Archives for April 2010
By Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
Some say we’ve reached the plateau of racial equality where slogans, demonstrations and boycotts are no longer needed–or effective.
In other words, we’ve arrived at the Promised Land; the Freedom Train has arrived at the station. We now live in a “post-racial” society.
Of course, anyone with common sense or a grasp of reality would shake their heads at those assertions. They will note that lingering racial disparities and various socioeconomic indicators reveal a contrary veracity:
The academic achievement gap between White and Black children is actually wider than it was when students ignored the racist taunts and physical assaults of bigots to ‘integrate’ southern public schools.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Black poverty rate was 40%. Today it is 43%.
Seventy percent of Black households were two parent families 40 years ago. Today, the exact opposite is true.
Three decades after Milwaukee gained a reputation as one of the nation’s most segregated cities, it remains so.
Equally illuminating, the gap between Black and White incomes has closed by only six percent since the so-called riots of 1968, despite the coordinated campaign for economic justice that followed.
Those alarming statistics aside, it’s also true that we have made significant progress in nearly every key area of American life since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the mountaintop:
Nationally, we have made significant political inroads. And locally, we have far exceeded the hopes of the generation past. Not only do we have a Black congresswoman representing a district that is less than 40% African American, but the chair of the Milwaukee County Board and president of the Milwaukee Common Council are African American.
We also have a Black sheriff (and had a Black police chief) who last week congratulated his top deputy who was appointed by the first Black president to become U.S. Marshall for the Eastern District.
The president of the Milwaukee School Board, with oversight over a $1.2 billion budget is not only African American, but uniquely credentialed, as will be the incoming superintendent of the public schools.
The Black middle class has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two decades, and while we have not broken the 20% plateau for private sector middle management positions, we have three Black presidents of financial institutions, dozens of vice presidents of major corporations and countless Black faces staring back at us when we shop, bank, or purchase goods and services.
The president of the state’s largest law firm is an African American. And he just happens to be a partner in one of the largest Black owned corporations in America.
Interestedly, his brother is pastor of one of Milwaukee’s five mega churches, whose collective membership totals the number of Black families living in Milwaukee when my grandparents moved to this city back in the 1940s.
The African American and Black chambers have record members, attesting to our growing business strength. We have three Black financial institutions, a grocer that can claim itself a challenger to the largest chain of grocery stores in the state for Black customers, and several Black businesses that now compete for prime governmental contracts.
That latter point is revealing since just a few years ago all we could hope for were ‘minority’ set asides and subcontracting crumbs.
Theorically, we also have the power of numbers (we’re almost 50% of the city population), and unparelled economic influence–spending over a $2 billion a year—to essentially control the direction of this city.
So, with all this so-called progress, why are we still so seemingly impotent?
Why do we continue to lead the nation in negative social indicators—widest Black academic achievement gap, highest unemployment rate among cities our size, highest Black incarceration rate, teen pregnancy and mortgage rejection rates?
Is this really the mountaintop, or just a slippery slope?
I’ve been posing those questions to movers and shakers in Milwaukee since the announcement that the revolution has been cancelled because we had won the civil rights war. And, as expected, I received contradictory and sometimes nonsensical answers in response.
Often I take those responses with a grain of salt, given the respondent’s history, occupational affiliations and/or socioeconomic and political myopia. But the answers are revealing nonetheless.
For example, a long time public school teacher of renown blamed the 50% Black male high school drop out rate on poor parenting, not to be confused with parents who are poor, which is the excuse of the teachers union. The Black teacher said we are now witnessing the byproduct of the sexual revolution, the first generation of children having children, which was a byproduct of our ‘freedom.’
A widely known parent activist blamed the situation on institutional racism, and an unaccountable teachers union that has bankrupted the district.
A key MPS administrator blamed the phenomenon on inadequate state funding, political myopia and too much sugar in our children’s’ diets.
A state politician simply said taxpayers get the type of educational system they deserve.
Which in the case of Milwaukee means what?
We ‘deserve’ to host the worse Black fourth grade reading proficiency rates in the country? One of the highest Black drop out rates? And one of the widest racial academic achievement gaps?
Wasn’t school integration—excuse me, desegregation—supposed to solve those educational inequities?
Equally intriguing, why isn’t anybody upset about the new status quo? Have we accepted mediocrity and failure as the new Black norm?
Or could the racist genetic inferiority theory be true? You know, the one that suggests that since Black people are genetically (intellectually) inferior, no one should be surprised that only a minority of our children excel.
Let’s stay on that page for a second.
If the Bell Curve is true, does that also explain away all of the other negative social indicators?
Black leaders come up with a half dozen reasons for our current state, but they all agree that if we simply go out and vote, we can legislate our way out of this dilemma.
Indeed, one of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement was equal political representation. Similar to the theory that allowing Black children to sit next to White students would knock down the walls of educational apartheid, if only we had more political representation, all of our social and economic ills would be cured.
Well guess what?
We now have the numbers, albeit with a caveat or two.
(Of the 22 recognizable Black politicians representing Milwaukee, over one third have been convicted of either a ethics violation, criminal complaint or morality scandal.
One of the most likable was thrown out of office a month ago. Three served prison terms in the last five years.
In each case, Black people (myself included) defended them even in the face of overwhelming evidence. And more often than not, there were those who justified the political betrayal by declaring, “Well, White folks do it all the time…” )
Well, it’s report card time.
How have our Black politicians responded to the myriad of issues facing our community? How have they dealt with the educational crisis that has worsened since the turn of the century?
Which Black politician is demanding a proportionate share of stimulus dollars for our community? Who is leading the battle to stem Black on Black crime, increasing the affordable housing pool, or creating jobs? Why isn’t there a unified political voice at the table?
Several of my bloggers (including a prominent Black politician) suggest the reason we’ve made so little progress politically is because most Black politicians either feel a greater responsibility to their party and special interests (particularly unions), or they are content to ride their ego train.
“They do what little they do either because they don’t know better, are afraid to buck the system, or because they know Black folks won’t hold them accountable,” he explained.
“I guess that does mean we’re equal, because our Black politicians are acting just like White ones.”
I don’t know if there’s a consensus about that theory, but there is merit to another hypothesis— that we have squandered more political opportunities than we have taken advantage of. Criticize them as you wish, but I miss the McGees, Gary George and Terrance Pitts. They at least knew how to shake the tree.
But in truth, we can’t solely put our plight at the feet of Black politicians, because history shows all politicians do is massage them.
The power is truly with the people. We have the collective strength to do more than complain. If our collective energies were channeled, we could easily turn this situation around. Instead, something happened after we were told the battle was over. For reasons as yet explained, we became content with mediocrity and despair. Our community imploded. We left the Freedom Train for the subway, and abandoned our cultural platform for the soul train dance line.
And we remained silent as our so-called Black leaders abandoned the people for the party, and civil rights for “silver rights.”
Seemingly overnight, they stopped condemning social dysfunctionality, and even questioned the motives of those of us screaming the alarm about the direction we were heading. Black leaders refused to deal with the root causes, and instead padded their pockets as they blamed our plight on poverty, the social media or contaminated water.
Our cultural dysfunctionality was excused away as the evolution of negritude (excuse my French). It’s part of the new cultural norm.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I questioned a prominent minister who shrugged his shoulders to most of my questions. When asked if we’re heading to hell in a hand basket, he apologetically told me that today’s clergy bury their heads in the sand because ‘the sinners make up our congregation. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you, so you don’t condemn promiscuity or other sinful behavior.’
Thus, maybe the right is right. Maybe we have reached the Promised Land but our own self-destructive behavior has stagnated our growth. Or maybe there’s a grand conspiracy, a manifestation of the Willie Lynch philosophy that’s derailed our freedom train.
All I know for sure is that freedom and equality hasn’t been what it’s cracked up to be; what I thought they would be. The Freedom Train has been stuck on autopilot for far too long.
Which brings to mind a meeting held a score and a half ago between members of the Black Press and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. One of our delegation members asked Gingrich about his party’s opposition to affirmative action. His response was both mind boggling and yet eerily logical.
Gingrich said White resistance to affirmative action would result in the weakening if not total rejection of racial remedies.
Falling short of calling the opposition ‘reverse discrimination,’ he said the majority of White Americans (of both political parties) opposed ‘special preferences’ seeing the concept as either misguided public policy or unfounded reparations.
He concluded by advising that if Black Americans could just wait another 50 or 60 years, the issue would be moot, as Americans of all strips would have moved beyond racism and bigotry.
By mid-century, he suggested, America would morph into the America envisioned by Dr. King and others, where all people would be judged by the content of their character (or look and act like Tiger Woods).
In other words, Black America should tolerate injustice and suffer in silence and our children, or their children would live in a just and equal society.
That means, according to my calculations, if we simply bide our time and stay the course, by 2050 there should be about 82,421 additional Black high school drop outs; 142,582 babies born to poor single women, 93,211 of whom will be borderline illiterate; 20,321 Black families denied a mortgage loan; 29,333 Black men sentenced to prison on felony convictions; and 64,897 new crack and heroin victims.
That’s a lot of lost souls. But they will probably be victims whether we question the direction of the Freedom Train or not.
Truth of the matter is, too many of us brought into the lie that the movement is over, that we reached the Promised Land. But instead of milk and honey, the streets were paved with food stamps, video games and gangsta rap CDs.
“We hope there are individuals amongst us who want to carry on the torch that illuminates the road of struggle and are willing to navigate a still torturous path for our people.”
If there were a Mt. Rushmore for civil right icons, it’s a sure bet the faces of Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Dorothy I. Height would be etched in stone along side the those of Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer and one or two others who occupy the rarified air of legend in the still ongoing battle for equality.
Hooks was the former head of the NAACP who lead the organization in the post civil rights movement era. Height, the head of the National Council of Negro Women fought for equality for not only Black Americans, but women too going back to the “New Deal” of President Franklin Roosevelt.
These lions of the struggle will be greatly missed. Their deaths, only days apart from each other, reminds us that time is becoming increasingly shorter for established Black leadership still living.
While there still remains Reverends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and other major leaders of the movement, they too are nearing the time when they will be turning the reins over to a younger generation of activists.
But is there a next generation of activists out there ready (and, more importantly willing) to grab hold of those reins and continue the journey towards the promise land mapped out by Dr. King?
Will they have the passion and feel the urgency of continuing the sojourn of many giants like Hooks and Height? Do they believe the struggle is now over—if not won, given the widespread belief America is in a “post-racism era”?
We hope there are individuals amongst us who want to carry on the torch that illuminates the road of struggle and are willing to navigate a still torturous path for our people.
The challenges before Black America are still many and deceptive in that problems many outside our community believe have been resolved are—in reality—still there negatively impacting us.
The new Hooks’ and Heights must be aware of the deception and be equipped with knowledge of the new technology and media to communicate the bias and disproportionate treatment that still permeates the nation’s coming generations.
These future generations must be told that though we have come a long way and won many battles thanks to the likes of Hooks and Height, there are still battles to be fought and won.
By Taki Raton
A select panel of community based educators has been assembled to explore and dissect the highly acclaimed newly released book “BRAINWASHED – Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority” Friday, May 7, 2010 at Bolton Hall, lecture room B52, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee beginning at 6 p.m.
Drs. William Rogers and Cecil Austin, both professors in the Department of Africology, at UWM, Bro. Gimbu Kali, Adjunct Professor at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and Dr. Chrishirella Warthen, Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University will serve as panel members invited to examine in detail the twelve chapter text.
This presentation is co-sponsored by UW-M’s Department of Africology in association with Dr. Roger’s course, “The School in African American Society.”
“Brainwashed” is authored by founder and former CEO of the Chicago based Burrell Communications, Tom Burrell. Burrell is additionally a national marketing communications pioneer and an Advertising Hall of Fame inductee.
Over 400 people were in attendance Friday, March 19 at Chicago’s DuSable Museum for a celebrated panel of presenters seated for both the introduction of this highly anticipated work and an analysis of its content.
Themed “ARE YOU BRAINWASHED? The Marketing of Black Inferiority 21st Century Style,” discussants included Burrell, “Ballad of Emmett Till” playwright Ifa Bayeza, and Princeton University professor and author Dr. Cornel West.
Moderated by TV commentator Tavis Smiley, this panel review was in association with the following Saturday, March 21, Black Agenda roundtable discussion held at Chicago State University.
It was actually on that Friday evening that this writer, who was invited to the DuSable event, had the initial idea to structure and convene a presentation here in Milwaukee.
This area panel would be profiled with a strong pulse on our history; one that can speak from a culturally specific frame-of-reference, and a collective presenter membership that has strong standing in our community.
After speaking with Drs. Rogers, Austin, and Warthen, the interest swelled and excitement generated over the idea and we moved ahead with the planning.”
Kali brings to the discussion a classical in-depth understanding of racism and White World Supremacy.
We are both masters degree alumnus from the Center for Inner City studies and nearly bar none from an African Centered culturally specific anchor, particularly under the teachings of our now esteemed ancestor Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers, would there be any other curriculum or institution in this country that could top the depth and quality of study, historical research, and instructional focus of Global White Supremacy as taught at the Center.
Gimbu Kali was an exceptional protégé in this arena. We are very fortunate to have his remarks included in this sharing.
Burrell in promotional material notes that the myth of both White Supremacy and Black Inferiority was created to justify slavery within a democracy and became “one of the greatest propaganda campaigns of all time.”
“Brainwashed” reveals how the torturous enslavement and indoctrination of a people “resulted in the powerful, all-pervasive, mass-media driven brainwashing that impacts African American lives even today and may be more subtle than in the past, given that a Black First Family occupies the White House.”
To place for the reader Burrell’s comments within a chronological corridor, the formalized birth of the White Supremacy myth would have its origins in the 1700s.
A driving force in the design of this historical falsehood was the Constitutional Convention, which met 223 years ago in 1787.
The official charge of delegates who attended this assemblage in Philadelphia was to amend the Articles of Confederation. But as many historians would assert, the Articles were ignored and an entirely new constitution was written.
Within ensuing political discussions, concessions were made back and forth between the Southern and Northern States. One such resolution was to mend the argument of the population count with the South having enslaved Africans in numbers and the North being nearly slave free.
To resolve this issue to the agreement of both parties, rather than each slave being counted as a person, three-fifths of a state’s slave population would be counted toward that state’s total count. Thus each slave legally became three-fifths of a human being.
However, by the time of this assemblage, notes Dr. Joy DeGruy in “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” a significant portion of White Americans had already “viewed Africans as a lesser species of humans than those of European descent.”
The ongoing challenge of White America, and most notably of the European world globally, was to dehumanize the African and prove in all circles of humankind activity that Whites are superior and Blacks are inferior.
The rationale for such ethnic re-imaging was to provide for the White psyche (DeGruy, et al.) foundational mental and emotional justification both for participation in and support of institutionalized slavery and for the aggressive continuation and cultivation of the slave trade.
As quoted in Anthony Browder’s “Nile Valley Contribution to Civilization,” this myth would be expressed in philosopher David Hume’s words that “I am apt to suspect the Negroes… to be naturally inferior to the White;” in the thoughts of scholar John Burgess who contends that “There is something natural in the subordination of an inferior race even to the point of enslavement of that inferior race.”
Even President Abraham Lincoln would advance sentiments that while Whites and Blacks may live together, “there must be the position of superior and inferior. And I as much as any man I am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race.”
This indoctrination would be well seeded by the mid 1600s, but took formalized rooting during the 18th century in the behavior, thinking, and view of life, view of the world, view of history, view of ancestry, view of a present, view of future, and the view of eternity in the heart, mind, and soul of White America.
Such a view then and now would be reflected and actualized in all areas of American people activity – in economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war as positioned by Dr. Francis Cress Welsing in her work “The Isis Papers.”
White Supremacy and Black Inferiority were also the 24/7 brainwashing focus on the African enslaved. And he too, like the European, came to believe in this same myth once the connection of memory tying him/her to our Motherland was destroyed.
We were transformed from an African to a slave. Our minds were literally “Whitewashed” during this cross-generational alteration process over 246 years from 1619 to and through 1865 – and continuing.
The Black enslaved was stripped during this process of an autonomous African memory. We were stripped of our love for Africa. We were stripped of our knowledge of Self – of our African Way.
We were stripped of our natural and humane connection to ancestry, legacy, history, heritage, tradition, identity, purpose, direction, values, culture, consciousness, language, name, birthright, laws, spirituality, rituals, and holidays – of our tomorrow, future, destiny, eternity, and of our own Forever.
The African’s mind at the conclusion of this transformation process became what Tavis Smiley during his March 20th Black Agenda terms a “blank slate” waiting to be written upon.
And it would be at this point in time when the White enslaver wrote his “Way” on our Black blank minded slate that we would then became that slave – his slave.
With his mental “Whitness” in our Black bodies, we were at that point and continually still now today conditioned to think in his way per his thoughts, sentiments, view of life, view of the world, view of his past, view of the now present, view of the (his) future and view of (his) eternity.
In this state of mind, the Black man and woman in this mental slave conditioning would be in Burrell’s book, “Bred to be Led.”
We were birthed and bred then and now to follow only and exclusively White; only to duplicate White; only to replicate White; only to imitate White; only to cultivate White; only to protect White; only to maintain White; only to perpetuate White; only to praise White, and only to eternalize White.
Thus, we have one of the reasons why our children self-destruct, as many of them say they do not see a future for themselves, only because we as a people – and particularly we as Black men – have not reclaimed one for them to grow into.
We are only trained – bred – to build, create, maintain, cultivate, and protect a future for other people.
And we actually physically die in their (someone else’s) future. We do not experience death in our own time space; in a world, in a reality, in an existence that is our own as was the case of our Classical African ancestry along the banks of the Nile.
This is why so many Black adults, particularly Black professionals, around the country were so much against Black Power in the past and the African Centered movement over previous decades because we were, then and now, conditioned to accept and protect only that which was White.
We were then, and now, only responding to our White ingrained conditioning generationally passed down to us through us. We were not acting within our own yet to be rescued African ascended mind.
And as Butch Slaughter and Erick Grimes would say in their work “Why our children hate us – How Black adults betray Black children,” we came off the plantation in 1865 a “damaged (African-sic) people;” a condition that has yet to be healed and reversed.
It even becomes curious reflecting over all those years when we were saying that “the battle is for the minds of our children.” We were wrong with that one! The battle is actually for our own adult minds.
Then and only then upon being victorious in this battle for the reclaimed Black/African adult self, can we then address the needs of our children. Until such time, the future and well being of our young ones are still in the hands of others, be it through their direct actions or through us – their representative conduit.
How did this conditioning continue and relentlessly become cultivated over these 145 years from 1865 to the present? Within the “Brainwashed” context, Smiley says that this conditioning from the time of our enslavement to and through the present was continuous:
“It incessantly never stops. This same theme is projected constantly. The images keep saying to us that we are indeed inferior.
“We bought it and we not only bought it, but true to any kind of brainwashing, the brainwashed becomes a part of the brainwashing team.
The abused becomes the abuser. And that is where we are. We are indeed the chief perpetuators of our own victimizations,” he says.
“Brainwashed” examines how the very fabric of Black American life has been undermined by such continued brainwashing, initially structured on the plantation and, as DeGruy would proclaim, continually passed on throughout each and every nearly five birthed generations of Black people during the past 145 years from Emancipation to and through the present – and continuing.
Burrell recounts how the effects of such a conditioning to this day impacts on our male/female relationships, family issues, finances, emotional and spiritual concerns, entertainment, health, and particularly in education.
In this regard, the May 7 panel will deconstruct the posture in “Brainwashed” that due to our yet unresolved historical circumstance, the Black community is still impacted by such issues as: why Blacks cannot build strong families, why Black and beautiful are still contradictions; why Blacks kill one another at astronomical rates; why Black stereotypes are promoted so aggressively; why Black students perform so poorly in school, and the “paradox of progress” as reflected in the myth of a “post-racial society.”
“An audacious and powerful wake-up call! ‘Brainwashed’ unflinchingly probes the psychological, political, and economic dimensions of the White Superiority/Black Inferiority complex,” says Dr. West in his review.
“Mastermind and master marketer Tom Burrell delivers a critical analysis of the forces that have shaped the negative perceptions, self-esteem, and circumstances of Black Americans over the last 400 years,” says National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and “Essence” Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Susan L. Taylor.
In chapter analysis, the Milwaukee panel will present contemporary issues that reflect current day Black Inferiority, examine the historical roots leading to such behavior and finally bridge to offering positive solutions.
“Brainwashed” is available for purchase at Readers Choice Book Store, 1950 North Martin Luther King Drive. Proprietor Carla Allison’s number is 265-2003.
The May 7 UWM event is free and open to the public. Seating will be limited in the Bolton B52 lecture hall. For further information please contact this writer at [email protected]
NEXT WEEK: An interview with author Tom Burrell on BRAINWASHED
Two hundred, sixteen thousand down, 54,000 to go, I-Witness touching Black people all over the city of Milwaukee and the world one event at a time.
Black People are the First Wonder of the World !
“Until the Lion writes his
the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
Ponte De Aria
Be Ever Wonderful –
Word of the Week
ne plus ultra
nee-plus-UL-truh; nay-, noun:
1. The highest point, as of excellence or achievement; the acme; the pinnacle; the ultimate.
2. The most profound degree of a quality or condition
1. He also penned a number of supposedly moral and improving books which . . . were the very ne plus ultra of tedium.
2. If you were a graduate student in the 80’s and subject to the general delusion that held literary criticism to be the ne plus ultra of intellectual thrill, then you too probably owned one of these: an oversize paperback with an austere cover and small-type title that, grouped with three or more of its kind on your bookshelf, confirmed your status as an avatar of predoctoral chic.
–Source Doctor Dictionary.
Hey, Donnell White-Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday!
Hey Thomas and Leilie Nance, it must be nice to still be dating after 15 years of wedded bliss. Happy Anniversary!
Hey Dwight and Linda McMillan, I see the Chop House is a popular place for those celebrating their anniversary. Imagine when the two of you met. You didn’t foresee that the two of you would be together for 28 years.
It just shows when God put you together and you know it. You can still go on a date after 28 years. Holla! Happy Anniversary!
Hey Selena and Janice over in the Deli at Lena’s Piggley Wiggley in the Midtown Shopping Center. You know you are the best. Selena I love your new dishes like the broccoli, cauliflower potato salad and the Texas Caviar Bean salad. You go girl you are the chef. Holla!
Hey I-witness’s favorite, doorman over at the Hilton Hotel. It’s always a pleasure seeing you. Holla!
Hey Gisele Lewis, case manager at the Policy-Studies Inc. I-Witness wants to compliment your compassion, your knowledge and your ability to treat W-2 clients with such dignity on my recent visit there to assist one of your clients. I thank you for that.
I observed the plaque which said employee of the month, you said it was not yours, you just moved into the office.
Well you are I-Witness’s employee of the month for doing your job well. Again, thank you for displaying such dignity in handling your clients.
Hey Poet Mario Willis. I hope your fighter won. Holla!
Hey Charles Williams, security over at ARJ’s Panche’ It was a pleasure chatting with you. Okay, when you get ready to take steppin’ classes I’m going with you, Holla!
Some young students from an SDC Head Start site are helping educate many people about the importance of proper dental care.
The students and staff from the SDC Head Start- North site are participating in the production of a series of videos by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
The group is making DVDs that will be used to inform the public as well as dental professionals and pre-school educators about the importance of early dental care.
A production crew spent a morning at the SDC Head Start site located on W. Concordia Avenue, shooting video of local dentist Dr. Cliff Hartman talking with preschoolers about dental care, interacting with staff as well as the young students brushing their teeth after a morning snack.
The video and interviews will become part of the DVDs that should be ready for nationwide distribution by the summer.
Dr. Hartman notes that the DVD’s will stress that it is vital to get young children to the dentist at an early age to get a quick jump on identifying and treating any oral health problems.
He adds that lack of dental care can lead to many problems for children including speech defects, health ailments and lack of self esteem.
By distributing the DVDs, he says parents, educators and dentists will learn why young children need to get early dental care so they can avoid those problems.
Dental care is a regular part of the Head Start curriculum. The SDC preschool program uses it along with health screenings, academic and social skill preparation and parental involvement to get children ready for kindergarten.
For information on the SDC Head Start program, call 414-906-2777.
Report finds they are more likely to develop, die from disease
By Amanda Gardner, HealthDay Reporter
Blacks are hit the hardest when it comes to both developing and dying from lung cancer. A new report from the American Lung Association paints a grim picture of how environmental factors, biological factors, cultural attitudes and biases in the health-care system conspire to make this deadly disease even deadlier among members of this minority group.
“Despite lower smoking rates, African-Americans are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than whites. African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed later when the cancer is more advanced. Also, African-Americans are more likely to wait longer after the diagnosis to receive treatment or perhaps to refuse treatment and to die in the hospital after surgery,” Dr. William J. Hicks, professor of clinical medicine at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in Columbus, said during a Monday news conference.
Black men bear an even more disproportionate share of the burden, being 37 percent more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and 22 percent more likely to die of the disease than white men.
Only 12 percent of blacks will be alive five years after their lung cancer diagnosis, compared with 16 percent of whites, the ALA report notes.
The report points to a number of factors that could explain the disparity, including differences in socioeconomic status, big business behavior and environmental exposure.
For instance, thanks to concerted marketing efforts by the tobacco industry, blacks have higher rates of smoking menthol cigarettes than other groups. Smokers of menthol cigarettes tend to have higher blood levels of cotinine, an indicator of how much nicotine a person is absorbing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a report on the public health impact of menthol cigarettes in March of 2011.
Education and income levels also play a role. Not only do these factors impact lifestyle choices and access to health care, including health insurance, but they largely determine where blacks are likely to work and live.
According to one study, predominantly black neighborhoods have noticeably higher levels of air pollution than other communities.
And a greater proportion of blacks work in the transportation industry, where they are exposed to diesel fumes, known to contribute to lung cancer risk.
Meanwhile, blacks are less likely to have a gene variant that is targeted by a widely used cancer drug.
The good news is that if individuals, regardless of race, receive equal treatment for lung cancer, their outcomes are likely to be similar.
However, as Hicks pointed out, “the sad truth is that not all patients receive equal treatment and for those who do not, their health outcomes are poorer.”
Blacks are also less likely to be seen by experienced or credentialed doctors and hospitals, less likely to have their disease staged, less likely to have surgery and less likely to undergo chemotherapy.
These problems have to do with both patient and provider attitudes.
“We’re looking not just at system failures but also at issues that are deeply rooted in the history, culture and beliefs of African-Americans,” Hicks said. “This is not post-racial America. For people of color in the United States, race and discrimination are facts of everyday life, and clearly take a toll both mentally and with regard to one’s physical health.”
There is, first of all, the legacy of the Tuskegee (syphilis) and other medical experiments of the past, in which blacks were exploited by the U.S. health-care establishment. That’s made trust in the medical establishment an ongoing issue, the experts said.
And while doctors appear less likely to funnel black patients to the right kind of specialists, blacks are more likely to refuse gold-standard treatment even when it is offered and available, they added.
“This is not an issue that can be solved overnight,” said Chuck D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We’ve made progress in reducing smoking rates and exposure to secondhand smoke, but there is still much work that needs to be done.”
Hicks said he hoped experts and community members could arrive at a new approach that will “hopefully render this very preventable form of cancer to its state of 125 years ago, when it was a very rarely encountered medical issue, primarily before the advent of widespread cigarette smoking.”