Tri-State Defender National Stories


Nikole Hannah-Jones’ essay from ‘The 1619 Project’ wins commentary Pulitzer

by Tom Jones -- (POYNTER) --  Of all the thousands upon thousands of stories and projects produced by American media last year, perhaps the one most-talked about was The New York Times Magazine’s ambitious “The 1619 Project,” which recognized the 400th anniversary of the moment enslaved Africans...

Pulitzers honor Ida B. Wells, an early pioneer of investigative journalism and civil rights icon

by Barbara Allen -- (Poynter) -- In granting a posthumous citation to Ida B. Wells, the Pulitzer Prizes honors one of America’s earliest and most intrepid investigative reporters. Pultizer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones on Twitter:   Ida B. Wells was born a slave in Mississippi in 1862....

Black Americans are living longer, but need more to improve their lives

By theGrio

While the National Urban League’s State of Black America 2017 report, which was issued Tuesday, is optimistic on some points, it still outlines a lack of access to opportunities for growth and improvement for African-Americans in the United States. More African-Americans are going to college now, and life expectancy is increasing. Both of those are good things, but they are counterbalanced by the report’s other points: unemployment is twice as high for African-Americans as for white people, and the average African-American household only brings in half as much income as the average white household. Those wealth disparities haven’t changed in about four decades. “If you are middle class and African American in this country, there is no guarantee that your children will be middle class,” Urban League President Marc Morial said in an interview. “We are seeing many instances of second-generation African American middle class falling into the lower middle class and back into poverty.” Joshua Holland, writing for the Nation in August, noted, “If current economic trends continue, the average black household will need 228 years to accumulate as much wealth as their white counterparts hold today. Absent significant policy interventions, or a seismic change in the American economy, people of color will never close the gap.” Morial spoke to declining voter turnout and said there was a need for more involvement if the black community can ever hope to see help in this regard from its elected leaders. “In state, local and off-year elections, black voter turnout has been low, and it’s trending lower,” Morial said. “At the same time, you have voter suppression efforts underway in more than half the states, which can have an adverse impact on over 50 percent of African American voters, you have declining participation among blacks in the political process.”

Study proves black teachers have a significant impact on black students

By Maya A. Jones, The Undefeated

May 8 kicks off National Teacher Appreciation Week, a celebration set aside to formally recognize educators. Traditionally, the observance occurs the first week in May. This year the annual celebration was moved, so The Undefeated will preview the week with inspiring stories centered on education, and next week we will continue with highlights of teachers and those who work in the field. The relationship between black students and black teachers is saving academic careers, and a new study is out to prove it. The study, The Long Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers, conducted by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, found that low-income black students who have had at least one black teacher during their early academic career have higher chances of graduating from high school and attending college. Out of the 100,000 black students entering third grade in North Carolina public schools between 2001 and 2005 whom the study focused on, nearly 13 percent dropped out of high school while the remainder of students finished high school, but expressed no interest in attending college. The students who had at least one black teacher throughout those years were less likely to drop out, and more likely to express interest in college (18 percent). Black male students from low-income families who were exposed to at least one black teacher were the highest group to express interest in college (29 percent). “Black students matched to black teachers have been shown to have higher test scores, but we wanted to know if these student-teacher racial matches had longer-lasting benefits,” said Nicholas Papageorge, the study’s co-author and an assistant professor in the department of economics at Johns Hopkins. “We found the answer is a resounding yes. We’re seeing spending just one year with a teacher of the same race can move the dial on one of the most frustratingly persistent gaps in educational attainment — that of low-income black boys. It not only moves the dial, it moves the dial in a powerful way.” In cases of black children from low-income families who were introduced to at least one black teacher between third and fifth grades, the likelihood of dropping out of school decreased to 29 percent. For black male students from low-income families who were introduced to at least one black teacher between third and fifth grades, the probability fell to 39 percent. To validate their most recent findings, the study’s researchers aligned their work with that of Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio), a study conducted in Tennessee in the 1980s that focused on a class size reduction. Black students who entered kindergarten were randomly assigned to various class sizes, and their learning patterns were monitored. The researchers’ findings about black students paired with black teachers were consistent with their own research, as 15 percent of black students in Project STAR who had at least one black teacher from kindergarten to third grade were less likely to drop out of school. Papageorge says ensuring the success of a larger number of low-income black students is as simple as schools seeing to it that these students have access to at least one black teacher, beginning early in their academic careers. “This isn’t a situation where students need two, three or four black teachers to make a difference,” Papageorge said. “This could be implementable tomorrow. You could literally go into a school right now and switch around the rosters so that every black child gets to face a black teacher.”

Black doctors earn less than white doctors

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire

African-American physicians earn 15 percent less than White physicians—an average of $262,000 compared to $303,000—according to Medscape’s 2017 Physicians Compensation Report. Approximately 19,200 physicians across 26 areas of medicine were asked questions about annual compensation, race, gender, geography and job satisfaction. The report, detailed by CBS News, revealed that African-American doctors are less likely to say they feel fairly compensated, with only half agreeing that they’re earning what they should. “Fifty-percent of African-American physicians don’t feel fairly compensated,” the report’s editor Leslie Kane, a senior director of Medscape Business of Medicine, told CBS. Racial and gender discrimination may certainly be a factor, Kane said, but there are other factors as well. For example, if a doctor treats more Medicaid patients, their reimbursement is usually lower, since employer-insured patients tend to pay better. How many hours a doctor works and whether they’re in private practice or a clinic can also explain some inequities in pay. “Tons of factors play into how much a physician makes,” she said. The survey found that the gender pay gap is narrower among younger doctors. Male doctors ages 55 to 69 make 27 percent more than women, but the divide shrinks to 18 percent in physicians under the age of 34. Being a doctor pays well, but there are still major discrepancies when it comes to paychecks within the medical profession. For the first time, the annual report looked at race as well as gender and other factors, revealing some significant disparities in pay. Physicians’ annual salaries averaged $294,000, with specialists earning about $100,000 more than primary care doctors. Overall, average pay has risen by $88,000 over the seven years Medscape has been conducting this survey—an increase attributed to intense competition for doctors among hospitals and health care systems. The three highest-paying specialties were orthopedics (average annual compensation: $489,000), plastic surgery ($440,000) and cardiology ($410,000). They earned well over twice as much as the average pediatrician ($202,000) and family physician ($209,000), the two lowest-paying categories. A deeper dive into the data shows male doctors take home bigger paychecks in both primary care and specialty areas such as orthopedics and surgery. Male primary care physicians made 15 percent more than women in 2016, while male specialists earned 31 percent more than their female colleagues. Part of the reason may be that women are more likely to choose lower-paying specialties, Kane said. “One of the things we look at is why there is this overall disparity. We look at what specialties women are going into and they go into less well-paying areas,” she said. “Fifty-three percent of pediatricians are women, one of lowest paid specialties. Thirty-nine percent of family physicians are women, also a lower-paying area,” Kane said. When it comes to the more highly paid medical specialties, only 9 percent of women are orthopedists and only 20 percent of general surgeons are female, Kane added. African-American doctors typically work in primary care rather than specialties, the survey noted. The annual compensation survey delved into race for the first time, said Kane, who has edited the report for seven years. The report revealed higher salaries in rural states. Doctors in North Dakota are the highest paid in the U.S. followed by Alaska, South Dakota and Nebraska. Washington D.C. counts as the lowest, while New York hovers toward the bottom of the list, which Kane and others chalk up to supply and demand; plenty of doctors cluster in big cities, while rural areas need to offer more money to attract staff. Patients may be glad to know that regardless of pay, most doctors like what they do: eight out of 10 physicians said they’d still choose medicine if they had the chance to pick a career all over again.

How to Change the World

By Michael Harriot, The Root

We are so often overwhelmed with complex issues and bad news that it is easy to forget the impact that a single individual can have on the world. Instead of highlighting the problems, sometimes it is necessary to find solutions for the problems around us, so we have created this handy guide that anyone can use as a resource to change the world around them. We here at The Root sifted through hundreds of online resources and found the most effective online tools for change. We based our results on ease of use and the effectiveness of the results. While this may not serve as a magic wand, if every individual uses these tools, the small, incremental actions could actually change the world. Register to Vote Voting is the single greatest thing you can do to effect change in America. While there are a number of online tools that allow you to register to vote, Rock the Vote seems to be the simplest and most comprehensive, because it uses one form for all users. It also features a portal for people who want to raise their level of activism by registering others to vote. Vote Once you register, you have to actually go to the polls and cast your ballot. is the best resource we could find for information on voting. Fill out the address form, and it will give you poll locations, rules on absentee voting, registration deadlines, election dates and even debate schedules. Contact Your Elected Officials The Common Cause website has an excellent tool for finding the contact information for your elected officials. Simply type in an address and the site lists the names, phone numbers and email addresses of the senators, congressperson and state representative for that location. The U.S. Conference of Mayors website will help you find and contact your mayor using your zip code. One of the most effective ways to effect change is to add these addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to your cellphone’s contact list. Whenever an issue arises that concerns you—whether it’s a pothole or a Senate bill—call and email someone about it. In your message, make sure you inform them that you are a voter in the district, state or town they represent. Fight Injustice “If you see something, say something” does not apply just to terrorism. You should report misconduct anytime you see it. The ACLU has created the Mobile Justice app, which allows citizens to report police misconduct, and every citizen can download it to their cellphone. It records video, takes an actual report and sends it to the appropriate agency. The app varies from state to state, but you can find your state-specific app by visiting the website. The best way to report other incidents of misconduct and crime is to contact the most dogged source working for citizens today: your local newspaper or television station. Most journalists love a juicy story, and sometimes you’ll get better results than working through official channels. If your location settings are turned on in your web browser, the best way to find the news outlet nearest you is to Google “local newspaper” or “local news station.” Help Someone We looked at a number of resources for people who are willing to volunteer their time and effort, and found three with the easiest and most comprehensive tools for matching you with a volunteer opportunity: 1- boasts more than 113 organizations with whom it has matched over 12 million volunteers. 2- lets charities and prospective volunteers sign up and connect on its site. 3- connects people and creates volunteer campaigns for people who want to address certain needs. You can create your own campaign to clean up a city or volunteer at a local school. Bookmark this page and use it as a resource whenever you need it. No one is saying that you can change the world by yourself, but why not try? Plus, you only have about six more months before Donald Trump blows it up, anyway.

Earth Day 2017:

By The Telegraph What is Earth Day? Earth Day began in America in 1970 as a day to celebrate the planet and encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. It is now an ann...

‘NO DO-OVERS’ on 2020 Census

By Honora Montano, New America Media

With the 2020 Census three years out, civil rights groups and census experts are sounding the alarm that pending actions by the Trump administration and Congress could severely hamper an accurate count of all communities. “Congress’ failure over the past few years to pay for rigorous 2020 Census planning, and now the Trump Administration’s insufficient budget request for 2018, will strike at the heart of operations specifically designed to make the census better in historically undercounted communities,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, former staff director with the House Subcommittee on Census and Population. She spoke during a national press call hosted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The call was moderated by Wade Henderson, president and CEO of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The decennial census is by far the most important and critical tool in our country to ensure that diverse communities are equitably served with government resources and that the American people are adequately represented at all levels of government,” said Henderson. “The census is required by the U.S. Constitution and policymakers are responsible for making sure the job gets done right. All of us must insist that they do that because there are no do-overs.” Currently the Census Bureau is being funded at 2016 levels, as Congress has not approved final spending bills for 2017. The bureau has requested a 25 percent “ramp up” for preparation activities. But President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal recommends keeping funding levels where they are currently, $1.5 billion. Census advocates say this is a crucial time for laying the groundwork and are calling for Congress to reject the administration’s budget proposal in favor of one that covers all preparation activities. A ‘major civil rights issue’ Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability office deemed the 2020 Census a “high risk federal program,” in part because the U.S. Census Bureau is planning to utilize several never-before used strategies – such as collecting responses over the Internet – but may not have the time and resources to adequately develop and test them. Budget limitations have already hindered major preparations, including the cancellation of tests of new methods in Puerto Rico and on two American Indian reservations, and resulted in mailed tests rather than electronic or in-person ones, as well as delayed community outreach and advertising campaigns. Advocates say current funding shortfalls will result in many people – particularly black, Latino and rural households, and families with young children – being missed by the count. Arturo Vargas is the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. He calls the underfunding of the census a major civil rights issue for Latinos and other communities of color. “A successful 2020 Census is not possible if Latinos are not accurately counted,” Vargas said. Millions of Latinos, the second largest ethnic group in the U.S., were missed in the 2010 census, including 400,000 children under four, according to Vargas. For each uncounted person, state governments and communities lose thousands of federal aid dollars, which go to anti-poverty programs, education, infrastructure, emergency services, healthcare and other programs. An undercount can also trigger changes in political representation – from redrawn district lines, to fewer seats in local, state and federal offices, often diminishing the power of communities of color. Advocates say that new cost-saving strategies like collecting responses over the Internet rather than paper forms require investments on the front end. Delayed preparations cannot be made up later. Surveys administered online may also be hampered by the “digital divide” if adequate field tests are not taken. Lack of access to broadband and the Internet may make it “more challenging to (reach) those historically left out of the census in the first place,” Vargas warns. The ‘first high tech census’ The first “high tech” census also opens the door to cyber security concerns, which have been exacerbated of late by evidence of foreign attacks on the 2016 presidential elections. Such concerns could make Americans even more hesitant to participate. Lowenthal says she and other advocates must be prepared for a “wild card” event, such as President Trump publically questioning the importance of the census via social media. “One errant tweet could shake public confidence and in the process depress participation and undermine faith in the results, conceivably all the way to the halls of Congress,” Lowenthal said. Census advocates are eyeing several other threats to the decennial count and its yearly counterpart, the American Community Survey. The ACS is sent yearly to about 1 in 38 households to collect demographic data on everything from employment and home-ownership to educational attainment. Republicans in Congress are pushing to make participation in the ACS voluntary, which could severely damage the data, says John C. Yang, president and executive director of the non-profit advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “The ACS updates the Census throughout the decade. As such it is required by law and must remain so to provide the vital info needed from our communities,” Yang said, emphasizing that the ACS is the only source for detailed data of ethnic subgroups, such as Vietnamese of Chinese descent. Census advocates are also on high alert because an unsigned leaked executive order, titled “Protecting American Workers from Immigrant Labor,” referenced a directive to the Census Bureau to collect data on immigration status. Advocates are alarmed by the intentions behind this unsigned order. “Latinos and other immigrant families are keenly aware of heightened immigrant enforcement actions in their communities, and this may increase distrust in contact with public agencies including the Census Bureau,” Vargas said.

Suspect in Facebook video killing shoots himself to death

By Mark Gillespie, The Associated Press The man who randomly killed a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook shot himself to death on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, ...

Black women in D.C. bring to life the untold stories of overlooked Black women in Civil War history

By Monique Judge, The Root

A group of Black women in Washington, D.C., are part of an acting troupe that gives voice to the nameless, faceless Black women of the Civil War in a different spin on re-enactment groups. Female Re-Enactors of Distinction (FREED) was founded in 2005 in association with the African American Civil War Museum in D.C., and its goal is to bring to life characters from the 19th century who are the most overlooked in history books: Black women. According to the Washington Post, the group came together after a group of women donned period dress at a museum event that commemorated the establishment of the U.S. Bureau of Colored Troops during the Civil War. FREED co-founder Pat Tyson told the Post that the women drew so much attention that day, they were “stopping traffic on the street.” Tyson said that Americans forget Black people were more than just southern victims and that Black writers, political activists, doctors, nurses and soldiers helped bring victory to the North and advance the cause of civil rights in decades beyond. “All that they were used to from movies was African Americans working out in the fields in rags,” Tyson said. Tyson, who is a former secretary for the State Department, portrays Hallie Quinn Brown (1850-1949), the daughter of former slaves who became a schoolteacher, college professor and organizer. Brown also toured Europe, giving lectures on African American life, and she also appeared before Queen Victoria. Brown is not a household name like Harriet Tubman, the Post notes, but Tyson brings her to life for a modern audience. Frank Smith, a former D.C. councilman and founding director of the African American Civil War Museum, told the Post that the links FREED builds with the past are more important than ever. “African American history is pretty much lost,” Smith said. “For many years, the Confederacy owned the narrative . . . in the last 15 or so years, we’ve been trying to turn that around.” What an amazing tribute and a shining example of #BlackGirlMagic. Read more at the Washington Post.