Black women candidates feel slighted by Democrats

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An illustration of a donkey blindfolded

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

There are at least 43 Democratic black women running as challengers for U.S. House seats, but only one — Lauren Underwood of Illinois — has the backing of the national campaign organization.

Why it matters: Black women are a powerful voting bloc for the Democratic Party as they work to capture the House and Senate. In 2016, 94% of black women voted for Clinton over Trump. In Alabama’s special election, they helped Doug Jones win — 98% of them voted for him, compared to just 34% of white women. Now they’re running for office in overwhelming numbers, but some feel the party isn’t investing in them.

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The big picture: Right now, there are only 19 black women serving in Congress. Only 67 women of color overall have been members of Congress since 1964.

Be smart: The conversation about the party’s support of the black community — both as voters and candidates — is not going away any time soon. Just look at Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial campaign in New York, where she’s getting headlines like “Cynthia Nixon’s Political Run Should Be Taken Seriously Because She Takes Black Voters Seriously.”

Black women running say their enthusiasm isn’t matched by groups like the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Even the Congressional Black Caucus is backing Michael Capuano, the Democratic incumbent in Massachusetts’ 7th district, over his challenger Ayanna Pressley, who’s a black woman.

  • There’s been a focus on the progressive vs. moderate fight within the Democratic Party, making some feel overlooked. “I think some of the other groups [like progressives] have gotten more attention than any racial group,” Kimberly Hill Knott, who’s running for Congress in Michigan, told Axios. I don’t hear the national party talking about an urban agenda.”
  • But one progressive candidate who is also black, Kerri Harris, who’s running for U.S. Senate in Delaware, said she’s had no recognition from the party. “They can keep pretending like we don’t exist or come out against us as candidates, but they’ll realize the best way to uphold our Democracy is to encourage it.”

One big challenge: Politics is driven by money. If you’re not raising a lot of it, you’re viewed as unelectable. But raising money as a first-time candidate and a black woman is often half the battle, according to the candidates interviewed by Axios.

“These are organizations that are meant to help make sure black interests are represented and yet everybody is looking at who’s more electable based on money.”
— Alabama congressional candidate Audri Scott Williams

The other side: While some candidates want more from the national party, black women were praised at the DNC’s annual Women’s Leadership Forum this year, with Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters and DNC Vice Chair Grace Meng calling them the “backbone” of the party.

  • The DNC’s Political and Organizing Director Amanda Brown Lierman said in a statement: “While the DNC does not endorse in contested primaries, we work with our state parties to make sure first-time candidates have the tools and information they need.” She added: “African-American women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we know we can’t take them for granted. That’s why we’ve made meaningful investments in our state parties in order to turn out and engage women of color.”
  • The DCCC didn’t address the number of black women on their Red to Blue list, but said they’ll keep working on diversity of candidates because it’s “crucial to winning back the House.” DCCC spokesman Kamau Marshall added: “The DCCC is proud to support the historic number of women and African American candidates running for Congress, who will bring a wealth of knowledge and cultural competence to the political table for Democrats.”

By the numbers: A recent collection of polls (from the Associated Press/NORC Center and CBS News) shows the diversity among black voters. Only 1% identify as Republicans, 92% disapprove of President Trump, and the 59% who identify as Democrats is smaller than the percentage of black voters who actually vote for Democratic candidates.

The bottom line: Black women candidates want more from the Democratic Party, but Democrats might not have to worry much about how they’ll vote in 2018 or 2020.

By Alexi McCammond/Axios

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

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Ambien Maker Shames Roseanne Barr for Blaming Her Bigoted Rant on its Drug: ‘Racism is Not a Known Side Effect’ Sanofi threw shade at the former sitcom star after she claimed she was “Ambien tweeting” when she attacked former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

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Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company behind Ambien, has put out a statement knocking Roseanne Barr for seemingly blaming its drugs for her racist tirade this week.

“People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world,” the company said in an official announcement. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

One day after her hit ABC sitcom got cancelled in the wake of her racist attacks on former Obama White House aide Valerie Jarrett, Barr took to Twitter to say that “it was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting” when she decided to compare Jarrett’s appearance to that of an ape.

 

Sanofi US

@SanofiUS

People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.
9:57 AM – May 30, 2018

Political Pressure in Nebraska

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The University of Nebraska at Lincoln bowed, at least to some degree, to political pressure when it permanently removed a lecturer in English from the classroom last fall. In so doing, and in denying her the dismissal hearing to which she was entitled by campus policy, Nebraska may have violated her academic freedom.

So concludes a new investigative report from the American Association of University Professors. The document provides new insight into the locally infamous Courtney Lawton case at Nebraska and the university’s shifting rationales for her suspension. It also sets the stage for a possible vote to censure Nebraska’s administration at the AAUP’s annual meeting next month.

AAUP censure for alleged violations of academic freedom is a symbolic gesture, since the association has no actual authority over the institutions with which it disagrees. But many campuses see censure as a reputational black eye and work with AAUP to lift it.

The university, which participated in AAUP’s on-campus investigation, expressed “disappointment” with the association’s findings this week and stood by its decision to effectively end Lawton’s teaching appointment, in the interest of the campus as a whole.

In August, Lawton — who was then an adjunct at Nebraska — was recorded protesting an on-campus recruiting table for Turning Point USA. That’s the conservative group behind Professor Watchlist, which many academics believe distorts their views and chills academic freedom. Lawton called the undergraduate behind the table a “neo-fascist Becky” who “wants to destroy public schools, public universities, hates DACA kids,” and flipped her off. The video was shared on online, went viral and drew the ire of Republican state lawmakers.

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Black Venture Capitalist Announces $36M Fund to Invest In Black Female Founders

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Arlan Hamilton Fund

Black Venture Capitalist Announces $36M Fund to Invest In Black Female Founders

A Black venture capitalist is taking it upon herself to support other “underestimated” Black women founders who see less than 0.2 percent of venture capital funds when trying to get their dream businesses off the ground.

CEO Arlan Hamilton is no stranger to throwing her support behind underrepresented groups and stuck to her trend last weekend when she announced the launch of a $36 million dollar fund aimed at investing in Black women founders like herself. The exciting announcement came during the United State of Women Summit in Los Angeles on May 5.

“.. This has been in the works for several months,” Hamilton, the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, told AfroTech. “It had a few iterations, but in the last couple of months, I made the decision that the money would go to funding Black women specifically and $1 million at a time, specifically.”

“It was very intentional and something that … I knew would probably get pushback from some people, but I have the greatest conviction around it,” she continued. “There’s a lot that goes into raising a fund of this size when you have had less than $5 million under management as a new fund manager, but I was up for the challenge.”

The rumors are true. Today at #USOW2018 I announced that my venture capital firm @Backstage_Cap has launched a $36m fund that will invest in Black women founders $1mill at a time. Thank you to the Backstage Crew, headliners, LPs, mentors & network for making this moment possible. pic.twitter.com/yT1SMQOFAR

— Arlan 👊🏾 (@ArlanWasHere) May 5, 2018

They’re calling it a “diversity fund.” I’m calling it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund.

— Arlan 👊🏾 (@ArlanWasHere) May 6, 2018

Like most Black women entrepreneurs, Hamilton built her seed-stage investment fund from the ground up. She spent her days pitching investors across the San Francisco Bay area but was also broke and homeless at the time, often sleeping on the floor of the San Francisco International Airport, according to Quartz. Her ultimate goal was to found a venture capital fund  “dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders” who are non-white, women and/or LGBTQ.

By 2018, she had done just that. To date, Backstage Capital has invested in 80 companies across various industries, according to its website. All of the companies have at least one founder who is female, a person or color or member of the LGBTQ community.

Before 2018 ends, Hamilton’s firm plans to invest in two or three companies, the first of which is expected to be announced this summer, AfroTech reported. The entrepreneur said she anticipates funding at least six companies by 2019.

“We are no longer accepting the scraps at the end of the dinner table in venture capital and beyond as Black women,” Hamilton told the news site. “We asked nicely, and now it’s our turn.”

There have been a few bumps in the road, but Hamilton said her persistence wouldn’t let her give up on her dream. Speaking to Quartz, she said she looks for that same relentless persistence when deciding who to invest in.
“I look for founders that remind me of myself,” she said. “Would they have done what I did to get here?”

By Tanasia Kenney/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Three black teens are finalists in a NASA competition. Hackers spewing racism tried to ruin their odds.

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From left, India Skinner, Mikayla Sharrieff and Bria Snell, 11th graders from Banneker High School in Washington, are finalists in a NASA youth science competition. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)

The three D.C. students couldn’t believe the news. They’d developed a method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains, and NASA announced last month that they were finalists in the agency’s prestigious high school competition — the only all-black, female team to make it that far.

“Hidden figures in the making,” one of the teens wrote in a celebratory text message to her teammates and coaches, a reference to the 2016 movie about the true story of three African American women who worked for NASA in the 1960s.

The next stage of the science competition included public voting, and the Banneker High School students — Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, all 17-year-old high school juniors — turned to social media to promote their project.

But while the teens were gaining traction on social media and racking up votes, users on 4chan — an anonymous Internet forum where users are known to push hoaxes and spew racist and homophobic comments — were trying to ensure the students wouldn’t win.

The anonymous posters used racial epithets, argued that the students’ project did not deserve to be a finalist and said that the black community was voting for the teens only because of their race. They urged people to vote against the Banneker trio, and one user offered to put the topic on an Internet thread about President Trump to garner more attention. They recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system to give a team of teenage boys a boost.

NASA said in a statement that voting was compromised, prompting it to shut down public voting earlier than expected. The federal space agency said it encourages the use of social media to build support for projects but wrote in a statement Tuesday that public voting was ended because people “attempted to change the vote totals.”

“Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention yesterday that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students . . . but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encourage others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote, and the attempt to manipulate the vote occurred shortly after those posts,” the NASA statement read.

“NASA continues to support outreach and education for all Americans, and encourages all of our children to reach for the stars.”

The federal agency named eight finalists — including the Banneker group — and said it will announce the winners this month. In addition to the public voting, judges assess the projects to determine the winners, who are invited to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for two days of workshops, with the winning team receiving a $4,000 stipend to cover expenses.

Sharrieff, Skinner and Snell did not talk about the controversies tainting the voting but said in interviews Tuesday that they are excited about the positive attention their project has received from classmates, the D.C. community and even strangers on social media.

Prominent black activists and organizations, including one of the leaders of the Women’s March, helped spread the word about the competition, saying that black women are underrepresented in science and that the public should help propel the Banneker students to the top of the competition.

One of Sharrieff’s tweets urging her followers to vote for the project was retweeted more than 2,000 times. And someone even set up an online fundraiser for college scholarships for the teens.

“In the STEM field, we are underrepresented,” Sharrieff said, referring to the widely used acronym for the science, technology, engineering and math fields. “It’s important to be role models for a younger generation who want to be in the STEM field but don’t think they can.”

The NASA competition called on students to find creative ways to use space technology in their everyday lives. The teens said they considered dozens of ideas but settled on a water purification system because they noticed some water fountains in their school could not be used because of potential lead contamination.

They worked at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator — a technology lab focused on diversity and entrepreneurship near Howard University — where they volunteer, and their mentor at the incubator encouraged them to compete and supervised them on weekends as they built a prototype.

The teens purchased two jars, placing meters in each to test the purity of the water. In one jar, the teens place shards of copper in the water — with the copper acting as the experimental contaminant. An electric fan spins the water while filtering floss — a type of fiber — collects contaminated particles. Once clean, the water is transferred by a straw into the second jar. The meters verify that the water is clean, and the teens said they trust their system so much, they drank the water.

The filtration system is based on NASA technology used to develop automatic pool purifiers.

“Ours actually shows you that the water you are drinking is clean,” Snell said.

Sharrieff, Snell and Skinner, who are all on the cheerleading team, said they plan to go to college and pursue careers rooted in science.

Skinner wants to be a pediatric surgeon, Sharrieff aims to be a biomedical engineer, and Snell hopes to be an anesthesiologist.

“The popular norm is sports and modeling and advertising,” Skinner said. “And for people to see our faces, and see we’re just regular girls, and we want to be scientists.”

By Perry Stein/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Boy Scouts Are Dropping the ‘Boy’ From Their Name A move to reflect the new, more inclusive vision of scouting in the United States.

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Getty ImagesAndy Lyons

The Boy Scouts are getting a new name. The Boy Scouts of America organization has announced that the name of its scouting program for older kids will soon be “Scouts BSA,” while the name of the organization will retain its current name.

The new names reflects a series of changes that have already been underway. The Boy Scouts of America announced in October 2017 that girls would be allowed into the Cub Scouts beginning in the fall of 2018, with an “early adopter” program to allow girls into councils that opted into integration to start the process as early as January 2018.

Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, described the change this way in a press release:

“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible. That is why it is important that the name for our Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single name approach used for the Cub Scouts. Starting in February 2019, the name of the older youth program will be ‘Scouts BSA,’ and the name of our iconic organization will continue to be Boy Scouts of America.”

According to a BSA FAQ on the Scouting program, the same curriculum will be offered to both boys and girls with no changes based on gender, but there will be separate boy and girl troops that can coordinate to varying degrees based on the decisions of their charter organization. BSA says that these different troops should have different scoutmasters, and that all patrols must be single-gender. Whether to have such troops meet at the same time and do joint ceremonies at the opening and closing of meetings, meanwhile, falls to the charter organization.

As the changes go into effect, charter organizations will have the decision of continuing an existing Boy Scouts program as Scouting for boysessentially business as usual but with a gender-neutral namewith the option but not the requirement to add a program for girls as well.

The changes go into effect officially in February 2019.

By Eric Limer/PopularMechanics

Racial Divide Snapshot: Single Black Women Wealth, $200 – White Women, $15,640

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While women of all races and ethnicities have higher educational levels and suffer lower pay than men overall, their socio-economic status is much closer to men within their racial or ethnic group than with women across racial or ethnic groups.”

As Women’s History Month ends, we at the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative think it is important to reflect upon how racial economic inequality intersects with gender economic inequality. Overall, women earn lower wages and experience higher levels of poverty than men. This holds for Black and Latina women, who also earn lower wages and experience higher poverty rates than White and Asian women. Most women of color face a double disparity: having lower socio-economic outcomes than men, compounded by affiliation with a racial or ethnic group that—whether male or female—has much lower socio-economic indicators than their White counterparts.

Education is one area where women in all major racial and ethnic groups outperform men . Whether Latina, Black, White or Asian American, women’s college graduation rates are between five to 10 percentage points higher than men’s. However, superior education outcomes for women do not lead to superior incomes. Even with a higher likelihood of college education, the median income of all women is only 83% of that earned by men .

This gendered income inequality varies within different racial groups. Asian American and White women, who are more likely to come from higher income backgrounds, earn at about 80% of Asian American and White men’s income. Latina and African American women, who are more likely to come from lower income communities, make about 90% of what Latino and Black men make.

“Superior education outcomes for women do not lead to superior incomes.”

Similarly, a 2015 study from the Assets Funders Network reveals the wealth inequality between single men and women varies between races . While single Black women own only $100 less in wealth than single Black men, disappointingly, the median wealth for single Black women is a mere $200 while the median wealth of single Black men is only $300. Single Latina women hold only $100 in median wealth, $850 lower than single Latino men. Whites have a gender wealth disparity of over $13,000 with a low median wealth of $15,640 for single women and $28,900 for single men. There was no gender wealth data for single Asian Americans in the cited study.

Looking at this income and wealth data together, there are three important takeaways:

* While women of all races and ethnicities have higher educational levels and suffer lower pay than men overall, their socio-economic status is much closer to men within their racial or ethnic group than with women across racial or ethnic groups.

* Ironically, single women from the most economically secure communities face the greatest gender disparities compared to single men in their same demographic group. Not only do they earn a lower share of single men’s income, but the magnitude of wealth inequality is higher as well.

* Although the magnitude of income and wealth inequality between single Black and Latino men and women is relatively small, they sadly earn low income and hold almost zero wealth regardless of gender.

The share of women of color in America’s female population and the workforce is growing. It is increasingly evident that to tackle gender inequality, we also have to tackle the racial economic divide that is so deeply ingrained in this country.

To learn more about this issue, dive into following Racial Wealth Snapshot that focuses on women and the racial wealth divide, part of our series of snapshots highlighting disparities in racial wealth. Our last snapshot looked at racial wealth indicators within the Black community .

Racial Wealth Snapshot: Women and the Racial Wealth Divide

The historical legacy of the racial wealth divide when combined with gender inequality makes women of color uniquely economically insecure. The greatest socio-economic disparities for most women of color are rooted in racial inequality, which is then worsened by smaller but significant gendered disparities. It follows that, within the most economically disenfranchised racial and ethnic groups, such as Blacks and Latinos, gendered disparities are usually much smaller than among Whites. African American women and Latinas experience greater gender economic equality within their racial and ethnic groups. However, this parity is more an equality in economic disenfranchisement than an equality in economic wellbeing.

Workforce and Income

According to the 2013 Current Population Survey , more African American and Latina women work in the service and production industries than White women, who tend to work in management. Service and production jobs generally offer lower wages and lack favorable tax codes or valuable government benefits that make it difficult for working women’s income to turn into wealth.

According to a 2014 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the weekly median income of women was $719, while men earned a median income of $871. As such, women’s median income was 83% of what men earned.

An even bigger disparity occurs when both race and gender are considered. Using weekly earnings, White women earned $734, Black women earned $611 and Latina women earned $548, meaning Black and Latina women earned 83% and 75%, respectively, of White women’s weekly earnings. Similarly, White men earned $897, Black men earned $680 and Latino men earned $616 on a weekly basis, showing that Black men made 76% of the weekly median income of White men and Latinos only made 69%. Latina and Black women only made 61% and 68% of White men’s earnings, respectively. Conversely, Asian American women’s median weekly income was $841 a week , 115% of the pay of White women. Asian American men earned $1,080 weekly, 120% of the pay of White men.

Wealth

According to a 2015 brief from Asset Funders Network Center , the “2013 Survey of Consumer Finances data” showed that the median wealth for single women was $3,210 while the median wealth for single men was $10,150. Single women held only 32 cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by a single man.

There is a greater gender wealth inequality when looking across individual racial lines. Per the 2015 Asset Funders Network report, the median wealth of single White women was $15,640. Yet, the median wealth for single Black women and Latina women was $200 and $100, respectively—about one cent for every dollar of White women’s wealth. On the other hand, while White men’s median wealth was $28,900; Latino men’s wealth was $950 and Black men’s wealth was $300, about three cents and one cent on every dollar of White men’s wealth, respectively.

Poverty Rates

According to the 2015 Current Population Survey , 16.9 million women and 11.7 million men lived in poverty. That is wholly 13.4% of women and 9.9% of men in the US. Disparities grow when race is factored in: 9.6% of White women live in poverty while 20.9% of Latina women, 11.7% of Asian women and 23.1% of Black women do. For comparison, 7.1% of White men, 14.7% of Latino men, 10.6% of Asian men and 18.2% of Black men lived in poverty.

Unemployment

Per the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics , for the last quarter of 2017, the unemployment rate was four percent for men and 3.8% for women. White men’s unemployment rate was 3.5% and White women’s rate an even lower 3.3%. During the last quarter of 2017, Asian American men and women had remarkably low unemployment rates of 2.8% and 2.7%, respectively. African Americans, on the other hand, had the highest unemployment levels: a total of seven percent, with African American men at 7.8% and African American women at 6.3%. Finally, Latinos are the only demographic group in which unemployment for men is lower than women, with the Latino unemployment rate at 4.3% and Latinas at 5.2%.

Educational Achievement

Despite generally having lower socio-economic indicators, women in all our demographic groups had substantially higher college graduation rates than men. According to the Fact Sheet from Center for Global Policy Solutions , in 2013, 62% of Asian American women and 53% of Asian American men had college degrees. Forty-four percent of White women and 37% of White men had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2013. Women’s stronger academic achievement continues within the African American and Latino communities with 23.2% of Black women and 17.4% of Black men having earned degrees, and 19% of Latinas and 13% of Latinos holding college degrees.

By Dedrick Asante-Muhammad/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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