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Black History Month: Two Centuries of Black History and the Black Press

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The Black Press is an aspect of the fabric of the Black existence in America that is not getting enough attention or support from the community,” Kisha A. Brown, the founder and CEO of Justis Connection, told NNPA Newswire.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

In the March 2018 story, “Race News: Chronicling the Black Press and fight for Justice,” journalist Tony Pecinovsky noted that the rocky relationship between journalism and the struggle for African-American equality, like any other courtship, is full of ebbs and flows, fluctuations that often times mirror larger societal changes.

“Exploring this relationship, in all its nuance and complexity, is especially important today as we try to discern and understand contemporary reality, a reality the Trump Administration increasingly attempts to obscure and mystify with its reliance on “alternative facts…’ ‘…facts’ that oftentimes lack quantifiable, tangible evidence,” Pecinovsky said.

In that context, he said Fred Carroll’s book, “Race News: Black Journalists and the Fight for Racial Justice in the Twentieth Century,” is a welcome addition to the understanding of both journalistic and African-American history.

Some historians have rightly begun to see the struggle for African-American equality through the lens of the “long Civil Rights revolution.”

“Thankfully, Carroll also sees the role of ‘race news’ through the lens of a long struggle and notes that early twentieth century commercial publishers proudly traced their lineage back to black journalism’s beginnings… to its very first newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, which was founded in 1827,” Pecinovsky said.

He also noted that the “black news industry was owned, produced, and consumed primarily independent of white oversight,” thereby enabling black journalists to “package their mission of ending racial discrimination and securing citizenship rights within a profit-oriented, objective presentation of current events designed to cater to the many interests of the largest possible black readership.”

The Black Press remains as viable as ever.

“The Black Press is an aspect of the fabric of the Black existence in America that is not getting enough attention or support from the community,” Kisha A. Brown, the founder and CEO of Justis Connection, told NNPA Newswire.

Justis Connection is an organization committed to connecting top legal talent of color to local communities and Brown said the Black Press plays a large role in telling the stories of those communities.

She said African Americans need to honor that.

“We rally to support athletes and artists who are ‘wronged’ by the system but what we fail to honor is the voice of the Black Press that has been capturing our stories for centuries,” Brown said.

“Long before Black Twitter and online blogs … and so the Black Press is not only an essential voice, but it is also a historical and cultural archaeological goldmine that we must preserve.”

One of the oldest Black-owned business industries in America, The Black Press began more than 191 years ago.

On March 16, 1827, the first edition of “Freedom’s Journal” was published, thrusting African-Americans into the bustling publishing business. At the time, Blacks in America weren’t even considered citizens, most were slaves and forbidden to read or write.

However, John Russwurm and Reverend Samuel Cornish rose up bravely, declaring that, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the historic “Chicago Crusader” newspaper and Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), said in an earlier interview that when Russwurm and Cornish established the Black Press by publishing “Freedom’s Journal,” they wanted to provide a voice for Black people.

The Black Press became one of the only means of communication between Black people.

“Black men and women were vilified in the New York press in the 1800s,” Leavell said. “Some White newspaper publishers sought to defend the dignity, honor and character of Black people, however, Russwurm and Cornish said they, ‘wish to plead our own cause.’”

Without the Black Press, genuine stories of African-Americans would go untold, Robert W. Bogle, the publisher of the “The Philadelphia Tribune,” said during a recent NNPA conference.

Bogle said that only Black people can tell their stories accurately. “We are as relevant today as we were when the ‘Freedom’s Journal’ said they wanted to tell our story in our words,” said Bogle.

NNPA, the Black Press of America, represents more than 215 African-American owned newspapers and media companies around the country with a combined weekly subscribership of more than 22 million.

When celebrating the 190th anniversary of the Black Press in 2017, NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., said that March 16, 2017 is a sacred historical day in the long, multi-dimensional freedom struggle of African people in America and throughout the world, because of the courage of Russwurm and Cornish who dared first to publish the “Freedom’s Journal.”

Chavis said that the Black Press in America has been on the frontlines of social change in the United States for [more than 190] years. “Today, more than ever, the Black Press remains the trusted and audacious voice of Black America,” said Chavis.

“Today, the NNPA continues this irrepressible tradition of publishing truth to power. Our freedom fighting publishers are all united as we reaffirm the vital importance and relevance of the Black Press now and into the future.”

And, as African Americans and others observe Black History Month, Brown said she’d like to see the Black Press continue to capture current events that aren’t borne from reports done by other media outlets.

“Tell the story of the Black entrepreneur. There are so many people who are reconnecting with the spirit of our ancestors to get our own bootstraps to pull ourselves up with,” Brown said.

“Black entrepreneurs are daring to defy the business norms in an effort to explore financial freedom and chart new territory that we can call our own.”

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright

THE AFRO — Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.
The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Maya Pottiger, Word in Black

It’s no surprise that we’re living through difficult times. After two years, we’re still in a global pandemic, which has predominantly impacted people of color. In addition, Book bans, attacks on critical race theory, and partisan political fights target everything from Black youths’ sexuality, to history, to health.

And we’re seeing the effects.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.

For a variety of reasons — ongoing stigma, lack of insurance, most accessible — Black students often rely on the mental health services offered at school.Outside of a mental health-specific practice, Black students were nearly 600 times as likely to get mental health help in an academic setting compared to other options, according to 2020 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In fact, mental health services in schools have been steadily gaining popularity among students since 2009, before dropping slightly in 2020 when the school year was interrupted, according to the SAMHSA report. As a result, the rate of students receiving mental health care through school decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

So how are schools changing the way they address and prioritize mental health — and the specific needs of Black students — since 2020?

The Renewed Focus on Mental Health

For school-aged people, the majority of their time is spent in a school building — about eight hours per day, 10 months out of the year. To help address mental health during academic hours, schools are trying to focus on social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. This includes teaching kids how to be in touch with their emotions and protect against adverse mental health outcomes.

But it’s been difficult.

Though there’s been more conversation, the implementation is challenging, says Dr. Kizzy Albritton, an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. There was already a shortage of school-based mental health professionals before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated, as have mental health issues. In addition, though schools clearly recognize the importance of mental health, they aren’t always provided adequate resources.

“Unless there are more resources funneled into the school system, we’re going to see a continued catch-up issue across the board,” Albritton says. “And, unfortunately, our Black students are going to continue to suffer the most.”

In a survey of high school principals and students, Education Week Research Center found discrepancies in how principals and students viewed a school’s mental health services. While 86 percent of the principals said their schools provided services, only about 66 percent of students agreed. The survey did point out it’s possible the school offers these services and students aren’t aware. The survey also found Black and Latinx students were less likely than their peers to say their schools offered services.

Dr. Celeste Malone, the president-elect of the National Association for School Psychologists and a Howard University associate professor, says she hasn’t previously seen this degree of attention to mental health in schools.

“I see that a lot in my role for a school psychology graduate program: the outreach and people contacting me with openings where they didn’t exist previously,” Malone says. “With this increased push in funding to hire more, that’s definitely a very, very positive movement.”

Mental Health Is Not One Size Fits All

Just like with many aspects of health, Black youths need different mental health support from their peers of other races. They need a counselor who understands their lived experiences, like microaggressions and other forms of discrimination or racism, without the student having to explain.

For example, in order to best address the specific mental health needs of Black students, districts need to provide information breaking down mental health stigmas; focus on hiring Black counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals; and fund anti-racist and trauma-informed mental health practices, according to the Center for American Progress.

While she hears a lot of talk, Albritton says she isn’t seeing widespread evidence of these solutions in practice.

“There needs to be a willingness, first of all, to understand that our Black students, their needs look a lot different,” Albritton says. School officials need to understand where Black students are coming from — that their families and households experience systemic and structural racism, which are known to trigger anxiety and depression. The effects of the racial wealth gap also play a role, from the neighborhood kids are living in, to the schools they can attend to the impacts on their health. Students might be bringing worries about these challenges to school, which could be reflected in their behavior. This is why, Albritton says, it’s crucial to also work with students’ families.

The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .

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