Black farmers accuse the USDA of racism. The USDA appears to agree and vows to address ‘historical discrimination.’
The Department of Agriculture launched on Friday a commission aimed at addressing “historical discrimination” in agriculture, a sign the USDA is looking to overcome a decades-long history of systemic racism that Black farmers say has shrunk their numbers and kept families from building generational wealth.
The Equity Commission will help identify USDA programs and policies that have contributed to, exacerbated or perpetuated discrimination, the department said.
“The truth is, the deck has been stacked against Black farmers who for generations have been denied access to land and capital,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement to USA TODAY.
He vowed a “top to bottom” evaluation of decades-old farm programs to ensure they “more equitably serve” American farmers.
Black farmers today account for only 1.4% of all U.S. farmers, farm only 0.5% of the country’s farmland and generate only 0.4% of total U.S. agricultural sales every year. In contrast, about 14% of all U.S. farmers in 1920 were Black, according to that year’s agriculture census.
Black farmers say the USDA is at least partly responsible for those shrinking numbers. Decades of discrimination by the USDA, they say, have pushed thousands of their colleagues out of agriculture and have deeply impacted their earnings, their land and their chances to prosper.
The USDA appears to agree.
“To bring USDA from 1862 to 2021, we need the comprehensive structural review and recommendations to Congress that the newly-established Equity Commission will provide,” Vilsack said in his statement.
Building equity through the Equity Commission – perhaps
But Vilsack’s and the Biden administration’s efforts to reform the USDA will not be easy or straightforward. The new equity commission comes after previous USDA efforts have often stalled or proven insufficient, even as the harms of decades of racism endure.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13.4% of Americans continue to work from home or telework amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A majority of them have no desire to return to the office full-time, but that number is particularly high for Black employees.
A survey by the Slack think tank Future Forum found only 3% of Black employees polled wanted to return to full-time in-person work, compared to 21% of white employees.
Tisha Held, an auditor at a large financial institution in Seattle and the only Black woman in her department, said the numbers are not surprising.
“I think [Black] people, having gone through this past year experiencing the constant cuts from microaggressions and the fatigue of living through the pandemic, are just tired,” she said.
Held said working from home has offered employees of color a refuge from workplace racism, including everything from subtle racist jabs to being overlooked for promotions.
“After having experienced some level of relief, they don’t want to go back,” she said.
The Future Forum survey found that when the pandemic hit and increasing numbers of Black employees began working from home, their ability to manage stress soared 64%, while their sense of belonging in the workplace jumped 50%.
Held said working from home allowed her to be her “whole self” in a way that she feels she cannot be in the office.
“I don’t think people realize that as a Black person, Black woman, that there’s a lot to consider when you just go and sit in the space. There’s already an idea of who you are as you walk into the room,” she said.
“You have to always be conscious of how you present to other people. ‘Am I being too loud? Am I fitting into very specific stereotypes?’”
The Future Forum survey concluded that employers can help ease the burden on Black employees and other employees of color by embracing flexible work.
“While flexible work alone is not a panacea, it is an essential starting point for moving away from many of the structural inequities that pervade the U.S. workplace,” the survey read.
Source: King 5
Black women who have experienced more racism throughout their lives have stronger brain responses to threat, which may hurt their long-term health, according to a new study I conducted with clinical neuropsychologist Negar Fani and other colleagues.
I am part of a research team that for more than 15 years has studied the ways stress related to trauma exposure can affect the mind and body. In our recent study, we took a closer look at a stressor that Black Americans disproportionately face in the U.S.: racism.
My colleagues and I completed research with 55 Black women who reported how much they’d been exposed to traumatic experiences, such as childhood abuse and physical or sexual violence, and to racial discrimination, experiencing unfair treatment due to race or ethnicity.
We asked them to focus on a task that required attention while simultaneously looking at stressful images. We used functional MRI to observe their brain activity during that time.
We found that Black women who reported more experiences of racial discrimination had more response activity in brain regions that are associated with vigilance and watching out for threat—that is, the middle occipital cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Their reactions were above and beyond the response caused by traumatic experiences not related to racism. Our research suggests that racism had a trauma-like effect on Black women’s health; being regularly attuned to the threat of racism can tax important body-regulation tools and worsen brain health.
Other trauma research shows that this kind of continuous response to threat can increase the risk of mental health disorders and additional future brain health problems.
Source: Spokesman Recorder
“How does the lived and social experience of race turn into racial differences in health — into higher levels of Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease or higher rates of infant mortality?” These questions sit at the center of several new studies undertaken by researchers like Amani Nuru-Jeter, a social epidemiologist at the University of California–Berkeley, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Increasingly their data suggests that “lived experiences” – particularly those surrounding racial trauma and discrimination impact stress levels and play a role in health disparities.
Rochelle P. Walensky, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, noted that the COVID-19 illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed racism as unaddressed parallel pandemic impacting public health.
“What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans. As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation,” Walensky wrote in CDC commentary. “Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they gather in community.”
Across the country, racial and ethnic minority populations experience higher rates of poor health and disease in a range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts. The life expectancy among Black/African Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans.
“Just the fact that the nation continues to make comparisons between “racial” groups – as if diseases consciously work along our constructed labeling is problematic,” biology graduate student Georges Diop told the Informer. “Under the social bullying and frailty that make up white supremacy, sane professionals cannot sweep aside how being denied access to proper housing, employment – or those rights forged in our Constitution: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – impact the mental and physical health of those groups. It also does not take into account the mental health of those denying others access.”
Source: Washington Informer
Black Canadian athletes and coaches are calling for more allies and mentorship for Black female competitors who they say face tremendous pressure from racism and sexism.
Alpha Alexander, co-founder of the Black Women in Sport Foundation, says Black women are under “a tremendous amount of weight” compared to white athletes.
“The pressure is tremendous. We face both racism as well as sexism, as women in sport,” Alexander told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday, adding that young Black women in predominantly white sports also grapple with loneliness, as few others look like them.
Following the slew of online racism towards Black English soccer players after the Euro 2020 final, Black Canadian athletes shared they often feel they’re one slip-up away from being on the receiving end of online hatred, harassment and being “othered” by fans.
Alexander says there is a long history of Black Canadians and Americans being asked to represent their countries in competition, but being disregarded if they lose.
Lee Anna Osei, founder of the Black Canadian Coaches Association, who joined Alexander during the interview, added that athlete’s face growing stigma around showing weakness, making it harder to discuss the pressures they face.
U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, for example, bowed out of several Olympic events in Tokyo, citing mental health concerns. She went on to win the bronze medal on the balance beam and noted after the fact that her aunt had died.
“Every day I had to be medically evaluated by the doctors, and then I had two sessions with a sports psychologist which kind of helped keep me more level-headed,” Biles said, regarding her preparations for the beam final.
Several conservative commentators criticized the Olympic medal winner’s decision to bow out at the time, but athletes from across the board supported her decision, including her U.S. Gymnastics teammates.
Source: CTV News
Contagious diseases have a long history of racism linked to them. Their linkage to poverty and living conditions have also helped to deepen class prejudice. Even more damning is the naming of diseases after countries and communities. The Ebola outbreak in Africa, Asiatic flu and cholera, the bubonic plague, Middle East respiratory syndrome, have all been sufficiently racialized to lead to deep and widespread prejudice against certain groups of people.
The afflictions associated with HIV-AIDS, sometimes called the “Gay Plague,” have often been imagined as divine retribution against homosexuality. Mary Mallon, a figure from 18th century England, stands as one of the most infamous instances of malicious symbolism, in her vicious incarnation as “Typhoid Mary.”
Pandemics are also associated with migration and movement. Naturally, migrant populations are especially vulnerable to the violent prejudices brought about by the fear created by the pandemic. As international student movement starts to return to normal in Western nations, we face inevitable questions about the new predominant strain of the virus, the Delta variant – and its supposed country of origin, India.
Happily, it is no longer called the India variant as it was called in its initial days. Global conscience, sharp after then-President Donal Trump’s loud denunciation of “the China virus” ensured that the association of countries and communities with virus strains were nulled quickly. Language shapes memory, and one hopes this delinking of location and virus has helped. But as a slowly healing world – especially the West – faces a single dominant strain, what happens to students from the part of that world who go elsewhere to study?
India has been bruised and battered by internal prejudices against communities sharpened by the fear of the virus. There are endless stories of migrant workers being singled out, ostracized, and harassed by their local community members even after they have followed mandatory quarantine periods following their return. Frontline workers such as doctors and nurses have been targeted, many of them rendered homeless following their eviction by landlords, forced to sleep in staffrooms or washrooms of hospitals.
Source: Outlook India
Migrant Students Migrant Students
Racism lurks behind decisions to deny Black high school students from being recognized as the top in their class
Jamel K. Donnor, Associate Professor of Education, William & Mary
Two Black students – Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple – were named valedictorian and salutatorian at West Point High School in Mississippi in 2021. Shortly afterward, two white parents questioned whether school officials had correctly calculated the top academic honors.
Ultimately, the school superintendent named two white students as “co-valedictorian” and “co-salutatorian” on the day of graduation.
High school seniors with the highest GPA in their graduating class are chosen to be valedictorians and are often responsible for delivering the graduating speech. Salutatorians, who are high school seniors with the second-highest GPA in their graduating class, often give the opening remarks.
The superintendent attributed the mix-up to a new school counselor who was given incorrect information on how to calculate class rankings.
As an educational researcher who focuses on race and inequality, I am aware that the controversy at West Point High School is by no means isolated.
A history of overlooking Black valedictorians
Back in 1991 a federal judge in Covington, Georgia, resolved a dispute a Black high school senior had with a white student over who gets to be valedictorian by making them share the honor.
Then in 2012 in Gainesville, Georgia, another Black valedictorian was also forced to share the honor with a white student. Later, the white student’s family asked the school to drop his candidacy from the academic honor.
In 2011, Kymberly Wimberly, a Black student in Little Rock, Arkansas, had her valedictorian honor stripped away by her principal to be given to a white student with a lower GPA. Wimberly’s lowest grade during all four years of high school was a B. In the rest of Wimberly’s courses, honors and Advanced Placement courses, she received A’s.
In her lawsuit, Wimberly claimed that a day after being informed that she was the valedictorian for McGehee High School, the principal told her mother, Molly Bratton, that he “decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian.”
Read the complete article at: Yahoo
From the moment it was published, the UK’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities’ report was met with a media storm driven by both its supporters and detractors. Months later, amid continued division over the report’s position that racism isn’t pronounced in the UK, there’s still some confusion about what exactly some of the report’s buzzwords mean.
The terms “structural racism” and “institutional racism” are among many of the concepts that have been mentioned in relation to the report’s position on whether or not racism is ingrained in the UK.
But assessing the truth behind the Commission’s suggestion that these forms of racism aren’t factors in driving racial inequality first requires decoding these terms.
Structural and institutional racism
Defined initially by political activists Stokely Carmichael and Charles Vernon Hamilton in 1967, the concept of institutional racism came into the public sphere in 1999 through the Macpherson Inquiry into the racist murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Institutional racism is defined as: “processes, attitudes and behaviour(s) which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people”.
As Sir William Macpherson, head of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, wrote at the time, it “persists because of the failure … to recognise and address its existence and causes by policy, example and leadership”.
Institutional and structural racism work hand in glove. Institutional racism relates to, for example, the institutions of education, criminal justice and health. Examples of institutional racism can include: actions (or inaction) within organisations such as the Home Office and the Windrush Scandal; a school’s hair policy; institutional processes such as stop and search, which discriminate against certain groups.
Structural racism refers to wider political and social disadvantages within society, such as higher rates of poverty for Black and Pakistani groups or high rates of death from COVID-19 among people of colour.
Read the complete article at: The Conversation
Black workers: Consider information technology, which offers some of the best paying jobs in the country. African Americans earn approx One in 10 bachelor’s degrees in computer science nationwide. In contrast, the area around San Francisco, including Silicon Valley, accounts for only 2.6 out of every 100 computer workers.
Even with the credentials of many African Americans in the field, Dr. Spriggs said in an interview, “Silicon Valley says, ‘Yeah, but they’re not skilled.’”
But for all the evidence of racial disparities, many economists say that employers’ racial bias may not fully explain what is happening in the workplace. The idea that discrimination alone determined much of what happens for black workers at work—their employment and their pay—doesn’t coincide with how American society has changed over the past half century.
Simply put, if racism is the reason black workers have slashed pay, said Eric Hurst, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, how is it that they made such progress after World War II, with whites in pay. Largely closed the gap while segregation and other obvious barriers were still wide? And why has this progress stalled, even though racial animosity has, by various measures, subsided over the years?
The share of whites who approve of interracial marriage, for example, rose to 87 percent in 2013, the last time Gallup asked the question, from 48 percent in 1965. The share of whites who said they would vote for a black presidential candidate rose to 96 percent in 2020, to 77 percent in 1983 and 38 percent in 1958. Many other questions asked by the General Social Survey, a long-running academic effort to understand the views of Americans, show that racial bias has declined over the past several decades. .
Most of the benefits African Americans made in the workplace were made in the 1940s to 1970s, when racial prejudice was more prevalent throughout society. Then they got stuck.
“There was convergence between blacks and whites, but then it stopped,” Dr. Hurst, who is also deputy director of the Baker Friedman Institute for Economics, which sponsors a podcast I host. “The question is why.”
Source: Nation World News
The U.N. human rights chief, in a landmark report launched after the killing of George Floyd in the United States, is urging countries worldwide to do more to help end discrimination, violence and systemic racism against people of African descent and “make amends” to them — including through reparations.
The report from Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, offers a sweeping look at the roots of centuries of mistreatment faced by Africans and people of African descent, notably from the transatlantic slave trade. It seeks a “transformative” approach to address its continued impact today.
The report, a year in the making, hopes to build on momentum around the recent, intensified scrutiny worldwide about the blight of racism and its impact on people of African descent as epitomized by the high-profile killings of unarmed Black people in the United States and elsewhere.
“There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice,” the report said.
The report aims to speed up action by countries to end racial injustice; end impunity for rights violations by police; ensure that people of African descent and those who speak out against racism are heard; and face up to past wrongs through accountability and redress.
“I am calling on all states to stop denying — and start dismantling — racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent; and to confront past legacies and deliver redress,” Bachelet said in a video statement.
While broaching the issue of reparation in her most explicit way yet, Bachelet suggested that monetary compensation alone is not enough and would be part of an array of measures to help rectify or make up for the injustices.
Read the complete article at: NPR
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