All Articles Tagged "african americans"
Welcome to another installment of “Behind The Click”, the longest-running profile series on African-American females contributing to the tech game. Meet Amber Allen who is the founder and head of a communications agency called Nella House. I recently had the pleasure of meeting her after one of my recent digital-speaking engagements in Washington, D.C. Her energy and achievements just screamed a “Behind The Click” inclusion, so here she is.
Current Occupation: Principal and independent consultant at Nella House
Favorite website: www.yellowtrace.com
Favorite read: Entrepreneur magazine
Recent reads: Champagne and Real Pain by Maggie Nolan
Some of My Best Friends Are Black by Tanner Colby
Stieg Larsson: The Real Story of the Man Who Played with Fire by Jan-Erik Petterson
The Secular Monastery by John Steinbruner
Quote that inspires you: “Be fearful of mediocrity.”
Twitter handle: @ambitiousamber
LdC: I read in your bio that you attended Spelman College. How did you come to select that school?
AA: I traveled a lot when I was a child, but I stake my claim to my hometown of Stafford, Virginia – a small suburb outside of Washington, D.C.
I selected Spelman College for two reasons: I wanted the HBCU experience – an experience that I thought would be unique and quite different from anything I had experienced before (and I really did fall in love with the school when I walked on campus); and I really wanted to be in Atlanta (I had relatives there, loved the entertainment scene, and I was aware that African Americans were really excelling in the city).
LdC: What lead you to pursue a Masters at Georgetown?
AA: Spelman gave me a first-rate education, and unforgettable cultural experience, and it is where I matured and met my “life friends.” I can go on and on about my school because I really believe and know that Spelman equipped me with career, cultural, and intellectual tools that are unique to the Spelman experience.
I heard about the public relations and corporate communications program at Georgetown through one of my best friends. She and I were both in that rather interesting phase of trying to transition from liberal arts degree-holders to corporate career climbers. We both recognized the need to take our publicity and event planning experience as student leaders and formalize it in the classroom… with an attractive degree. The program was amazing, had amazing professors, and in its first year (in which I was a part) was nominated by PRWeek.
LdC: So I know from there you went on to land a gig as press secretary for the American Security Project? What was that like?
AA: Working as press secretary for ASP was a hard, but rewarding, job. I recommend press secretary-ish positions for anyone seriously considering a career in communications. I was responsible for directing and implementing comms strategies and products for an entire organization with a lean team. ASP tackled issues of national security, from nuclear security to climate change, so it was a cerebral job that necessitated taking all that complex, wonky info and distilling it for public (and media) consumption.
Salon.com has published a story called “Can the Black Middle Class Survive?” that doesn’t so much answer the question as paint a scary picture for why we should be concerned enough to ask it in the first place.
The author, Steven Gray, who previously worked for TIME magazine, points out that in 1999, “for the first time, more than half of black Americans were considered ‘middle class.’” According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate for African Americans had fallen to an all-time low of 22.5 percent. But just a few years later, the housing crisis was taking shape, with even well-off African Americans falling prey to subprime mortgages, which has caused many to lose their homes or put their homeownership in jeopardy.
“If current trends persist, soon, barely 40 percent of African-Americans will be considered ‘middle class,’ and by 2042, the average black family will earn only 61 cents for every dollar earned by whites,” he writes.
He takes a bit of a tangential turn into his personal story of working and then not working for TIME to make the point that one million black workers lost their jobs across industries including construction, healthcare and manufacturing. Moreover, African Americans represent a small percentage of workers in some industries or are the newcomers in others, making it hard to break through in certain areas. This lessens already tight employment opportunities.
All of this comes to his point that blacks had a growing but weak hold on the middle class and both economic and cultural forces are sweeping that away. If you’ve read the article, what do you think of Gray’s argument?
Unemployment is a hot button issues for the current Presidential election. So BET News decided to poll a group of African Americans in various swing states to see just what the black community thinks about (the lack of) jobs. The results were somewhat surprising.
Despite the fact that the unemployment rate for African Americans remains high, blacks are more concerned about wages than job opportunities. People were polled in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Thirty-eight percent of blacks are more worried about their salary and wages keeping up with the cost of living than finding employment and being laid off, which ranked as the third most significant concern. The second biggest concern after wages was healthcare; 24 percent said they needed affordable healthcare.
The poll also found that 77 percent think the economy is stabilizing and getting better and 61 percent said that their personal finances have improved. Only seven percent say their financial situation has gotten worse.
The economic background of the African Americans polled varied, from college graduates living in integrated neighborhoods (13 percent) to seniors (27 percent) and families (31 percent), who were most concerned about college education cost and value issues. Two percent of those polled voiced support for Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. The poll found too that 92 percent said they plan to vote in November; only four percent claimed to be less interested in this election than in 2008.
The poll was conducted by Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies for BET News. What are you most concerned with?
The Rundown: Racially-Charged Incident at the GOP Convention, Hurricane Isaac, Energy Drink Investigation
-The Republican National Convention finally got underway yesterday and… wow. Speeches were delivered by Rick Santorum, who expounded on the importance of hands. As a result, #hands was trending on Twitter. Ann Romney talked about the heart and confirmed, “I love women!” Really? And N.J. Gov. Chris Christie gave the keynote, in which many noted that it took the Governor a loooong time to actually mention Mitt Romney, the guy running for President that the party had gathered to celebrate. Remember him?
Actually, both Gov. Christie and Ann Romney were well-received in the convention hall and this morning, coverage of their speeches notes that they effectively roused the conventioneers. NBC also notes that the speakers did a good job of making Mitt Romney “relatable.” We watched the broadcast on MSNBC and many of the correspondents there — Chris Matthews, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow among them — noted that there was a lot of talk by the speakers about their own accomplishments, but a lack of discussion about Mitt Romney. (Other speakers included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.)
-Two convention attendees were removed from the event after disgusting harassment of a CNN camerawomen. According to a tweet from Take Action News reporter David Schuster, an attendee threw nuts at the camerawoman and said, “This is how we feed animals.” A convention statement reads: “Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.”
-Raynard Jackson, a registered Republican and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, is attending the GOP Convention and asks “Where are the African Americans?” His column on The Washington Post is here. Herman Cain is at the convention too and told ABC News (via ColorLines), “I happen to believe that the party has more traction with black voters than meets the eye.”
-As Hurricane Isaac struck New Orleans, the city experienced flooding, but the levees and other defense measures are standing up to the storm. Mississippi also experienced flooding. The slow-moving storm promises to rain up to 20 inches of precipitation on the area before it moves out. About 482,000 people are without power in Louisiana and rescues have taken place in New Orleans.
-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is looking into claims made by the energy-drink industry, issuing subpoenas for information about their advertising and marketing practices. The subpoenas were sent to the makers of 5-Hour Energy and PepsiCo, the makers of AMP, and Monster Beverage. The investigation will look into whether the companies are over-stating the healthy effects of some of their ingredients. Retail sales of these beverages reached $8.9 billion last year.
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A quick thanks to @SFDireWolf for bringing this to our attention: NewMe Accelerator, a startup incubator program that aims to increase diversity in the tech industry, has launched a 12-week boot camp that will offer mentorship, chances to network and educational opportunities. The goal is to fine-tune a startup idea and present it to prospective investors.
The NewMe boot camp (NewMe stands for “New Media Entrepreneurship”) started in 2010 and takes place twice per year in Silicon Valley. The program seeks to improve diversity among groups that are largely left out of the tech landscape, specifically, founders who are women, African American and Latino.
NPR has an in-depth profile of the boot camp project, stating, “One reason Silicon Valley is so homogenous is what’s called the pipeline issue. There just aren’t a lot of women, blacks and Latinos enrolling in science and engineering programs.” One of NewMe’s former students also says there’s an unspoken bias against these groups. In addition, quotes in the story indicate that there’s a belief among these young entrepreneurs that there isn’t a place for minorities in the tech business.
A new report from the Pew Charitable Trust shows that younger generations of African Americans aren’t surpassing the wealth achieved by earlier generations, a finding that’s in stark contrast with other groups.
“Specifically, African Americans are much more likely than whites to be stuck at the bottom of the income ladder over a generation, and also at the bottom of the wealth ladder,” the study’s project manger Erin Currier told The Huffington Post.
According to the Pew report, 84 percent of Americans have higher family incomes than their elders. However, when you look specifically at African Americans, they “are more likely to be stuck at the bottom and fall from the middle of the economic ladder across a generation.” More than 18,000 people across 5,000 families and a number of decades going back to the 1960s were part of the analysis.
Part of the problem is home ownership and the higher price both Blacks and Latinos pay for their property. We’ll also argue that the employment situation in the Black community is a problem. The overall high rate of joblessness in the Black community makes exceeding the prior generation’s financial standing more difficult.
They say the socioeconomic class you were born into is likely the one in which you’ll remain but for African Americans there is a greater chance of us actually falling into a lower income bracket, according to a new study from the Economic Mobility Project.
African Americans weren’t the focus of the study and we actually weren’t the only ones of the receiving end of a dismal prognosis. As the Washington Post reports, while 84 percent of Americans earn more than their parents, only about a third actually moved up between income classes during the past four decades, and 16 percent of all families surveyed dropped from the income levels of their parents. Unfortunately though, African Americans fared worse. Only 23 percent accumulated more wealth than their parents, compared with 56 percent of whites, and half were likely to fall out of the middle income range and into lower class.
To the opening point I made about remaining in one’s birth class, the researchers found that to be true even more so these days, finding that in the past 40 years Americans have had a harder time moving up and down between income classes. Forty-three percent of those raised by the bottom level of income earners were likely to remain there as adults, and likewise, 40 percent of the children from the highest-earning families were likely to become high earners themselves.
A number of factors contribute to this idea “relative mobility,” as the researchers call it, which is earning more than one’s parents but remaining in the same class. As expected, those with college degrees are three times more likely to climb from the bottom of the family income ladder to the top, and even geography plays a role. Those who grow up in high poverty neighborhoods are likely to become downwardly mobile as well.
The most telling of the findings was that the chances of moving from the absolute bottom of the income spectrum to the very top is only 4 percent. The Economic Mobility Project says that the American “rags-to-riches” story is “more often found in Hollywood than in reality.” I’d also like to suggest this whole notion of pulling oneself up solely by his own bootstraps which has come to define the right wing should also go out the window with that fairytale.
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Study Shows African-Americans and Hispanics Embracing Mobile Shopping Technology Faster Than Other Groups
The technology adoption rate of African’Americans continues to fascinate researchers as evinced in a new study conducted by The Integer Group® and M/A/R/C Research.
According to the behavioral study, “African Americans and Hispanics are adopting new shopping technologies at a faster rate than Caucasians, with 18 percent of African American shoppers and 16 percent of Hispanic shoppers using their mobile device to make purchases as compared to 10 percent of Caucasians.”
That breaks down to 21 percent of African-Americans utilizing their phone to engage in online shopping, reading product reviews and maintaining shopping list, compared to only 13 percent of white shoppers.
Although the rate of cell phone ownership is lower in African-American and Hispanic groups, the high rate of use in shopping mobile technology indicates that the multi-cultural marketing is critical in the mobile space. Much of the date on mobile usage in the past few years has indicated that African-Americans are more likely to adopt new technologies and integrate things like Twitter and other apps into their everyday life; in other words, African Americans over-index when it comes to mobile advertising and mobile adoption.
Don’t think the industry hasn’t taken notice. If it’s not already obvious, we’ll probably be seeing obvious outreach from advertisers soon.
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There are so many gaps in the documentation of slaves in the US that it’s hard to piece together the lives of many African American ancestors, but luckily the Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Progress Administration had the foresight to gather the stories of the last people who were born into slavery and who died free men and women.
Housed in the Library of Congress is a 17-volume collection of this history in “Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.” Compiled in more than 17 states between 1936 and 1938, this collection tells the first-person account of more than 2,300 men and women who were born into slavery some 70 years after they’d been set free.
“We were never allowed to go to town and it was not until after I ran away that I knew that they sold anything but slaves, tobacco, and whiskey,” reads the account of John W. Fields, a Civil War-era slave who went on to work as a domestic in Lafayette, IN.
“Our ignorance was the greatest hold the South had on us,” he said. “We knew we could run away, but what then?”
Beyond these narratives, the collection also holds roughly 500 black-and-white photos that offer a unique look at the physical post-slavery life of these African Americans. The Huffington Post reports that the oral recollections range “from startling descriptions of cruelty to almost nostalgic views of plantation life.” Most of the participants in the project were well into their 80s and 90s at the time of the interviews and their stories were said to have been collected with a sense of urgency over the two-year span to capture as many first-person accounts as possible before they passed.
Check out a slideshow of some of the photos here and tell us what you think.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Many times black people have been told if they want their concerns to be heard they need to take a stand against all civil rights injustices. That was the root of a lot of African American organizations’ involvement in the illegal immigrant laws coming out of Arizona a while back and it’s at the forefront of the gay marriage agenda today. Black people have been encouraged to see any infringement on one group of peoples’ civil liberties as an attack against us all, but for the most part heterosexual African Americans haven’t bought into that shared plight.
The anti-same-sex marriage group, National Organization for Marriage, is the latest group to attempt to race bait African Americans and Latinos to fulfill their mission—except rather than attempting to provoke solidarity to earn the right for homosexuals to marry, they explicitly state they want to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” in order to stop more states from legalizing this practice. MSN reported on this uncovered internal memo about the organization’s latest strategy, which reads:
“Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of his party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates … find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.”
What’s interesting is NOM essentially wants to blow what’s already been going on for years out of proportion. Aside from Christian communities who have denounced gay marriage—of which African Americans are largely still thought to make up a significant portion of—from my view most heterosexual black people have been apathetic in regard to gay marriage. The sentiment I typically observe is, I don’t have a problem with it or I don’t care if they do get married, but there’s no sense of urgency to get involved because it’s an issue they’re not affected by. That attitude is what prompted the whole “gay is the new black” idea to try to get African Americans down for the cause, and now NOM wants to capitalize on that apathy with this new campaign.
What’s unfortunate is that in doing so, if successful, the consequences of that wedge will likely be irreversible. Already, it’s said the black community as a whole has an issue with homosexuality and this effort will only cast an even brighter light on that idea, which I personally don’t think is true. For some black people, just like whites, their opposition is faith-based rather than rooted in some unforeseen need to oppress another segment of society. Not agreeing with a group of people’s lifestyle is not the same as wanting to oppress them, and it’s not fair to try to exploit some people’s spiritual beliefs and twist them into something they’re not. It’s also not fair to paint all African Americans with the same brush and assume we’re all anti-gay-marriage, homosexual hating Christians who want them to have as little civil liberties as possible. NOM claims to want to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it, but how can you do that by trying to create a religious divide in the African American community?
Regardless of where you stand on gay marriage, we cannot let members of the black community be used as puppets to further this group’s agenda. Let them do their own dirty work, we don’t need to play into their hands and become the face of gay marriage opposition. At the end of the day, this strategy wants to make us into even bigger enemies of the country which is becoming increasingly tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle and careless with the lives and concerns of black people. How much more of societal outcasts will we be if NOM paints us out to be homosexual rebels against legislation that is clearly gaining ground in the country. I’m not saying we need to agree with gay marriage if it goes against personal beliefs but we certainly need to make sure we are fairly represented on this issue and not played by an organization with a suspect strategy. If anything, I see this effort lighting fire against some African Americans’ apathetic feet, although in some ways we’d still be race-baited into the issue, just from the other side.
What do you think about this effort? Does it prove the point that black people should be involved with the pro-gay marriage agenda? Do you think race baiting will help or hinder either side’s goals?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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