Today, as the Black community recognizes the 12thAnnual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we stand at the crossroads of heightened awareness, education, and potential eradication. To understand the magnitude of being in such a positive position, it is imperative that we examine how far we’ve come and how close we find ourselves to alleviating the stranglehold that HIV/AIDS has held on our communities.
Long considered a “dirty little secret,” when the disease imploded in Black America, many people began to frantically gaze around in hopes of finding a reason why it could never happen to them; however, as HIV/AIDS began to affect our friends, families, and loved ones, the conversation began to shift from one of blame and hopelessness to one of compassion and purpose.
Though the numbers remain extremely troubling, with life saving treatments, community outreach, and education, African-Americans are living longer, healthier lives, and this pivotal breakthrough is due in large part to the tireless efforts of such organizations as the Black AIDS Institutein Los Angeles.
On December 21, Bank of America settled a Justice Department complaint alleging racial discrimination in mortgage lending by its Countrywide subsidiary. But underlying issues are far from resolved. Longstanding federal inaction in the face of widespread discriminatory mortgage lending practices helped create, and since has perpetuated, racially segregated, impoverished neighborhoods. This history of “law-sanctioned” racial segregation has had many damaging effects, including poor educational outcomes for minority children.
Liberty and justice for all is not yet a reality in America. Despite the election of our nation’s first African American president, black Americans continue to trail behind their white counterparts in education, employment, and overall health and wellbeing. And while some states and the federal government continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, more than half of all states still deny them basic civil rights. Such systemic inequities render people of color who are also gay and transgender among the most vulnerable in our society.
In recent years, Latino and African American consumers with good credit scores of 660* and higher have too often ended up with high interest rate mortgages, mortgages which are supposed to go to risky borrowers.
These higher-rate mortgages increased the likelihood of foreclosure among Latinos and blacks. The higher foreclosure rates of these groups help explain why Latinos and blacks have seen such dramatic declines in wealth.
From 2004 to 2008, only 6.2 percent of white borrowers with credit scores of 660 and above ended up with higher-rate mortgages. Latinos and blacks with good credit scores, however, were three times as likely to end up with higher-rate mortgages.
Borrowers of all races suffered from the anything-goes attitude of the housing boom. The Wall Street Journal has reported that more than half of high interest rate loans during the peak years of the boom went to borrowers who should have qualified for prime mortgages. The data also suggests that Latinos and blacks with good credit were especially at risk for ending up with higher-rate mortgages.
As black women watch Michelle Obama on the national stage, they search — sometimes nervously — for nuances often lost on the larger culture. How she handles criticism, how she raises her children, even her style of dress, has the potential to counter negative stereotypes.
In a nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, black women described themselves as relating to Michelle Obama and sensing that she understands them. Nearly eight out of 10 black women say they personally identify with the first lady, and when asked to give a one-word description of Obama, among the words most commonly used were “intelligent,” “strong” and “classy.”
In follow-up interviews, black women say the first lady’s racial and gender identity are essential to the deep connection they feel they have to her. They call her a role model, someone familiar to them — like a sister or aunt.
That emotional stake makes watching Obama navigate the world stage both “thrilling and terrifying,” says Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University who has written aboutthe first lady’s impact on black women.
There is no doubt that the ability to attract, motivate, and retain a talented pool of employees is crucial to any company’s success. Representing about 50% of the total U.S. labor force, female employees are an important force driving not only firm performancebut also our national economy. Interestingly, findings from marketplace polls and academic research suggest that women place more importance on the role business needs to play in society when selecting their employers, and that women seek power and leadership in the workplace not so much for personal gains, but to make a difference and make the world a better place. Given the fact that corporate social responsibility (CSR) occupies a prominent place on the global corporate agenda in today’s socially conscious climate, we collaborated with Hewlett Packard to explore the effect of CSR on retaining and motivating female employees.
Imagine a time with equal representation of ALL women on boards, at the CEO position and in the c-suite. There'd be no more talk of "breaking the glass ceiling." There would be no glass ceiling. Nor would there be talk of "being the first." The presence of strong female leaders would be the norm.
In 1965, affirmative action was established. It was amended in 1967 to ensure that women and minorities were provided opportunities to be considered for job placement. In theory, it served as the catalyst for creating opportunities. Unfortunately, not everyone was ready to meet the new employee requirements. As a result, even in the 21st century women are still struggling to find their place and voice in corporate America.
According to The Atlantic, in 2010, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. For every two men that got a college diploma last year, three women did the same. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women now hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs -- up from 26.1% in 1980. They make up 54% of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America's physicians are now women, as are 45% of associates in law firms -- and both those percentages are rising quickly.
The pink elephant in the living room that isn't being talked about is this: White women have been the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. So much so that their presence at mid- to senior-levels dramatically outpace women of color by 4 to 1. In Fortune 500 companies, 2010 numbers show that white women held 12.7% of board seats as compared to women of color holding 3% of the board seats.
After years of progress, the number of female lawmakers in the U.S. slipped in the last election cycle. Leslie Bennetts on a new drive to change that—and why the country will be better off for it.
From the Daily Beast:
“Women are 51 percent of the population, but we have flatlined at 17 percent in Congress, with 17 women in the Senate, six women governors, and 23 percent of state legislators around the country,” says Tracey Hyams, director of Political Parity, a non-partisan coalition of leaders who have joined forces to increase the number of women in office.
In the last election cycle, frustration turned to alarm as women’s representation actually lost ground. “There was a net loss of 81 legislative seats for women,” reports Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. “It was the first time we’ve gone down in 30 years.”
As the debate over American market capitalism takes center stage in thepresidential campaign, it’s a good time to focus on the relationship between economic growth and our senior population, since the greatest social movement of the coming decades will be our aging citizenry. As we work to harness the potential of this changing demographic group, presidential candidates might consider an interesting parallel with the integration of women into economic life in the last half of the 20th century.
Women's economic empowerment met steady opposition early on, based on the mistaken view that females would take jobs away from males. But as history has shown, an economy that includes women is an economy that grows. And a growing economy has room – and the need – for new entrants. If American market capitalism teaches anything, it is that we need to prevent barriers into economic life for people of all genders, races, and ages, and indeed, to help make these new entrants part of the very engine that drives growth. If it was never true that women would take men’s jobs, it’s equally untrue that keeping an aging workforce active will not take younger generations’ jobs, as has been documented by Axel Boersch-Supan in his groundbreaking work onintergenerational cohesion. He concludes, “…We find no evidence that the burden of population aging…is systematically related to broad array of indicators of intergenerational conflict”.