Tri-State Defender National Stories


Study: Racial discrimination still plays role in lack of black educators

By theGrio

According to a recent Harvard Educational Review study, the shortage of black teachers in the United States isn’t just an issue of recruitment and retention but one of outright racial bias and discrimination. The study looked at the hiring patterns of an unidentified public school district and found that, while both black and white teachers were equally qualified, white teachers were hired at a disproportionately higher rate. In 2012, black applicants made up 13 percent of applicants but were only hired at a rate of 6 percent, while white teachers were 70 percent of applicants but made up 77 percent of those hired. “I think this is just another example of how ideas about race and racism, to be frank, are deeply embedded in the schools,” said study author and researcher Diana D’Amico, who is an assistant professor at George Mason University. “The other thing is, if there are these racial assumptions that inhibit the hiring of black individuals, I wonder how those same perceptions influence teachers once they’re already in the system.” Beyond the racial bias of hiring, the study also found that black teachers were disproportionately more likely to be hired at schools where there was a black principal or at schools with more low-income and minority students.

The worst states for fighting lung cancer (Where is yours on the list?)


Even with the ongoing print and TV advertisements pointing out the obvious affects of cigarettes, lung cancer still continues to be one of the highest cancer killers across the U.S. There are more than 200,000 cases of the deadly disease in the U.S. each year, according to the American Cancer Society, affecting more men than women. As a result, about 156,000 people are expected to die from lung cancer in 2017. To advance the conversation, ranked the U.S. states with the worst statistics for lung cancer. See if your state made the list. Georgia The Peach State ranked no. 1 for having the lowest price for a pack of cigarettes. Georgia also came in second for having the lowest cigarette taxes. These two things are all bad for the fight against lung cancer, as the low cost is appealing to teens interested in trying cigarettes or longtime smokers trying to kick the habit. A pack of cigarettes in a state like Alaska, for example, is about $9.79 compared to $6.39 in Georgia, according to The Motley Fool. Louisiana Researchers found Louisiana to have the highest number of adult tobacco consumers per capita compared to Utah, which had the lowest number. Nebraska Surprisingly, Nebraska had the lowest percentage of smokers who tried to kick the habit. Maryland, on the other hand, ranked no. 1 for its percentage of smokers who tried to quit at least once. The contrast is interesting, however, as both states have a smoking ban on indoor workplaces and public spaces. Tennessee This southern state has the highest death rate from lung cancer at the time of the study, though; Kentucky led the statistic in 2017 with 85 deaths per 100,000 people and Tennessee with 72-73 deaths per 100,000 people. Other states on the list include Maine, Arkansas and West Virginia. On the other end of the spectrum, Utah again ranked no. 1 in the lowest death rate from lung cancer – followed by Colorado, California, Washington D.C. and Texas. Tennessee (again): Country music’s home state tops the list again for the highest estimate of new lung cancer cases per capita – alongside Florida, Maine, Kentucky and West Virginia. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Tennessee rank fell in the 68 to 93 percent range for incident rates of lung cancer. Comparatively, again, Utah came in no. 1 for its lowest estimate of new lung cancer cases per capita, along with Colorado, California, Washington D.C. and New Mexico. Click here for full list

Parental engagement key to success for Every Student Succeeds Act

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), President Barack Obama’s education law, states and local school districts are required to intervene in the lowest-performing schools, including those that serve low-income children and minorities. That requirement has educators, parents and community stakeholders searching for innovative strategies to fulfill the mandate, as the law begins to take effect next school year. “Interventions can be anything from changing the principal or some of the personnel to closing the schools, converting them to charter schools or transferring the students to better schools,” said Marilyn Rhames, a 2016 Surge Institute Fellow, parent of three school-aged children and an alumni support manager at a K-8 charter school in Chicago. Rhames and other parents, who also work in education and in organizations like the National Black Parents Association (NBPA), said that, historically, school officials tend to make cosmetic changes that don’t necessarily address the problems; parents might find this frustratingly ineffective. Rhames continued: “It’s not clear which path states will take right now but, historically, they’ve not closed many schools.” Further, history has shown that, without pressure from parents, schools don’t always provide the right instruction or atmosphere for children of color and the ESSA law should help to ease that problem, said Andrea Flake, a mother of four K-12 students. Flake is a member in the northeast chapter of the NBPA. “The more we know the truth about what is going on in the classroom, we, as parents, can band together and put the proper pressure on educators to make sure our kids are getting what they need and certainly what they deserve,” Flake said. ESSA promises to advance equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged, high-need, and minority students, said Dr. Allen Lipscomb, a professor at the College of Social & Behavioral Science at Cal State University Northridge. “Addressing not only academic needs, but mental health needs and what trauma looks like…these identity markers play a crucial role in students’ ability to succeed,” Lipscomb said. Rhames said that parents need the truth, which should include student testing data, parental surveys and discipline reports. “Schools need to listen to parents,” Rhames added. A report released in March by the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute in Washington, D.C., revealed that 90 percent of African-American community leaders believe that they have a strong responsibility to help improve the education that Black students receive. Researchers offered four recommendations to improve the education of Black students including expanding community networks to further advocacy efforts; providing leaders with the tools to advocate for Black youth; championing the message of positive African-American community engagement in education; and being involved. “As the ESSA implementation moves forward, there are various ways that Black leaders can help shape education reform at the local and state levels,” Brian Bridges, a co-author of the new report, said in a statement. “[This] is a call to action for Black leaders to use their influence to not only highlight the crisis in education for Black youth, but to also find tangible ways to get involved. Bridges said that, when it comes to the implementation of ESSA, parents need to get involved immediately and not wait. So, where should parents go for more information about the ESSA law? “There are organizations like Education Trust, as well as civil rights organizations like Leadership Council for Civil Rights that are paying more and more attention to the educational quality for children of color,” Rhames said. “But the truth is, our local schools need to work harder to engage parents. At the same time, some parents also need to engage more.” Rhames continued: “Parents should spend time with their children and teachers and ask as many questions as they can. And, they should not go away until the answers satisfy them.” Regulations to implement the data reporting requirements should promote universal access to cross-tabulated data and expand on the availability of data disaggregated by categories, Education Trust officials said, adding that technical assistance should also encourage districts and states to collect and report data in this further disaggregated manner. “The biggest impact on children is that the current law, like the old law, requires annual testing in math and reading so we know how the kids are doing,” Rhames said. “But, the new law could make it harder for parents to understand whether the school is really doing its job. Some states are making it more complicated than it needs to be by eliminating summative ratings.” Rhames added: “A lot of states are getting rid of the A-F rating system, which some people criticize as simplistic, but at least you get it. How schools are rated needs to be simple and clear so that parents understand it and can act accordingly.”

NY becomes 1st state to OK free tuition at public colleges for eligible students

By Breanna Edwards, The Root

You get a degree! Everybody gets a degree! New York just cleared the way to become the first state in the United States to make tuition free for middle- and low-income students at two- and four-year public colleges. Gov. Andrew Cuomo first introduced the plan in January, with lawmakers agreeing to include it in the state budget. Over the weekend, that budget was approved by the Assembly Saturday and by the Senate Sunday night. Cuomo is expected to officially sign the budget bills, according to CNN Money. The plan will be phased in over three years, with tuition being free for residents who earn up to a specific income cap. In the fall, undergrad students who attend State University of New York or City University of New York schools will be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship if their families earn no more than $100,000 a year. That cap will lift to $110,000 the next year and ultimately reach up to $125,000 in 2019. Eligible students will pay nothing for tuition, which averages about $6,470 annually at four-year institutions and about $4,530 at two-year colleges. However, students will still have to pay for room and board if they live on campus, which can add up to an extra $14,000 a year, CNN notes. In addition, those eligible to receive the scholarship must take 30 credits a year—a requirement that has drawn criticism from some lawmakers as it excludes part-time students. According to CNN Money, in the final proposal, Cuomo said the 30-credit requirement will be “flexible,” allowing students who may have difficulties to pause and restart the program, or take fewer credits one semester. Per the initiative, students who do get the scholarship must live and work in New York after graduation for the same amount of years as they receive funding. Those who do choose to leave the state will have the scholarship converted into a loan. “Today, college is what high school was—it should always be an option even if you can’t afford it,” Cuomo said in a statement. The governor’s office estimated that the scholarship will cost some $163 million the first year, however, some lawmakers are skeptical. A whopping 200,000 students are expected to be eligible for the program once the ball gets rolling. The scholarship is meant to complement other federal and state grants, as the report notes. Half of full-time SUNY students and more than 60 percent of CUNY students already do not pay for tuition because of Pell Grants or New York Tuition Assistance Grants. Those students will not be eligible for the scholarship. Due to criticism from Republicans that the initial proposal excluded students at private colleges, the final budget also includes an additional $19 million to assist those private school students whose families earn less than the income cap. Those students can receive up to $3,000. Private schools that participate in the new financial assistance program for private schools would have to match that funding and promise not to raise those students’ tuition during their enrollment.

5 things you need to know about U.S. strike on Syria

By Jeff Mays, NewsOne

President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles Thursday at a Syrian military base following the country’s suspected use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed over 100 people. The attack marks a shift in Trump’s and the United State’s stance toward Syria which has been engaged in a devastating civil war for almost seven years now. Trump has tweeted over the last few years that the U.S. should not get involved in the Syrian conflict and he criticized President Obama for wanting to initiate possible air strikes. That all changed with the launch of dozens of missiles. “When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines,” Trump said, according to CNN. The U.S. missile strike could have deep implications with Russia already condemning Trump’s actions. Here’s five facts you need to know about the conflict in Syria. The current conflict started out as peaceful protests. The protests were part of what is known as the Arab Spring. In December 2010, protests in Tunisia launched the peaceful protests against autocratic regimes that spread to several other Middle Easter countries, including Syria. In March 2011, the peaceful protests turned violent after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began a violent crackdown. That lead to rebels organizing to resist al-Assad. Syrian army defectors aligned themselves with many civilians and formed the Free Syrian Army. The violent conflict that took hold in Damascus and the ancient city of Aleppo has spread to many parts of the country. And now the conflict is growing ever more complicated with the addition of grops such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. many experts believe the Syrian war is also a proxy war between Russia and the United States, reminiscent of the Cold War. Who is Bashar al-Assad? Syria’s current leader took control in 2000 following his father’s death after a three decade reign. He is trained as a doctor and was not in line to be the next leader but his older brother died in a car crash. He was educated in London and gave western governments hope that he would be more moderate. He started down the path, making some reforms before shifting. How many people have died in the conflict? The United Nations estimates that more than 400,000 people have died during the bloody civil war. Christy Delafield, a senior communications officer at Mercy Corps, one of the largest humanitarian aid groups helping hundreds of thousands of Syrians with food and other basic necessities, said some of the remaining schools have taken to holding classes literally underground to protect children from airstrikes. The use of chemical weapons that Trump says prompted the U.S. military response is not the first time the outlawed weapons have been used in Syria. “The conflict has been unpredictable and continuously changing. There have been air strikes and aerial bombings and there are issues with protection of aid workers. We’ve seen hospitals hit,” Delafield told NewsOne in an interview Friday. The Syrian war has caused the largest refugee crisis since World War II There are an estimated 5 million Syrian refugees living outside of Syria, many in neighboring countries. Turkey has 3 million Syrian refugees, Lebanon has 1 million, while there are 700,000 refugees in Jordan and 230,000 in Iraq, which is experiencing it’s own difficulties. Inside Syria, there are estimates that 6 million people have fled their homes to find safety. Syria’s pre-war population was approximately 22 million people. “Half the population is on the run. Half have fled for their safety and their family’s safety,” said Delafield. “For civilians the front lines are moving around them. They have fled many times but there isn’t a safe place in Syria. The humanitarian crisis is causing massive problems. Aid organizations are straining to meet the needs of millions of people.” In Lebanon and Jordan, the World Food Program has had to cut the amount of aid it is able to give. Water infrastructure, medical facilities and schools are stretched to the limit and there are tensions between the resettled Syrian refugees and the native populations where they are being placed. What can Americans do? Delafield said cash assistance to organizations such as Mercy Corps which is on the ground in the region is the best way to help Syrians now due to the overwhelming need. “There isn’t enough aid to support the people in need and there have been cuts to the food aid,” she said. The United States is also set to cut its foreign aid budget which currently makes up 1 percent of the U.S. budget. “We are concerned about the effect those cuts would have on Syria. We encourage people to reach out to their elected officials and support more foreign aid,” said Delafield. But there is only one thing that will really help the Syrian people. “The only thing that will really put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people is an end to the conflict,” Delafield added. See more on story here

A conspiracy theorist’s guide to the US Attack on Syria

By Stephen A. Crockett, The Root

This lying-a$$ administration will make a conspiracy theorist out of the best of us. Because I don’t believe anything that anyone representing President Vladimir TrumPutin has to say, when word came out that the U.S. had bombed Syria, I was immediately skeptical. Sure, I’d seen the heartbreaking photos of children being killed in a reported gas attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad. I, like anyone else who’d seen those photos, was moved, but I’ve learned, in less than 100 days, that anything coming from this administration is to be taken with a half-gallon of salt. President TrumPutin has given me no reason to believe that he’s anything other than a con artist with bad hair and bad skin. I don’t believe he has a heart, so his acting as if those photos moved him to military action feels like the kind of swarmy st that this administration lives for. I’m not a historian on Syrian-U.S. relations; nor am I learned in all of the histrionics surrounding Russian ties to the Syrian government, but I did grow up in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s right around the time crack destroyed the city, and as such, I know bulls#!t when I hear it. We love Russia and Russia has Syria in its back pocket, so why would we attack Syria? Clearly, the U.S. and Russia are Tinder lovers who are trying to act as if it’s just a sexual relationship. Given that Russia is the muscle for Syria, why would the U.S. make such a bold move against a country that wasn’t threatening the U.S.? Because TrumPutin wants to make it clear that he is not in love with Russia, except he totally is. On the surface, attacking Syria looks like a direct blow to Russia. It’s a bold move that the administration will try to use ad nauseam to show how it’s not aligned with Mother Russia. Think of it as a high school staged public breakup. Will it work? Of course not. Anyone with decent vision and a ninth-grade education at a public school can see that none of this passes the smell test. So if the move was to distance the U.S. from Russia, why did the U.S. inform Russia of the attack? Wait! Hol’ up! The U.S. did what? Yep, this lying-a$$ s#!tty administration called Russia before it bombed Syria to say, “Hey, we’re going to bomb Syria, and just making sure you are cool with that.” According to ABC News, the Syrian military anticipated an attack and began moving equipment and personnel shortly before the U.S. launched 59 tomahawk missiles. Big oil man-turned-U.S. Secretary of State (because that makes sense) Rex Tillerson swears that the U.S. didn’t discuss the planned attack with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the U.S. military told ABC News that it did communicate with the “Russian military to minimize any chance of Russian casualties—in particular, Russians operating out of the targeted airfield.” So someone is lying, but why doesn’t that strike anyone as a surprise? Wait, the U.S. told Russia about the attack and didn’t tell Congress? Because President TrumPutin and his Beverly Hillbillies administration play by their own rules, they completely bypassed congressional approval and just did whatever they wanted to do because that’s how they roll. What makes this attack even more interesting is a 2103 tweet from TrumPutin himself after a Syrian sarin-gas attack that killed civilians. “The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria—big mistake if he does not!” he posted in August 2013. A week later he tweeted: “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!” I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be bombing Syria, since Assad has proved himself to be a horrible person. I’m just saying that a lot is going on right now, and I don’t know if I want President A$$ Putin to decide anything on his own without congressional approval. I also know that going to war, even fake wars, is part of a presidential playbook to deflect and explain all types of skullduggery, from budget cuts to crazy spending, and, yes, to take the heat off of America and Russia’s Netflix-and-chill relationship. I know that in the past week, the White House has looked shakier than it’s been in months, with news coming out daily that the seams are splitting. Sounds like Steve Bannon is on the outs and Reince Preibus might not be too far behind him. Jared Kushner is basically the president, and Ivanka Trump is still in the White House doing God knows what. Devin Nunes finally recused himself from the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia and Trump’s obvious relationship, and now we’re at war. Even if I agree with bombing Syria, it doesn’t mean I agree with the reasoning, and it’s like my grandfather always said: If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck, it’s probably an orange-skinned a$$hat in a duck costume.

New Jersey teen has big decision to make after being accepted to all eight Ivy League schools

By Maya A. Jones, The Undefeated

When New Jersey teen Ifeoma White-Thorpe received her acceptance letter to Harvard University, she was elated. Although she had applied to all eight Ivy League institutions, White-Thorpe was grateful to even be considered by one. Her mind was made up, and her heart was set on the university. “I was shaking,” White-Thorpe told New York’s ABC 7. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh.’ Like, this might be eight out of eight, and I clicked it and it said, ‘Congratulations,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ And then I was like, ‘What did I say?’ ” Earning golden tickets to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, Penn, Columbia and Brown — and even Stanford — is something that rarely happens, given that most of these universities are known for their low acceptance rates. But White-Thorpe, who takes Advanced Placement classes and is president of the student government association at her high school, believes her writing is what made her stand out. She plans to major in global health and biology in college. The most daunting task White-Thorpe now has is narrowing down her options and deciding which university she’ll choose before her graduation in June. “At this point, none of the schools I’ve applied to said they give merit scholarships, so I’m praying that they give me some more financial aid or some money,” she said. “Shout-out to all of those schools: Please give me something.” Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.


By Lee Eric Smith

My first encounter with the Rev. Dr. William Barber was via a Youtube link my friend Troy Mathis sent me. I clicked the link on my phone. I winced when I saw that Dr. Barber’s speech was 40 minutes long. Like many of us, the idea of watching any video for 40 minutes on Youtube seemed daunting. But I know Troy; he wouldn’t send me this if it wasn’t good. I clicked play and for the next 40 minutes I was locked in on a fiery Dr. Barber preaching neither a conservative nor a liberal agenda, but instead calling for a MORAL agenda. What does that look like? An agenda that actively battles poverty and social injustice, one that calls out so-called “Christians” who will rally against abortion but sit on their hands when it comes to the needs of the poor — especially when “the least of these” were so important to Jesus. He also spoke of building broad, diverse and persistent coalitions across race, class, religious and gender identity boundaries. Suffice to say I’ve watched that clip several times since, shared it many times (in fact, I've posted it at the bottom of this interview). And when I learned that Dr. Barber would be in Memphis as part of the National Civil Rights Museum’s commemoration of Dr. King’s assassination, I scrambled to make sure I got a chance to have a conversation with him. Along with a handful of other journalists, I got my chance after Dr. Barber had keynoted the Teach-In Breakfast at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. I started by asking him about those coalitions. Lee Eric Smith: How do you get that message to, say, “conservatives” in Appalachia — people who otherwise might never hear that message? Rev. William Barber: One thing you have to know as a preacher, make sure your choir is with you before you go outside. So, part of the goal today was to recall and remember and revisit in order to re-engage, this idea that the Civil Rights Movement, the movement for justice, the movement against poverty, were always fusion movements. Often, people leave out those factors. For instance, people tend to limit Dr. King to just being a black leader. Dr. King always was a fusion leader. Even in Montgomery, people forget the many white and Jewish clerics and others that stood with him. Sometimes we look at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and we forget the diversity that walked across that bridge coming here to Memphis. Dr. King had been in Appalachia, he’d been in Memphis, he been with sanitation workers, been in the Delta. How do we get it to Appalachia? Well, we now have a group called Repairers of the Breach. It’s a traveling course in public theology. We teach moral analysis, moral articulation and moral activism. Just a few weeks ago, we had 125 clergy and activists from across the country, people from places like Appalachia and from urban areas, being trained in fusion politics. We didn’t just have services. We had moral revivals. We went to communities that otherwise, maybe, people wouldn’t have gone. People came that you might not expect. We found there’s a hunger. In a Birmingham moral revival at a Jewish synagogue, we had whites, blacks, Latinos. We had Black Lives Matter, we had Muslims, we had Hindus. We had people who didn’t necessarily have a religious faith but believe in a moral universe. We had all those groups coming together and understanding the intersections of poverty and racism and militarism and public education and health care. We can build relationships if we’re bold enough and committed enough. And that’s the last part, you have to do this long term. Moral Mondays in North Carolina didn’t start in 2013 when Republicans came to office. It started all the way back in 2007 when Democrats were in office. Because the moral critique says you challenge everybody. Dr. King didn’t just challenge one party. You challenge everybody. Of every piece of policy, we’ve asked these questions: Is it constitutionally consistent? Is it morally defensible? And is it economically sane? We understand that movement-building cannot just be based on the election every two, four years, it must be long-term. It took us three years to turn some things around in North Carolina, but because we were committed and there all the time with civil disobedience, there with a commitment to movement and not a moment, we saw the results in the fruit of that labor. LES: How do you build the patience and the endurance for a long-term movement? Especially among people who typically don’t have a lot? Barber: Actually, the fact that they don’t have a lot becomes a reason why they’re really interested in a transformational movement. Particularly when you have a movement that actually frees them to stand against what is keeping them from progressing and keeping them in an unequal situation. It’s amazing how many people who are impacted, stand in this moral movement. It actually lifts them. Don’t underestimate that. Once people figure out they can stand up, they have a tenacity that is unimaginable in many ways. Fox 13 Memphis: I have one quick question. Rev. Barber, what is your message to the people of Memphis? What has it been? Rev. Barber: Well, we need a serious historical analysis of where we are. We need to do a serious theological and faith assessment because the church and people of faith are either too quiet or too loud about the wrong things. We need to have a serious agenda around economic empowerment and dealing with poverty, health care, public education, criminal justice reform, environmental protection, and protecting the rights of all people, black, brown, gay, straight, immigrants. And then we need to commit to a strategy, a movement strategy that’s about the long-term battle. And we can’t bow down in this moment. We can’t just say, oh it’s just over, there’s nothing we can do. We must stand up and challenge extremism. One of the reasons I came to march with the Fight for 15 is that movements have to be from the bottom up. Black Lives Matter, they’re challenging racism and economic injustice right here in Memphis, they’re fighting for some of the same things Dr. King was fighting for. It’s a tragedy that 400 families make an average of $97,000 an hour and we’re locking people up who simply want $15 an hour. When, if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, the minimum wage would be almost $20 an hour. Dr. King said it 50 years ago, people should not work and not be able to live. He said that is as bad as ancient cannibalism. That’s what Dr. King said. He actually said in this city, that if America doesn’t treat Lazarus right, he talked about the rich man who wouldn’t even give Lazarus crumbs. They both died. The rich man went to hell, Lazarus went to heaven. Dr. King said in this city and we need to hear it again today: He said, America will go into an economic hell if she does not do right by working poor people and the least of these. It was true then, and it’s true now.

America’s fattest cities (2017 edition)


The numbers are in! The personal finance website WalletHub decided to analyze where exactly all that excess weight resides and which U.S. metro areas appear to be doing little in the way of helping stem the tide of obesity. Analysts for the site examined population data from the top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, comparing them across a total of 17 different metrics, ultimately rating each in three major categories: obese and overweight population, health problems based on weight, and healthy environments. Information sources included the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Agriculture, the Trust for America’s Health, and other WalletHub proprietary research. So without further ado, here are the cities where you need to loosen your belt a little bit because your belly may be a little big bigger (smile). 10. Knoxville, TN 9. Winston-Salem, NC 8. Lafayette, LA 7. Mobile, AL 6. Chattanooga, TN-GA 5. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX One of the glaring results of the study points to the South — 19 of the top 20 overweight metro areas are below the Mason-Dixon Line. “Several southern metro areas have some of the highest obesity and overweight rates in the country, which snowball into some alarming health issues like heart disease, diabetes and shorter life expectancy overall. Major contributors to this trend are food desserts, and a lack of resource that prevent them from having an active lifestyle such as community centers, gyms, and active lifestyle groups. The top three cities are a little surprising this year with some new cities making the list: 3. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 2. Memphis, TN and the number one fattest city is (drumroll please) 1. Jackson, Mississippi Jackson also ranks high in heart attacks. Here is the rest of the list from skinniest to fattest. Take a look and see if your city is on here as well. Columbia, SC Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC Birmingham-Hoover, AL San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Oklahoma City, OK Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Baton Rouge, LA Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN El Paso, TX Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Tulsa, OK Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Toledo, OH Huntsville, AL Greensboro-High Point, NC Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Columbus, OH Canton-Massillon, OH Wichita, KS Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Lexington-Fayette, KY Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO Fort Wayne, IN Charleston-North Charleston, SC New Orleans-Metairie, LA Jacksonville, FL Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI Richmond, VA Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Asheville, NC Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA Dayton, OH New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Worcester, MA-CT Raleigh, NC Kansas City, MO-KS Albuquerque, NM Akron, OH Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Springfield, MA Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Portland-South Portland, ME Anchorage, AK Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Manchester-Nashua, NH Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD New Haven-Milford, CT Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Austin-Round Rock, TX St. Louis, MO-IL Ogden-Clearfield, UT Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Tucson, AZ Cleveland-Elyria, OH Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Pittsburgh, PA Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Salt Lake City, UT Provo-Orem, UT Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Reno, NV Boise, ID Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA Honolulu, HI Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Colorado Springs, CO Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Black Lives Matter activists shift focus to state capitols

By Stephanie Long, Newsone

lack Lives Matter activists are launching a new initiative to shift the movement’s focus to state capitols, the Associated Press reports. People who wish to become more politically involved have the potential of greater influence at the state level, according to organizers. As the Associated Press notes, Republicans currently hold 33 governors’ offices, as well as majorities in 33 legislatures. They also have control over the governor’s office and legislature in 25 states, giving state Republicans more room to shape laws surrounding abortion, taxes, gun rights, and more. illustrates a trend of Democrats and left-leaning groups placing their eye on statehouses. From Associated Press: “Despite the movement’s national presence, it has not concentrated ‘on engaging and resisting what state legislatures are doing to essentially implement the same agenda,’ said Sam Sinyangwe, a data scientist with the project. ‘If we don’t engage on the state level, many of the same rights we’re fighting to protect will be restricted at the local level anyway.’ Users visiting the site can choose categories and click on states to learn more about pending legislation. It has a guide for influencing lawmakers, directing people to ask for in-person meetings, present specific demands and track the progress of legislation. The site also suggests conducting protests in lawmakers’ offices to apply pressure and get their attention.” Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former assistant chief of staff for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, says Black Lives Matter activists “could make inroads with GOP lawmakers,” depending on how they go about it. “If the goals are partisan, hot-button issues, the outcome is going to be … no political or policy progress,” Robinson said. “If Republicans are approached in a respectable manner on issues that could have bipartisan consensus, they can make headway, but they’ve got to be civil.” He also noted that activists must “be serious and have doable, incremental goals. If what they want to do is demonize Republican leaders … they’ll be ignored.”