By Enola Aird, Esq.,Founder & President, Community Healing Network
It’s amazing how often the news media give big play to an academic report that tells us something Black mothers already knew. Another example of the old wisdom nothing is real until White people discover or acknowledge it. Does that seem harsh? Consider the splashy coverage given to a recent policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health.The AAP’s statement warned that the health dangers posed to children by racism “have become acute” and that racism, including racism experienced by the mother, “can have devastating long-term effects on children’s health.” It’s received plenty of favorable news coverage.But with all due respect, every Black mother in America has known this for as long as there have been Black mothers in America. And we didn’t need an academic statement to tell us. Every precious baby to whom we have given birth over the course of the last 600 years has come into a world that profoundly devalues Black life.What may be new to us is this devastating detail contained in the report: “The stress generated by experiences of racism may start through maternal exposures while in utero and continue after birth with the potential to create toxic stress. This transforms how the brain and body respond to stress, resulting in short- and long-term health impacts on achievement and mental and physical health. We see the manifestations of this stress as preterm births and low birth weights in newborns to subsequent development of heart disease, diabetes and depression as children become adults.”This should set off alarm bells throughout the Black community, particularly for Black mothers.We urgently need to find a way to protect the health and wellbeing of our beloved children in light of this deepening health crisis, the recent mass shootings in which children were among the victims-and the resurgence of White supremacy.Let’s begin with the AAP’s entirely accurate description of racism as “a socially transmitted disease passed down through generations leading to the inequities observed in our population today.”Exactly right. Here in the United States and around the world, Black children are seen as “less than” — less beautiful, less lovable, less capable, less intelligent, less worthy and less valuable.The AAP has made a range of reasonable recommendations using the usual language from our culture’s standard dictionary on racism, including “racial equality,” “racial equity,” “institutional structures,” and “implicit and explicit biases.” They point to the need for strategies to “optimize clinical care, workforce development, professional education, systems engagement and research in a manner designed to reduce the health effects of structural, personally mediated, and internalized racism, and improve the health and well-being of all children.”These are all good ideas, but we’ve heard some version of them before.What’s missing is a diagnosis and a cure that get to the root of the problem.So what can we, Black people, do to open the door to fresh recommendations that will yield something new and much better for our children? We can pinpoint the root cause of all the harms the AAP describes. It is the myth of Black inferiority.That myth — or as I prefer to call it, the lie — of Black inferiority, was devised centuries ago to justify the enslavement of African people. It dehumanized Black people, and placed us and our children at the bottom rung of humanity.Do you wonder why, with all the constitutional amendments and legislation and court decisions aimed at promoting racial equality, the same problems persist- and seem to be getting worse? It’s because the lie continues to negatively affect the world’s perceptions of Black children and Black children’s perceptions of themselves.The lie is at the root of the glaring disparities between Black and White children in health, safety, education, employment, wealth, mass incarceration, and nearly every other area of life. It is the reason why our children’s lives are devalued. It is the reason why doing anything while Black can be dangerous, and even deadly.The lie of Black inferiority is at the root of countless lost dreams, lost hopes, and lost lives. As a Black mother, I say that unless we, Black people, insist that pediatricians and anyone else concerned about the well being of Black children have the insight and courage to name and aggressively address that root cause, our children will continue to be devastated.###Established in 2006, Community Healing Network (CHN) is a not-for-profit organization based in New Haven, CT. Since CHN was launched, its primary mission has been to actively address the psychological damage that people of African ancestry have suffered because of the centuries-old “lie” that Black people are inferior. CHN, in collaboration with the Association of Black Psychologists, is leading a global movement to train thousands of Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circle support group leaders across the Diaspora to heal the wounds of racism and create a new culture of emotional healing, wellness and empowerment in Black communities. For more information, go to https://www. communityhealingnet.org.
A resolution that would explore avenues for litigation to recover expenses incurred by the city from the opioid crisis was unanimously recommended for approval on Monday, July 22 before the Common Council’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee.
File #190458, sponsored by Common Council Alderman Michael J. Murphy, authorizes the City Attorney to investigate litigation options and file suit against drug makers, distributors, and other parties that may be responsible for damages incurred by the City of Milwaukee due to the creation and perpetuation of the opioid epidemic.
Alderman Murphy, co-chair of the City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force, stated, “Opioid addiction has been a costly plague for the City of Milwaukee and exploring avenues such as this helps the City explore the option of seeking damages from drug-makers. Thousands of governmental entities throughout the United States are filing lawsuits against those companies and distributors engaged in marketing prescription opioids and we can now look at whether we should also move in that direction.”
The file will now go before the full Common Council when it meets at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 30 in the 3rd floor Council Chamber at City Hall, 200 E Wells St.
The Council meeting on Tuesday, July 30 will be televised live on the City Channel (Channel 25 on Spectrum Cable and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99) in the City of Milwaukee. It can also be viewed via streaming video on the City website at milwaukee.gov/Channel25.
Statement of Alderman Michael J. Murphy
July 23, 2019
Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 24), the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network’s (WAATPN) Single Cigarette Subcommittee will launch its “No Singles/No Loosies” campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the problems associated with the illegal sale of single cigarettes (cigarettes out of the pack) in the City of Milwaukee.
I am a staunch supporter of this campaign and have been working diligently to eliminate access to tobacco and e-cigarettes among young people.
Thanks to successful legislation I sponsored, last year the city increased the fine for retailers caught selling single cigarettes (“loosies”) to $691. The fine for selling single cigarettes had been $181 for a first offense and $321 for second and subsequent offenses.
The No Singles/No Loosies subcommittee is chaired by the American Cancer Society and Hayat Pharmacy, and includes community members and retailers from across the city. Together, they are working together to end the sale of single cigarettes in Milwaukee. The sale of single cigarettes are a contributor to the state’s high smoking rate for African-Americans, which is nearly double that of the general population, and also increases the chances that young people can afford and illegally purchase cigarettes.
The WAATPN is working to eliminate tobacco related health disparities and address unequal marketing practices of corporate tobacco companies in the central city, and I applaud WAATPN’s leadership in ensuring the safety and health of our community, especially youth under 18 who are at increased risk of obtaining tobacco products sold in this illegal manner.
MILWAUKEE – The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) is looking to re-brand— giving it a distinct identity, which results in clear and positive public recognition and understanding of the programs and services provided to the community.
MHD worked with 2-Story, who developed three (3) brand options for the department. The community is highly encouraged to provide their feedback on these options, keeping in mind that a brand is more than a logo. Voting ends at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 10th. The most popular brand option will be selected.
It is with high hope that the department’s re-brand revitalizes, refreshes, and renews the spirit of residents, community leaders, and stakeholders. MHD looks forward to carrying forth its mission of advancing the health and equity of Milwaukeeans through science, innovation, and leadership.
Please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MHD_Rebrand to cast your vote.
Milwaukee, WI— Wisconsin citizens continue to hear from government, health care, and community groups that support dental therapy as one solution to help to end the oral health crisis in Wisconsin. Experts with varying political views agree that dental therapists can serve Wisconsin families. This week government, health care and community leaders met at Next Door, a neighborhood community center in Milwaukee to discuss a plan that help alleviate the crisis.
Dental therapists, providers similar to physician assistants in medicine that work under the supervision of a dentist, could help underserved populations including children, veterans, and older Americans. A large and growing coalition of more than 50 groups across the political spectrum have endorsed this crucial oral health care role. Some of the many groups include schools,hospitals, health plans, and public policy groups.
Wisconsin State Rep. Mary Felzkowski, who has authored a bill that would allow the licensing of dental therapists said “This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue. This is one more tool in the toolbox to help us get the dental care to the people who need it.”
Most Wisconsin counties – 64 of 72– face dental shortages, affecting 1.2 million residents. And, in Wisconsin more than 41,000 emergency room visits for preventable dental conditions were reported by hospitals in the most recently available annual data, representing nearly $25 million in hospital charges.
At a recent community event on oral health care Dr. Emilia Arana, a Pediatrician at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers in Milwaukee said “Dental caries is an extremely common infectious disease. Caries is the most common chronic condition of children and it is preventable. Dental decay is five times more common than asthma. It’s four times more common than obesity and twenty times more common than diabetes. It affects quality of life and has a negative effect on a child’s health and performance. Dental therapy is the next level of care we need. I’m hopeful it will be approved.”
Currently, dental therapists are authorized to practice in 10 states, and at least a dozen more are considering legislation. Michigan authorized the profession late last year In Minnesota, where dental therapy was authorized in 2009, communities across the state have seen an increase in overall oral health care access. Authorizing dental therapists in Wisconsin could provide similar results for Wisconsin families
MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolutionfrom Supervisor Felesia Martin today to raise public awareness about lupus, a chronic auto- immune disease that affects more than 1.5 million Americans.
“Lupus is a debilitating disease that affects people of color at higher rates than the national average, but African Americans and Asians, as well as those with only a high school education, are most at risk for delays in care. We urgently need to raise public awareness and increase education about Lupus, so people can get an accurate diagnosis and the care they need,” said Supervisor Martin.
People afflicted by Lupus report waiting an average of six years for an accurate diagnosis after first noticing symptoms. About 92 percent Whites and 85 percent of Hispanics were referred to a specialist within the first three months of a diagnosis, compared to 64 percent of African Americans, and 66 percent of Asians.
African American and Hispanic women with Lupus frequently suffer adverse pregnancy outcomes more often than White women.
Approximately 16,000 new cases of Lupus are reported each year.
The NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment will host a public listening session on Thursday, May 16, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. EDT, to hear from victims of sexual harassment and advocates against sexual violence and for equal opportunity in the workplace. This listening session is an opportunity for the public to provide input to the Working Group as it develops recommendations to deliver to the ACD. A facilitator will guide the conversation based on a series of questions. Attendees can provide input either publicly or anonymously. The listening session will be held in the NIH National Library of Medicine (Building 38A) Lister Hill Auditorium. The listening session is free to attend, but registration is required.
Please note that the listening session is not a forum for making or addressing allegations of sexual harassment. Please see the NIH Anti-Sexual Harassment website for information about how NIH staff can report an allegation or how individuals at NIH-funded institutions can inform NIH of an allegation.
Additional information about the listening session, including how to register can be found at: https://cvent.me/ZkN8a. Sign language interpretation will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations to participate in this event should contact Jennifer Plank-Bazinet, NIH Office of Science Policy, at [email protected]. The listening session will also be available for viewing through NIH videocast.
By Laura L. Otto
The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are often subtle, such as when a grandparent’s family recipes start to taste a bit different. Many families don’t seek medical help for their loved ones until these small changes give way to bigger problems.
But paying attention to such changes is important, especially for African American and Latino families, who tend to be hit particularly hard by dementia.Research has indicated that Alzheimer’s disease strikes African Americans twice as often as whites, and the disease occurs 1.5 times more often in Latinos than whites.
“In these communities, in-home caregiving of a family member with dementia lasts longer for a variety of reasons, including access to care,” says Melinda Kavanaugh, a UWM associate professor of social welfare.
With support from the National Institute on Aging, Kavanaugh and several community partners are launching a two-year project that will help African American and Latino families better avert “crisis points.” These are potentially dangerous incidents involving someone with dementia, such as leaving the stove unattended or getting lost outside the home.
Sometimes, even these kinds of incidents pass without registering as something serious. “You can see a family that is in crisis,” Kavanaugh says. “They may not recognize it because, to them, it’s normal.”
The project’s aim is to collect representative examples of the early indicators of advancing memory loss. The goal: head off disaster by providing this information to families and health care providers of people who haven’t yet reached a crisis point. This advanced notice gives families of patients more time to plan needed care, Kavanaugh says.
The researchers will consult with professional caregivers, social workers and family members – including the youth who often care for affected family members after school while parents are still at work. Their observations have not been integrated in previous work.
More than 1.4 million children and teens in the United States provide care to a family member. These youth assist with everything from bathing and feeding to administering medications and monitoring activities to ensure safety. And youth may be more tuned-in to changes in family members because the period of care between school ending and parents returning from work is often a regular routine.
The project came about through longstanding relationships Kavanaugh has with community groups, such as the United Community Center, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Milwaukee County Department on Aging. These organizations, Kavanaugh says, bring a focus on the project’s cultural aspects.
For example, many people in minority communities are reluctant to seek a diagnosis for fear of the stigma. For many African Americans, engaging with medical practitioners is fraught with distrust. And language can be a barrier for Latinos.
“From this study, we’ll have details of how we can intervene earlier in populations that already are not getting the care they need,” Kavanaugh says.
Virginia Zerpa, community outreach coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Southeastern Wisconsin chapter, says Latino and African American families are less likely to recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia than white families. This results in a diagnosis not being made until the disease’s later stages.
One reason families don’t seek outside help, Zerpa says, is that they may not know help is available. Most Latin American countries do not have the kind of assistance for the elderly that exists in the United States. Another reason may be privacy-related, Zerpa says, with people tending to rely on their own family members for assistance.
“Because of this,” Kavanaugh says, “it’s important to develop focused, early interventions that are culturally relevant that would be supportive for families.”