Over time, the perseverance of African Americans in the face of insurmountable challenges has been extraordinary. Triumph over these challenges has created a powerful, close-knit community that is dedicated to positive change and development. Now, in Black History Month, let’s celebrate technology as the catalyst for further development, paving the way for new opportunities in the African American community.
Communication Is Soaring
Going digital has meant a significant increase in communication. This has opened doors for people to engage with one another, to relay concerns, desires and—most importantly—goals.
Interestingly, 91% of African Americans own smartphones, deeming them the second-largest multicultural group of ownership. Additionally, in 2016, 91% of African Americans had internet access via smartphones or broadband—an increase from 86% in 2015— surpassing all other ethnic groups. This significant rate of change shows that opportunities for community development through communication is readily available to most, with technology
Social Media Is Increasing Dialogue
In addition to the general influx of smartphone and broadband utilization, African American millennials are leading the charge in communications through their significant presence on social media. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 83 million millennials in the U.S., 14% of which are African American. This group isn’t just utilizing social media for overall engagement or for consumer purposes, but also as a powerful platform to make their voices heard on issues affecting the African American community, which is a significant step toward garnering solutions and ultimately bringing about positive change.
Careers Are on the Rise
Did you know that the Obama administration set aside $850 million to increase the number of African Americans involved in STEM? This amount will be used on campaigns spanning the next 10 years with a focus on studies and jobs. The end-goal is greater than just inserting African Americans into the industry workforce; it’s also to help the community secure leadership positions. Remarkably, the percentage of African Americans in C-suite positions has doubled from 3% to 6% over the past 20 years. With such funding available to increase African American presence in STEM, it’s likely we’ll see that leadership number increase even more.
Tech Leaders Are Inspiring
The spotlight on leaders within various ethnicities has seemed to widen, and the African American community will flourish as the spotlight continues to expand. Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code; Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder and chief executive officer of CODE2040; and Brandon Nicholson, founding executive director of The Hidden Genius Project are just three of the many examples of contemporary inspiring African American leaders, who are propelling the technology industry forward. The African American community can look to these examples as a guiding map on how to achieve personal success.
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By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
Throughout US history, African Americans have pushed the limits — and beyond — of what America claims to be. The questions posed by both intellectuals and everyday African Americans during the Reconstruction, New Deal, and Civil Rights eras have all left lasting effects on the country. So too with the US left: time and again, black radicals have pressed for an expanded scope of political and economic freedoms, for Americans at home and for people abroad.
Christopher Tinson’s important new book, Radical Intellect: Liberator Magazine and Black Activism in the 1960s, spotlights one critical organ of the African-American left during the tumultuous Civil Rights and Black Power eras. At a time when intellectual currents were in flux, inchoate and colliding, Liberator simultaneously served as an important forum for debate and a reminder of the diversity of the African-American left. The magazine, Tinson writes, “stood at the crossroads of knowledge production and insurrection,” providing activists and intellectuals a place where they could hash out their ideas and make appeals to others. Intellectually, it proved to be an important waypoint between the resurgent black nationalism seen in places like Harlem in the early 1960s and the burgeoning Black Power movement of the late 1960s.
Liberator magazine was founded in 1961 by several radical African Americans living in New York City. It operated at the nexus of a rising black nationalism, the nascent New Left, the remains of the Old Left, and the more militant elements of the Civil Rights Movement. The founders of the publication embodied this ideological and temporal mix. Pete Beveridge was a former member of the Communist Party, while Richard Gibson spent his early career reporting on the anticolonial struggle in Africa. (Editor in chief Dan Watts was the relative outlier, with a background as an architect.)
Two tenets anchored the magazine’s politics: a Pan-Africanism “that appreciated some sense of the political and cultural unity of African descendants, while also fully embracing local exigencies of considerable difference”; and a skepticism “of liberalism and gradualist approaches to social change.”
Founded to provide news and analysis about decolonization from a more radical perspective than mainstream publications, Liberator was an unabashed partisan of anticolonial struggles. The magazine deplored the depredations of colonial regimes and championed the movements seeking to overthrow them. Emerging as it did in the early 1960s, when elements of the US left were concerned the Cold War superpowers would pull newly independent Third World nations into their spheres of influence, the magazine became an important organ for those opposing oppression in the Global South.
At home, the magazine’s brand of radicalism led it to look askance at more mainstream left figures. In their eyes, Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights leaders were too cozy with liberal politicians, too limited in their tactics and demands. More laudable were figures like Malcolm X and radical organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement, or RAM.
The publication’s analysis of the 1963 March on Washington reflected these ambiguities. While they agreed with the economic aims of the demonstration — remember, it was a march for “jobs and freedom” — many of Liberator’s writers and editors expressed skepticism about the utility of “relying on such a dramatization to generate the full range of black political and economic desires.”
The question of what African Americans could achieve in the US — not just through civil rights victories but through wholesale changes in the American system — kept the Liberator’s pages alive with debate throughout the 1960s. New Left collided with Old Left, old-school Pan-Africanism came into play with the new black nationalism. The journal, Tinson writes, “demonstrate(d) the sheer amount of energy devoted to black radical futures, and yet it also reveals how deeply contested definitions and practices of radicalism were in this period.”
One noted participant in these intellectual battles was Harold Cruse. In 1963 and 1964, Liberator published a series of essays by the University of Michigan scholar titled “Rebellion or Revolution?” Cruse argued that Africans Americans needed to fight for thoroughgoing cultural change, to “move the struggle from a civil rights-based rebellion to a full-fledged revolution.” He explicitly linked the US civil rights struggle to Third World revolutions, where people waging battles for independence from European rule were fighting for control of not just political and economic but also cultural institutions.
Later that decade, in his 1967 magnum opus Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, Cruse would issue stinging rebukes of numerous black radicals and publications, including Liberator. But he was better off for having the magazine as a clearinghouse for his early, wide-ranging essays on black nationalism and Marxism.
Larry Neal also benefited from having Liberator as a playground for his ideas on black aesthetics, which would serve as key frameworks for the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Like Cruse and many others at Liberator, Neal argued that black people had to take ownership of the arts and culture within their community, and use them to benefit their fellow African Americans.
At the same time, he was critical of stalwarts on the black left like Bayard Rustin, who was close to labor liberals. In a 1965 Liberator essay, Neal invoked Malcolm X to push against Rustin, arguing that African Americans had to make their struggle part of a larger, international movement for human rights. Neal’s case for a “black spiritual and intellectual awakening” was, again, a window into the debates among African Americans over the future of the black freedom struggle in America.
Tinson also shows how Liberator served as an intellectual home for radical African-American women. Liberator ran articles about figures like playwright Loraine Hansberry and activist Gloria Richardson, and published some of the earliest works of Toni Cade Bambara, future editor of the groundbreaking anthology The Black Woman. The magazine gave women a chance to hone their literary and debating skills before assuming leadership roles in the Black Power and feminist movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Liberator operated during a golden age for African-American radical publications. Freedomways, cofounded by W. E. B. Du Bois, launched in 1961, the same year as Liberator. By the end of the decade, a revitalized Negro Digest — printed under the Johnson Publication Company banner (the same publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines) — would establish itself as a redoubt of black intellectual thought (and change its name to Black World to reflect its more radical stance on social issues). Black Scholar set up shop in 1969, and helped catalyze the first wave of black studies scholarship in the early 1970s.
But money was always a problem for publications like Liberator. In 1971, lacking a steady stream of income — and beset by personality clashes — the magazine closed its pages. Others on the black left would follow. Black World stopped printing in 1976. Freedomways made it through the decade, but closed in 1985. The Institute of the Black World, a black-run think tank that was another important institution for thinking through the black radical tradition was finished by the early 1980s.
Liberator’s lifespan was relatively short, and its subscription base was relatively small. Yet it was read by radicals across the United States — and quite a few abroad — who wanted to make sense of the world they lived in. Its links to groups well outside its New York City base gave the publication greater influence than its editors could have initially imagined. Fusing intellectual life and activism, the magazine demonstrated anew the centrality of the black radical tradition to the larger left project in America.
Today, as the Black Lives Matter movement calls out the contradictions of American democracy and sparks debates about the direction of the country, Radical Intellect reminds us of the vital role that intellectuals and periodicals can play in that tradition.Post Views: 353
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
All Marvin Anderson ever wanted to be was a firefighter. Instead, at 18 years old, he was wrongfully convicted of rape, sodomy, abduction and robbery.When a Virginia judge sentenced him to 210 years in prison, “My whole body went numb,” Anderson told CNN. “I knew I was going to prison for something I didn’t do.”It took 15 years behind bars and five years on parole before Anderson was exonerated for his crimes — the result of DNA testing.“I trusted in the justice system and it failed me,” he said.Anderson is just one of hundreds of black men who have been convicted of and exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. A new report from the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project between the University of California, Irvine; University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law, shows that black people are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than white people and are also likely to spend longer in prison before being exonerated for their crimes.While black people represent 13% of the US population, they represent a whopping 47% of the 1,900 exonerations in the registry.“In some cases, you see some type of explicit racism,” said Samuel Gross, a law professor at University of Michigan and a senior editor of the report. Implicit racism is also a factor, Gross said.Researchers focused on three types of crimes where black people were more likely than whites to be exonerated: murder, sexual assault and drug crimes. While they acknowledged that the causes of each exoneration “differ sharply from one type of crime to another,” they also said they found patterns of racial discrimination in all three groups.According to the researchers, innocent blacks are seven times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent white people. Gross said this was partly because homicide rates among black people are higher than among white people, and innocent black people are therefore more likely to get suspected and convicted of murder. (According to data from the FBI, 52% of murder victims in 2014 were black and 46% were white, and 53% of offenders were black compared to 45% who were white).In addition, murder cases where a black defendant was wrongfully convicted were 22% more likely to involve police misconduct than those involving white defendants.Black people serving time for sexual assault are three-and-a-half times more likely to be innocent than white defendants that have been convicted of sexual assault. The bulk of the racial disparities in sexual assault convictions can be explained by white victims who mistakenly identify black assailants, said Gross, particularly when the victim is a white woman and the offender a black man.Gross said white people are less likely to accurately identify black faces — a concept known as “own race bias” in cross-racial identification.When it comes to drug crimes, innocent blacks were 12 times more likely to be convicted than innocent whites. While black and white people have similar rates of illegal drug use, black people are more likely to be arrested and convicted of such offenses than white people are, researchers found.To read more Click or Copy link below:Post Views: 453
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
When it comes to the overall health of black Americans, there’s good news and bad news, according to a report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.The good news is that the overall death rate for black people in the United States has declined about 25% in recent years.The bad news is that, although blacks are living longer, a racial disparity remains: The life expectancy of blacks is still four years less than that of whites.Younger blacks are more likely to live with or die from conditions typically found in older whites, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to the report.The new report included health data and age-adjusted death rates for black and white Americans from 1999 to 2015. Additionally, age-specific data and death rates were examined. The data were analyzed for age-specific trends among four adult age groups: 18 to 34, 35 to 49, 50 to 64 and 65 and older.The data came from the US Census Bureau, the National Vital Statistics System and the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.The data showed that from 1999 to 2015, death rates decreased significantly in both black and white populations, and the racial disparity in death rates between the two populations fell from 33% in 1999 to 16% in 2015.
Common causes of death, by county
What are major causes of death in your county? New data show surprising trends and differences in county-level mortality rates across the United States. Click on your state and select your county to find leading causes of your death in your neighborhood, with mortality rates measured by the number of deaths per every 100,000 people.
‘Many of the disparities … are largely preventable’Black Americans saw notable declines in age-specific deaths related to heart disease, cancer and HIV from 1999 to 2015, said Timothy Cunningham, an epidemiologist at the CDC Division of Population Health and lead author of the new report, at a telebriefing Tuesday.“Death rates from HIV among blacks went down about 80% in 18- to 49-year-olds,” he said.Dramatic decreases in HIV deaths were seen among whites too, the data showed. Yet a racial disparity remains, as blacks are still more likely to die from HIV, according to the report.The data also showed that blacks in the 18 to 34 and 35 to 49 age groups were nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease, stroke and diabetes as whites.For blacks 18 to 64, the data showed that they were at a higher risk of early death than whites.“These findings are generally consistent with previous reports that use the term ‘weathering,’ which suggests that blacks experience premature aging and earlier health decline than whites and that this decline in health accumulates across the entire lifespan and potentially across generations. This happens as a consequence of psychosocial, economic and environmental stressors,” said Leandris Liburd, director of the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.Liburd was not an author of the new report, which was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.For adults 65 and older, the racial death rate gap appeared to close, the data showed. In general, the leading causes of deaths for blacks are heart disease, cancer and stroke, Liburd said.“I can’t say enough that we need to continue to understand both the relationship between social and economic conditions and how they impact health disparities and then identify ways that we can work to improve those conditions,” she said. “African-American health is improving, and many of the disparities we see in the chronic diseases are largely preventable.”
‘Where we live determines our health’The new report pointed to social and economic conditions, such as poverty, limited access to health care, educational attainment and home ownership, as factors influencing the racial health gaps that remain.For instance, “disparities in premature deaths associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes are due to our inability to provide adequate disease management for blacks who are diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes,” said Darrell Gaskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He was not involved in the new report.“We see similar disparities in treatment for cancer patients,” he said.The new CDC report showed that blacks have the highest death rate for all cancers combined compared with whites.Also, in all age groups, blacks were more likely than whites to describe not being able to visit a doctor in the past year due to cost, according to the report.”The good news is that disparities in mortality rates are narrowing in the major categories. However, we have long ways to go,” Gaskin said about the report.The National Urban League, a civil rights group, released a separate report Tuesday titled “State of Black America 2017: Protect Our Progress.”The report notes that President Donald Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act could disproportionately burden the black community, which already faces a disparity in access to care.“It is like a massive wildfire that is burning the African-American community, and society has not devoted sufficient resources to control it, much less extinguish it,” he said.Gaskin proposed that community resources — such as access to public safety, quality foods, public recreation and medical care — could help diminish such disparities.While individual behaviors, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, are important, investing in black communities and expanding access to care also remain important for improving overall health, said Cunningham, the report’s lead author.“What we do know from other studies that have documented changes in mortality and changes in life expectancy over time is that they are often associated with improvements in health care access, such as screening for chronic conditions, regular followup visits, taking medication regularly,” Cunningham said at the news conference.“Where we live determines our health; it determines our quality of housing, the schools we attend, our employment opportunities,” he said. “Individual behaviors are important, but one challenge we face is that we have to invest in the places where people live.”To read more Click or Copy link below:Post Views: 233