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1. Don’t Do Depression Alone!
This week the media world mourns the death of Karyn Washington, the 22-year-old writer of the popular motivational blog “For Brown Girls.”
Brown, who began the blog three years ago aimed at helping women of darker skin complexions to love and accept themselves, is said to have committed suicide on April 8th. Friends say that, privately, Washington had been battling depression and mental illness, made worse by the passing of her mother in 2013.
One of the movements Washington will best be remembered for was her empowering “Dark Skin, Red Lip” project, where she encouraged sistas to wear whatever shade of red lipstick made them feel the most beautiful.
Fans of the beloved blogger are using her death as an opportunity shine a much-needed light on mental health in the Black community, encouraging anyone else suffering from depression to seek help. The National Association for Mental Illness is a recommended resource for help within the African American community. You can even get referrals to therapists of color there.
2. More Murders in Chicago: Illinois Must Approve New Policies To End Gun Violence
And Karyn’s family, friends and fans aren’t the only ones in mourning. A group of Chicago parents are mourning the loss of their children today after 4 young people were shot and killed and 33 inured over the weekend there.
One of the injured is a 25-year-old mother of two who is clinging to life support with two bullets lodged in her brain.
This latest crime spree lasted 36 hours – from Friday afternoon into early Sunday – in what police believe may have been a series of gang-related shootings in the West Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park neighborhoods.
So when will this devastating years-long barrage of violence stop plaguing families of color in the Windy City, you ask?
When, according to Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy, Illinois overhauls it’s “lax state and federal gun laws” – taking a ridiculous number of guns and criminals off the streets.
Illinois, get to it.
The lives of our loved ones depends on it.
3. Post-Tuskegee, Black Folks Heavily Recruited to Join Clinical Trials
The lives of millions of Black folk may also depend on how many of us sign up to participate in clinical trials.
Life-saving research studies on human volunteers designed to answer specific health questions, contrary to popular beliefs — largely shaped by Blacks’ mistrust over legendary experiments like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study — clinical trials are said to be the safest and most effective way to find treatments that work in people as well as develop new ways to improve our health.
The trials were a hot topic over the weekend at the National Association of Black Journalists Media Institute on Health, Health Policy and Health Inequities in Washington, D.C.
There, a panel of top doctors, researchers and health professionals practically pleaded with journalists to get the word out about the importance of Blacks joining clinical trials for a variety of diseases.
One of the most outspoken advocates was Dr. Coleman Obasaju, the Senior Medical Doctor for Lilly Oncology. Calling the matter “an issue of life and death” in some cases due to the fact that African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population but only 5% of clinical trial participants, Obasaju explained that because Black genes are often different from those from of other nationalities and ethnicities if we don’t participate, scientists will have that much of a harder time finding and developing the best drugs (and cures) for the diseases we suffer from at a significantly more disproportionate rate – hypertension, diabetes, HIV, asthma and all different forms of cancer to start.
“One out of every two males in their lifetime will receive a cancer diagnosis in the U.S.,” Obasaju explained, “and that goes for one out of every three females. That said, every one of us are connected to the challenge of increasing the number of Black people participating in clinical trials. It is very, very important that we do not miss out on the opportunity to be engaged in the process so that any potential clinical advances that can be made in this area we can benefit from.”
Dr. Michael LeNoir, President, National Medical Association, added that he doesn’t believe our failure to sign up is due to the continued mistrust of doctors concerning racist medical experiments like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study – rather that we either didn’t know how to join one or didn’t qualify.
To find out which clinical trials are currently open and whether or not you are an ideal candidate (and by the way, did you know other groups have been getting paid thousands of dollars to participate in similar trials?!) log on to clinicaltrials.gov
4. The NYPD Puts An End to Muslim Profiling
Just maybe we’re getting somewhere with the NYPD.
On Tuesday the NYPD said it had disbanded a special internal unit within the department that had been tracking the daily lives of Muslims in an attempt to keep terrorism-related crimes from happening.
Created in 2003 the Demographics Unit, with the help of a CIA agent, had been maintaining databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed and had sent plainclothes police officers into student groups, mosques and other areas. But following an evaluation of the unit new police commissioner William Bratton found the same information the cops were gathering could be obtained through direct contact with Muslim community groups. (Looking forward to leaps and bounds with the NYPD and its relationship to the Black community.)
5. Poor Black Kids Get Stuck With Terrible Teachers
There’s a new troubling study out from the Center for American Progress.
According to the Huffington Post, the center released a report on Friday that showed that low-income students of color are more likely to have not only less experienced teachers but – not too surprisingly — less quality ones.
Analyzing teacher evaluation scores in rich and poor districts in Louisiana and Massachusetts, the study found that in Louisiana a student in a school in the highest-poverty quartile was almost three times as likely to be taught by a teacher rated ineffective as a student in a school in the lowest-poverty quartile. There were similar results in other schools with high populations of students of color.
Sounds like more of us need to run and/or support candidates of color for our local school boards. The midterm elections are coming up.
I’ve spent my entire career as a civil rights activist and anti-violence advocate. I hear from folks all over the country about how fed-up they are—how much they want change—but they don’t know where to start. It’s not enough just to be informed, we’ve got to work tirelessly to do better. With the “The Lookout,” I’ll collect the most important stories and action items that you need to know about and things you can do each week, keeping you involved so you can create positive change for yourself and your community.
I want to hear from you; what’s going on in your community? What stories or events should folks know about? Leave a comment below.
More About Tamika Mallory
Called “a leader of tomorrow” by Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie B. Jarrett, Tamika D. Mallory is a nationally recognized leader and civil rights activist. Tamika is the Founder/President of Mallory Consulting, LLC and the former Executive Director of the National Action Network (NAN), one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations. She is featured regularly as a leading voice on key social justice issues and is currently making headlines around the country for her tireless activism and strong stance on women’s issues, anti-violence, young adult advocacy, and decency.
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