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Black Babies Awareness Month

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Campaign highlights national policy agenda and research exploring long-standing inequities and the effects of COVID-19

Black Babies Awareness Month, a campaign to promote and center the needs of Black infants and toddlers, kicks-off November 1st. The initiative coincides with the release of the first-ever National Black Child Agenda.

Led by the Equity Research Action Coalition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the new campaign calls for protecting, promoting and preserving the wellbeing of Black families and babies. There are 11.5 million Black babies in the U.S. Over 60 percent of Black babies live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is more than double the rate for White babies (29 percent).

The Equity Research Action Coalition unveiled the National Black Child Agenda, an ambitious plan that calls for actions to dismantle structural racism and systemic inequities that have negative effects on Black children’s school and life success. The agenda was co-developed with research and child development experts from the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and POINTS of ACCESS, LLC.

The agenda asserts that Black families are better supported when there is a strategic focus on designing systems, and implementing programs and interventions that build upon the cultural assets and strengths of Black families. It calls for promoting Black children and their families’ economic security, health and access to quality early learning opportunities, while also preserving their cultural identity and heritage. Black families and babies experience multiple adversities prior to and after birth, but the cultural wealth of Black families has proven to be transformative in navigating against structural racism and other negative experiences.

The Black Babies Awareness Month campaign will include an open virtual roundtable with key experts to share recent research, the national policy agenda for Black children, a social media toolkit and calls-to-action for the public to get involved.

“For every parent, our precious Black babies are our pride and joy and they are more than deserving of the warm, safe and nurturing caregiving that will contribute to their health and long-term brain development,” states Equity Research Action Coalition Founder Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka. “We hope that Black Babies Awareness Month and the National Black Child Agenda together will build national public awareness around the issues that impact them the most, and lead to a concerted push for inclusive policies that will improve their life outcomes.”

“When you think about it, our children exist in a duality of ‘the land of opportunity,’ and ‘the home of racism and debilitating inequities,'” said NBCDI CEO and President Dr. Leah Austin. “This ground-breaking agenda reflects a post-2020 America, and serves as a launchpad for empowering advocates and communities everywhere to better serve the needs of the 21st century Black child,” she continued.

The resource identifies ten pressing policies of focus such as child tax credits, universal access to early childhood education and culturally-responsive training.

Ten Policies of the National Black Child Agenda:

  1. Maintain child tax credits and income supports
  2. Address racial disparities in wages and career advancement opportunities
  3. Invest in Black-owned and Black-led businesses, organizations and institutions
  4. Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act
  5. Expand health insurance
  6. Expand universal access to early care and education
  7. Address harsh discipline practices
  8. Ensure equity in early intervention and special education
  9. Ensure culturally responsive curriculum and practices through workforce development and training
  10. Pass reparations

Research on Black Babies and Families:

The Equity Research Action Coalition also recently released the report “Black Parents and Their Babies: Attending to the First 1,000 Days.” The research explores quality of life, racial trauma and socio-economic issues in greater detail. It includes first-hand accounts and action items from Black families. The report surveyed Black parents on a weekly basis from May through December of 2020, and incorporates data from the RAPID-EC project at the University of Oregon. The report provides three essential recommendations:

  • Protecting Black babies and their families from racism, discrimination and material hardship is necessary to ensure babies thrive throughout their life course
  • Promoting economic security, health and access to early learning opportunities is essential to mitigate against the biological and social vulnerability Black babies and their families face due to racism, discrimination and bias
  • Preserving Black babies’ cultural identities in the early years is as essential as the “three Rs” of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

To read the full report and learn more about Black Babies Awareness Month, visit the Equity Research Action Coalition’s website.

About the Equity Research Action Coalition

The Equity Research Action Coalition co-constructs with practitioners and policymakers actionable research to support the optimal development of Black children prenatally through childhood across the African diaspora using a cultural wealth framework. The Coalition will focus on developing a science-based action framework to eradicate the impact of racism and poverty, and all its consequences on the lives of Black children, families, and communities, and to ensure optimal health, well-being, school readiness and success, and overall excellence.

For more information about the Equity Research Action Coalition, please visit the group’s website and follow them on Twitter at @FPGInstitute.

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Women Of Influence Honoree

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The YWCA of San Antonio prepares to celebrate their 2022 Women of Influence Luncheon on September 29, 2022. The YWCA is the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization in the world. Across the globe, they have more than 25 million members in 106 countries, including 2.6 million members and participants in 300 local associations in the United States. More important than the numbers, is their mission to eliminate racism and empower women. The YWCA provide safe places for women and girls, helps build strong women leaders, and advocate for women’s rights and civil rights in Congress.

Dr. Kelley is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, her medical degree from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I. She completed her OB-GYN residency at UT Health San Antonio in 2002. Since that time, she has practiced in San Antonio at Southeast OB-GYN Associates with her father, Dr. Harmon Kelley. She was a 1990 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Winston Churchill High School in the Northeast Independent School District.

Dr. Kelley has served as President of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and as Chairman of Section V, District Xl of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In 2007, as a Representative of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists she testified before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Regulations, Trade and Healthcare’s Hearing on “The Value of Health Information Technology to Solo and Small Medical Practices.”

Dr. Kelley has served on many community boards. She has previously served as a Trustee for the Center for Healthcare Services, Mental Health Authority for Bexar County. In addition, she has served on Board of Directors of Methodist Healthcare Ministries, the Alamo Public Telecommunications Council, and the Texas Blood and Tissue Center. She has also served as a member of the Vestry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Dr. Kelley has received many honors. She was honored in 2011 as “40 under 40” Rising Star by the San Antonio Business Journal. She is a 2012 Graduate of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Robert Cefalo Leadership Institute. In 2019 Dr. Kelley was the recipient of the Outstanding Former Resident Award from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UT Health San Antonio.

Dr. Kelley is a member of the San Antonio (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, where she has held several leadership positions. In addition, she is a member of Alpha Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Bexar County Medical Society

Congratulations Dr. Margaret Kelley

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Closing the Health Disparity Gap for Black Women

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  • African American women are three times more likely to die from complications due to pregnancy.
  • Black women are disproportionately burdened by chronic conditions, such as anemia, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and obesity.
  • Evidence exists that racial differences in socioeconomic (education and employment) and housing outcomes results in systematic unequal treatment of Black women.

These are just a few of the reasons Houston’s Leading Black Information Source is hosting the 2nd State of Black Women Health Forum at HISD’s Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, 1906 Cleburne St., in Houston. The event scheduled on Wednesday, May 18 is two-fold with student assemblies in the morning and an adult program beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and a program at 6:30 p.m.

While the student portion of the event will focus on physical and mental health, the adult session will add a discussion on sexual health as a component. Health questions from the audience will be answered by black medical professionals who commonly address the health care needs unique to Black women. Admission is free with registration.

“This forum brings Black girls and Black women together with women medical professionals to help provide a roadmap for their lifelong health journey,” said Sonny Messiah-Jiles, CEO of the Defender Network. “We are grateful for our sponsors who recognize the importance of empowering Black women with health information to improve the quality of their lives.”

Sponsors for the 2nd State of Black Women Health Forum are H-E-B., Texas Children’s Hospital, J.P. Morgan Chase, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the City of Houston, HillDay Public Relations and The Steve Fund, an organization dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.

“At H-E-B, our mission is to do our part to take care of Texans, and we’re proud to support wellness initiatives that work to educate and improve the health of women and communities of color,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs. “H-E-B believes food plays an important role in a person’s wellbeing, and we’re committed to providing families throughout Texas quality, nutritional food to help them live happier and healthier lives.

 “Black women, especially younger women, are more likely to have more aggressive breast cancers at an earlier age and die more often from the disease, making breast cancer screening, early detection and clinical trial enrollment especially important for our community,” said Lorna McNeill, Ph.D., chair of Health Disparities Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. McNeill will speak on clinical trials and health disparities at the event.

“Texas Children’s Hospital is incredibly proud to be a sponsor of this year’s State of Black Women Health Forum,” said Michelle Riley Brown, Executive Vice President of Texas Children’s Hospital. “All Black women and girls should have access not only to quality medical care that specifically addresses their needs, but also to vital information essential for their long-term physical and emotional health. Thank you so much to all the participating speakers and panelists and to Sonny Messiah-Jiles for spearheading this critical conversation.”

Black women organizations from across the city will encourage members to participate in the forum with the goal of winning the special attendance prizes: First prize $1,000, Second prize $500 or Third prize $250. The event includes swag bags for the first one hundred attendees, door prizes and lots of fun and information.

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Johnson & Johnson Vision Announces New Collaboration to Eliminate Inequities

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− New collaboration with Black EyeCare Perspective sets sights to drive more equity among eye care professionals in optometry

− First major eye health company to sign 13% Promis

Johnson & Johnson Vision*, a global leader in eye health and part of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies**, today announced a collaboration with Black EyeCare Perspective, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to redefining the color of the eyecare industry 1% at a time. As part of the collaboration, Johnson & Johnson Vision signed the 13% Promise, an initiative to increase equity and representation in the eye care industry and in optometry schools by increasing the number of Black students to mirror the 13% of Black people in the U.S. population.

Click to Tweet: .@JNJVision announces new collaboration to increase representation of people of color in the eye care industry and colleges of optometry. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3k9iv5C

According to data from Black EyeCare Perspective, only 3.2% of students and 3.8% of faculty in optometry colleges are Black or African American, and this number drops to only 1.8% among practicing optometrists. Johnson & Johnson Vision is the first major eye health company to sign the 13% Promise, furthering a long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through awareness, education, and empowerment in collaboration with associations, public and community organizations.

Johnson & Johnson Vision will contribute to the 13% Promise by continuing to:

  • Support sponsorships and new programs to improve representation of people of color in optometry.
  • Bring more diversity and equity into the eye care industry.
  • Create more culturally relevant information and eye health education materials.

“As one of the largest eye health companies, we have an opportunity to drive change and bring more diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry for the greater good of the many patients and doctors we serve,” said Thomas Swinnen, President, North America, Johnson & Johnson Vision***. “Our partnership with Black EyeCare Perspective is one of the many ways we can further support the future of optometry and work together to create quality, equitable experiences along with healthier outcomes across communities.”

To learn more about Johnson & Johnson Vision visit www.jjvision.com.  

About Johnson & Johnson Vision*
At Johnson & Johnson Vision, part of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, we have a bold ambition: to change the trajectory of eye health around the world. Through our operating companies, we deliver innovation that enables eye care professionals to create better outcomes for patients throughout their lives, with products and technologies that address unmet needs including refractive error, cataracts and dry eye. In communities with greatest need, we work in collaboration to expand access to quality eye care, and we are committed to helping people see better, connect better and live better. Visit us at www.jjvision.com. Follow @JNJVision on Twitter and Johnson & Johnson Vision on LinkedIn.

About Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies**
At Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, we are helping people live their best lives. Building on more than a century of expertise, we tackle pressing healthcare challenges, and take bold steps that lead to new standards of care while improving people’s healthcare experiences. In surgery, orthopedics, vision and interventional solutions, we are helping to save lives and paving the way to a healthier future for everyone, everywhere.

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