caucasian women earned a median of $718 a week while black men earned $666; black women only earned $610 a week.

The unemployment rate isn’t looking too great either. About 11 percent of Black women are jobless while only six percent of white women are in the same boat. CAP also highlights the dramatic dichotomy in African-American income between single and married households: “Married or cohabiting African American households have a median wealth of $31,500 while single African American women have a median wealth of only $100. African American women with children, however, have zero median wealth.”

On a happier note though, CAP adds that teenage birth rates among Black women between 2011 and 2012 has plunged by seven percent.

In a nutshell, these statistics show that although black women have made significant steps in the right direction, the gender and racial disparities are still too conspicuous. There is still a disappointing lack of black female representation among STEM workers, politicians (only 14 black women in Congress), and high-income earners.

“This fact sheet provides a snapshot [...] that should guide our choices to enact sensible policies to unleash the potential of this growing demographic and benefit our economy,” CAP concludes.

HPV Vaccines Do Not Protect Against Strains Likely To Infect Black Women

October 29th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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HPV

Researchers found that the two cervical cancer vaccines that are recommended for all pre-teen boys and girls don’t protect against  the strains that will likely infect black women.

With 40 different strains of HPV, the virus which can lead to several different types of cancer, including cervical cancer, may be the most common Sexually Transmitted Infection. The CDC estimates that nearly 79 million Americans are infected with HPV right now with 14 million contracting it every year. Apparently, virtually everyone who is sexually active gets infected with at least one strain of the virus at least once in their lives. Typically, the body can fight it off but sometimes it damages cells which can ultimately cause cancer.

The fact that the commercial vaccines don’t protect against the strains most likely to infect African American women, has raised questions about the adequate representation of minorities in research for new drugs and vaccines.

Research shows that genetics play a significant role in how people respond to treatments and the type of viruses passed from person to person can vary based on ethnic and social groups.

Catherine Hoyo, an associate professor in Duke University’s obstetrics and gynecology department told NBC News, “It looks like we have different strains by race.”

Of the 516 women Hoyo and her team studied, more than 70 percent of the women had HPV infections. Most had more than one strain. White women had the most common strains: HPV 16, 18, 31, and 45. African American women were more likely to have HPV 33, 35, 58 and 68.

According to Hoyo’s research, African American women were half as likely to carry HPV 18, the strain that is found in both commercial vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil protects against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 and Cervarix protects against 16 and 18.

Not only are the strains different, according to Hoyo, “African American women are about 20 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and almost twice as likely to die from the disease compared to non-Hispanic white women.”

Gardasil is in the final stages of developing a new HPV vaccine that will protect against 9 different strains of HPV. It will add HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58– two more of the most common strains infecting African American women.

Source

Melissa Harris-Perry And Kenya Moore Debate The State of African-American Womanhood and Negative Images On Reality TV

July 8th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: MSNBC

Source: MSNBC

I think that most of us can agree that reality TV has somewhat of a negative impact on how women of color are portrayed in the media, but just how much of an impact is debatable. During the Essence Music Festival, MSNBC’s Lean Forward host, Melissa Harris-Perry sat down with Issa Rae, Kenya Moore, Tonya Lewis-Lee and The Grio’s Joy Reid. During the chat, the ladies touched on the never-ending discussion about the relationship between reality TV and it’s relationship with detrimental images of Black women and things got fairly interesting, as the ladies shared their varying views.

“Kenya, you take all kinds of criticism and so I appreciate you being here, in part because I despise like positive vs. negative. I’m more interested in complicated. So tell the complicated story,” Harris-Perry said, offering Kenya an opportunity to share her stance on the debate.

Never being who is short on words, Kenya jumped right in.

“I think with our show, we are the number one show on the Bravo network and that’s for a reason. When people Black, White, Asian watch our show, when women watch our show, they identify with the women that they’re seeing. They’re mothers, they’re women, they’re married, in relationships. You show them in everyday circumstances dealing with their problems and trying to navigate their lives. That’s what women identify with. It’s not neceserrily the negative aspect, although we do see some of that… That’s what they’re tuning in for, to see what everyday life looks like.”

Melissa went on to discuss how stereotypes portrayed on television by African-American reality TV stars stain the images of everyday Black women in the minds of society.

“People who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones,” Kenya responded. “No one’s life is perfect. I don’t see Jesus walking around here. So we all have those moments, but those moments aren’t captured on television. I think that’s the difference. Our show is a reality show and with that you open yourself up to those vulnerable aspects of your life.”

Turn the page to check out footage from the discussion. Do you tune into reality shows because of the reliability of the cast?

Serious Question: Should Separate Ethnic Haircare Aisles Be Removed From Businesses?

June 14th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

 

In recent years, Black hair has become a constant target to be debated. It seems everyone has taken a class on Black Hair 101 and feels entitled to speak on what is and isn’t acceptable for a Black woman and her mane.

When I read an article on Uptown that stated there no longer needs to be separate hair care aisles for women, I became annoyed. The term: “separate, but equal” is uncomfortable for American society because of the historical baggage it carries. Institutions being separate, but equal never made logical sense, but when it comes to hair it does. Hair is cultural. When it comes to beauty, there are many different practices each ethnic group was raised with, influenced by cultural ideals as well as hair texture. Instead of an all-inclusive approach, as the one outlined in “Why the Separation Of ‘Ethnic’& ‘Normal’ Haircare Aisles Is Unnecessary,” I question the motive which is so obviously underlined by a glamorizing of Eurocentric beauty standards. The author states:

“I used to watch the Herbal Essences commercials in jealousy. There were all of these women of European decent flinging their hair in the shower and acting as if it was the most orgasmic experience on God’s green Earth. I’d look in the mirror to see tresses that didn’t pass my ear and think: ‘When are they going to make products for me?’ Not realizing, that “their” aisle was “my” aisle. Haircare, like skincare, depends on the type of hair, not ethnicity of the person. Yes, there are African-American women whose hair craves moisture and deep conditioning, but there are also African-American women whose hair is oily and requires more cleansing than conditioning – a trait usually attributed to white women or women with a looser curl pattern.”

There is a difference between using hair products because of hair texture and not celebrating Black products or hair styling because it does not reflect a mainstream hair care brand or image. When I was younger I loved braiding or blowing out my hair because the products used would have the “Proud Lady” emblem. The “Proud Lady” was an indication to the consumer that the product used was created by a Black-owned hair company and it made me feel proud to support people who understood my hair journey as a Black girl and now, woman. According to Luster Products Inc. “The Proud Lady is the symbol of AHBAI [The American Health and Beauty Aids Institute] member companies, which appears on the back of all their products. This symbol assures consumers that the product was manufactured by a stronger Black America. I believe in that more than I do any woman nearly achieving the big O all because of a shampoo.

I do believe the labels of “normal” and “ethnic” when it comes to hair care product distinctions in stores are troubling. The language suggest an “us versus them” dynamic or that ethnic is synonymous with other and not representative of the majority of society. Those are identity issues we witness across the board in the Western hemisphere though. Eliminating hair care products won’t exactly fix that problem, although the author of the Uptown piece believes it could be a first step. I do agree with one point that was made when she writes:

“With more education of one’s health and hair, the more we realize that the “separate but equal” aisle for hair care is completely unnecessary. The ingredients needed for healthy hair are cross-cultural – moisturizers, cleansers, conditioners, protein, sealants, and humectants. Texture and porosity dictate the ratio of the ingredients we need to promote healthy hair.”

It’s true, healthy hair has nothing to do with race. It’s also not a problem if Motions is placed next to Pantene Pro-V on a store shelf. But my question is what are the gains and losses of blending the “ethnic” and “normal” aisle, together.  Will businesses carry the hair care brands you grew to use love or will they be scarcely stocked based on inventory and demographic-consumer need? Men lie, women lie but numbers and your hair not being laid don’t.

We Know Black Don’t Crack! Allure Survey Finds Black Women Believe They Age The Best

March 20th, 2013 - By madamenoire
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Apega/WENN.com

Apega/WENN.com

From BlackVoices

We’ve all heard and seen shining examples of the age-old adage, “black don’t crack.”

Thanks to good genes, lots of ultraviolet ray-shielding melanin, natural oils and some say the grace of God — many black folk enjoy a youthful appearance way past the age others start to experience winkles, age spots and sagging skin.

Well, that notion was part of Allure’s first-ever anti-aging survey in the April 2013 issue, and the results show that most African Americans do indeed celebrate their age-defying looks.

The monthly publication polled 2,000 women and men on the modern perception of aging attitudes and behaviors. The survey yielded interesting insights about sex (it gets better as you get older), the ideal age (everyone wants to be 31) and going gray (we’re not fans), to name a few. And when it comes to which ethnicity thinks they age the best? African Americans have that in the bag.

Get the exact results and more on BlackVoices.com.

Rough Weekend: Toni Braxton Hospitalized For Lupus Issues

December 9th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Source: WENN

We’ve known that Toni Braxton has been dealing with a host of health problems and last Thursday, she let everyone know she was hospitalized as a result of her fight with Lupus.

No one was aware but as big Toni fans tend to always reach out to her on social media asking about her health, she tweeted:

“Hey guys, I’m in the hospital for health issues related to Lupus & Blood clots, I will be home soon…Thanks for all the love&support! Xoxo”

A spokesperson did confirm the hospitalization but didn’t offer too many details. Thankfully, Toni tweeted again on Saturday (when there’s nothing else to do in the hospital, it might be better to play on the phone – don’t judge her) saying:

“Going home today! I have a nurse coming to the house for a couple days, maybe I can sneak out & see Diezel’s 1st play ‘A Mid Summers Dream’.”

Slow your roll, Mama Toni, and get better. If you’ve ever seen her family’s show Braxton Family Values, you’ve probably seen how Lupus tends to really slow Toni down and she’s often confined to serious bed rest.  Hopefully, she’ll follow her doctor’s orders and allow her nurse to help her.

Feel better, Toni, and we continue to wish you the best on your recovery.

Oh, Mama: Latham Thomas Brings The Sassy Back For Pregnant Women With Mama Glow

December 5th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Image via @MamaGlow_MGFF

While there’s a plethora of products geared to the millions of women who get pregnant every year, there’s a surprisingly low number of items created with a holistic approach. Latham Thomas founded Mama Glow to fill that void. A holistic lifestyle hub for women to explore their creativity, Thomas released a new book last month, also called Mama Glow, on pregnancy and wellness.

Alicia Keys, Tonya Lewis Lee, Veronica Webb, Rebecca Walker, and Karyn Parsons have all endorsed the book, which includes tips to help reduce stress, covers birth plans, labor coaches, and midwives, has recipes for homemade pampering treats like coffee sugar scrub, and even includes a postpartum wellness planMaybe the Duchess of Cambridge could use a copy?

We talked to Thomas about how every pregnant woman can get her Mama Glow on.

Madame Noire: What made you want to launch Mama Glow?

Latham Thomas: Mama Glow is a movement born out of necessity. I saw a gap in hip holistic lifestyle and pregnancy market and I wanted to put the “hot mama glow” back into women’s health. I wanted to offer women a safe haven to explore nutrition, yoga, and birth doula services all under one roof, and create a platform for maternal advocacy while doing so. Mama Glow was born.  I was pregnant with my son and wanted to provide services that I thought should have been readily available to me during that precious time.

MN:  How did you fund the startup?

LT: I started Mama Glow with my own money. I don’t wait for anything. I am a single mother and know a lot of moms probably feel daunted by finding the resources to fund their dreams. But the truth is when you really commit to that mission, the connections, resources, money, and angels come in to help facilitate your goals. Keep the faith; God is my business partner.

MN: What were some of the obstacles you faced with starting Mama Glow?

LT: My biggest challenge is time management, still. I want to do it all and there are a mere 24 hours in a day. I have support luckily.

MN: Tell us about the book?

LT: Mama Glow is a comprehensive go-to guide for a balanced lifestyle that will have you looking and feeling your most radiant for the next nine months and beyond. It’s divided into sections — In the Kitchen, On The Mat, and In Your Life — that address food, movement, and self-care practices to get your glow on.

MN:  Do you feel African-American moms are overlooked as a market?

LT: I think we collectively have not claimed our health as a priority. Statistically black women suffer disproportionately from cancers [like] breast and ovarian, diabetes, heart disease, [and] obesity. The market caters to what people decide is of relevance. If we don’t spend our money on health-related products and services they won’t be directly marketed towards us.

MN: What do you think are some of the major concerns for African-American moms?

LT: I think health concerns are a risk for our community and what I typically see across the board are fibroid tumors, which I address in Mama Glow. I offer a cleanse program to get your body baby-ready. This is something we need to think about. Stress and poor diet are major factors for reproductive challenges.

MN:  Any new developments for Mama Glow?

LT: We have a new partnership with Morgan Stanley so will be launching two exciting new iterations of our Mama Glow initiatives — The Mama Glow Icon Gala and The Mama Glow Film Festival — for 2013. I will launch a consumer products division and develop some TV opportunities.

MN: What is your favorite thing about being an African-American mom?

LT: I am born of a legacy of strong women. We all are. I love being Fulano’s mama. When my son climbs into bed to cuddle in the middle of the night, I’m reminded that even though he’s 4 foot 6” tall, he is still a little boy and will always be my little angel.

And for more on the topic of maternal health and pregnancy, check out a recent story Madame Noire Business published here.

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