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COMMENTARY: Commemorating 400 Years of the African Diaspora Experience

THE AFRO — History commonly and most often points to late August in the year 1619 when some “20 and odd Negroes” originating from Angola arrived in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia as the first documented enslaved Africans to land in what is now the United States. This nation and its wealth was built through forced labor and the very existence of Black men and women. It’s truly ironic that as this country celebrates 400 years of democracy, the Black community is still fighting for equal rights, justice and freedom.

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Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO. (Courtesy Photo)

By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

History commonly and most often points to late August in the year 1619 when some “20 and odd Negroes” originating from Angola arrived in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia as the first documented enslaved Africans to land in what is now the United States. This nation and its wealth was built through forced labor and the very existence of Black men and women.

It’s truly ironic that as this country celebrates 400 years of democracy, the Black community is still fighting for equal rights, justice and freedom.

The century that followed emancipation saw the creation of policies that discriminated against black people and largely excluded them from wealth building, creating an inherited disadvantage for future generations. This is why the idea of reparations, brought forth during the Civil War era, has continued to be a topic of grave concern for the NAACP.

On a daily basis, we grapple with domestic terrorism and state sanctioned violence in the guise of white supremacy — all under the watch of one of the most racist administrations since the Jim Crow era. Along with his xenophobic policies, President Donald Trump is doing all he can to punish immigrants and alienate Black Americans, using hateful tweets and chants of “Send her back,” as a rallying cry for his base. At NAACP’s annual convention, our delegates voted unanimously to call on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

We can’t and won’t whitewash or glorify this experience — but it has made us stronger and more resilient than ever.

We know from the incredible Black voter turnout in the midterm elections that African-Americans are not only the most critical voting bloc, but the most powerful when we are encouraged to participate actively in our Democracy.

Next week, the NAACP, will embark on a historic and spiritual journal to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. More than 200 African-Americans will pay homage to the strength, power and resilience of our people.

In our journey from Jamestown, Virginia to Ghana, we will not only retrace the footsteps of our ancestors through the slave dungeons and along the shores where the enslaved had their last bath before their trek to the western world – we will also immerse ourselves in the vibrant culture and join leading government and business leaders to learn more about business, development and investment in Ghana.

Through this experience, we hope to actualize the healing and collective unity so many generations have worked to achieve in ways which bring power to our communities in America, Africa and throughout our Diaspora.

Derrick Johnson is the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Afro-American Newspapers.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Congressional Black Caucus officially endorses Biden

NNPA NEWSWIRE — President Joe Biden has successfully chartered the support of high-ranking Congress members with an endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus. The group met with the leader virtually on Monday eager to learn more about a campaign comeback plan after turmoil sparked by the June 27 presidential debate.
The post Congressional Black Caucus officially endorses Biden first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Ashleigh Fields

President Joe Biden has successfully chartered the support of high-ranking Congress members with an endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus. The group met with the leader virtually on Monday eager to learn more about a campaign comeback plan after turmoil sparked by the June 27 presidential debate. Biden pleaded with members reportedly telling them, “’I need you. I want you to be fully engaged.” Later he added, “You’ve had my back and I’ve got yours.”

Biden took questions from the lawmakers who represent 120 million Americans combined reaffirming his zeal for a second term. “I will continue to stand with the president and the people who elected him to be our nominee. “He is the best candidate to be in this race,” Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) told the NNPA after the call describing his current term as “extraordinary.” The North Carolina representative’s support will be crucial to Biden as he continues to visit the battleground state. Many are looking to see if his performance in Raleigh after the debate and frequent visits to Wilmington will seal the deal for voters who formerly sided with Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The call with CBC members also served as a chance for the president to firm up his support in states like Nevada where he won by a slight margin in the last cycle. Horsford says his constituents are looking for the nation’s next leader to make decisions that are cost-effective and financially fruitful. “The voters in Nevada care about a thriving and equitable economy, taking on big corporations to lower costs and protecting the hard-bought freedoms, rights, and opportunities we’ve Earned,” Horsford posted on X the day after the meeting. “They’re focused on moving forward and reject the divisive politics of those who would like to take us back.”

The Biden-Harris ticket has boasted about reform that could uplift minority communities including tax credits for first-time home buyers and plans to remove medical debt from credit scores. Both proposals aim to ease the financial burden and stress that often prevents families from climbing the ladder of social/economic mobility. Throughout Vice President Kamala Harris’ economic freedom tour and publicized speeches from Biden the goal has always been to, “build from the middle out and the bottom up.” However, Trump has raked in support from a wide array of people because of his strong stance on immigration policy, promising to facilitate the largest deportation in American history if elected president. He believes illegal immigrants are dominating good-paying American jobs for lower wages driving the economy into distress.

“The fact is that his [Biden’s] big kill on the Black people is the millions of people that he’s allowed to come in through the border. They’re taking Black jobs now,” Trump said during the debate. “They’re taking Black jobs and they’re taking Hispanic jobs.” Despite these claims, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus which boasts 38 members officially endorsed Biden on July 9. Chair Nanette Barragan (D-CA-44) and Deputy Chair Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) subsequently released a statement to explain their reasoning. “President Biden and his Administration have worked closely with House Democrats to make historic investments to positively impact communities across the country, including Latinos, such as investments to combat climate change, lower healthcare costs, expand access to healthcare for our veterans, and create jobs with the infrastructure bill,” the two shared.

Although Biden has received the affirmation of many over the past few days, Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA-39), Adam Smith (D-WA-9), and Joe Morelle (D-NY-25) have been publicly adamant about Biden dropping out of the race. Others like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-11) have remained moderate and encouraged others to hold out fate until after Biden’s performance at NATO this week. “I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides we go with,” Pelosi said on Morning Joe. “Let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week.”

The post Congressional Black Caucus officially endorses Biden first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Drug Used to Treat Diabetes Now a Weight Loss Miracle but Difficult to Obtain in Black and Brown Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE — In early 2022, Ozempic rose to fame when celebrities who do not suffer from diabetes began publicizing the drugs’ ability to assist in fast acting weight loss. It quickly went from a lifesaving medication for diabetics to the celebrity go to for shedding unwanted pounds. In 2021, in the US alone, prescriptions of the drug quadrupled landing the miracle drug on the worldwide shortage list creating rippling effects through many communities.
The post Drug Used to Treat Diabetes Now a Weight Loss Miracle but Difficult to Obtain in Black and Brown Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Small pharmacies find difficulty in prescribing the drug due to Big Pharma restrictions

By Andre ‘M. Johnson

According to a recent study published in Lucent, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide is on pace to more than double in the next three decades. This increase will bring the total of worldwide diabetic patients to a staggering 1.3 billion by 2025, making diabetes one of the top 10 leading causes of death and disability, in the world.

On December 5th of 2017, a little-known drug hit the market to help millions of people suffering with diabetes. The drug was called Ozempic. Ozempic was created to lower blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin and has shown continual success in patients with lowering their A1-C. The introduction of medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy has changed the game for millions of people worldwide who have been struggling with diabetes. It was a once weekly auto injector that would allow patients to maintain their sugar levels and create a healthier way of life. One of its known side effects, however, was dramatic weight loss.

In early 2022, Ozempic rose to fame when celebrities who do not suffer from diabetes began publicizing the drugs’ ability to assist in fast acting weight loss. It quickly went from a lifesaving medication for diabetics to the celebrity go to for shedding unwanted pounds. In 2021, in the U.S. alone, prescriptions of the drug quadrupled landing the miracle drug on the worldwide shortage list creating rippling effects through many communities.

Valentine Paterson of Brooklyn, New York thought he had found a solution to his endless battle with obesity and diabetes when he was prescribed Ozempic. The effects were almost immediate and life altering. “I weighed more than 365 pounds and after being hospitalized for heart failure, my doctor recommended I take Ozempic,” said Paterson a 52-year-old Uber driver. “Within four months of taking the drug, I lost 65 pounds, and my doctor reduced my other medications from nine to four. It changed my life. But then I could not get my prescription filled. I looked for months; it was a nightmare. All the work and progress I was making was slipping away, all because I was unable to pay out of pocket.”

The reason Mr. Paterson could not get his prescription filled is because Mr. Paterson’s local pharmacy, like many others nationwide, was no longer able to obtain the blockbuster medication. The craze of Ozempic and Wegovy created a nationwide shortage of medication by those willing to pay the exorbitant out-of-pocket costs getting first cracks at the available supply. So, while pharmacies in lower income neighborhoods could not stock their shelves, pharmacies on Manhattan’s Upper Eastside had a twelve-month supply of the miracle drug readily available to those able to pay $1,400.00 per prescription. Given this void, the question was raised as to whether anyone or anything could help.

Enter the compounding pharmacy. According to the FDA, compounding pharmacies are authorized to produce exact drugs in times of a national shortage. But what exactly is a compounding pharmacy? A compounding pharmacy makes and sells prescription medicines based on the specific formula provided to it by the FDA. When a medicine makes its way to the national shortage list, compounding pharmacies are authorized to make generic versions of those medications to assist all those in need. When a medicine is not on the national shortage list, compounding pharmacies are only authorized to make alternate forms of the prescribed drug. Ozempic has been on both the worldwide and US shortage list since April of 2022. However, what happens when Big Pharma doesn’t want to let compounding pharmacies earn money they feel belongs to them even during a shortage?

“Lifeline Pharmacy” is a small compounding pharmacy run by Dr. Aisha Johnson in the heart of south Los Angeles. For years, this pharmacy has served as a beacon of hope, providing personalized care and essential medications to the predominantly Black and Latino residents. Among the most critical medications Dr. Johnson compounds is semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Black adults are nearly twice as likely as white adults to develop type 2 diabetes. This racial disparity has been rising over the last 30 years creating a disproportionate need for these life altering medications in communities of color. Despite the FDA’s approval for compounding pharmacies to produce semaglutide, Novo Nordisk has targeted these providers in order to protect their profits and eliminate the competition.

In the Ward 8 area of Washington, D.C., a heavily populated community of Black and Latino residents, the drug remains in high demand with little to no supply. “There is definitely a monopoly on it by Big Pharma,” said Dr. Damon Ricks, Pharmacy Manager at SIP. “Small Compounding Pharmacies are definitely within their rights and scope to create these drugs when the FDA declares a shortage.”

The impact of Big Pharma’s campaign is being felt in communities from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles, CA. The misinformation spread by Novo Nordisk, stating that compounded versions of semagludies are unsafe and potentially life threating has created fear and uncertainty in those using compounded versions of the popular medication. Intensifying the problem, legislative proposals influenced by pharmaceutical lobbyists threatened to impose restrictions that would make it nearly impossible for small pharmacies to continue compounding semaglutide. For communities of color, this means losing a critical source of affordable and accessible medication.

“Big Pharma should not have a hold on these drugs. There needs to be a leveling of the playing field. I think having access to these drugs all across the board is needed. If a patient needs it for diabetes, then it should be made available to them. Prioritizing weight loss over diabetic patients is an injustice to our health care system,” said Ricks.

But Big Pharma continues to push for stricter regulations, claiming the need for patient safety. However, insufficient evidence exists to back up any of the claims made by Big Pharma. Compounding pharmacies must comply with existing rigorous standards to make any medication. They follow these standards in order to serve lower economic depressed communities of color. The popularity of these drugs has made it difficult for average Americans to afford or find these medications. These are not just weight loss medications; they are tools for survival for many diabetic patients. Due to Big Pharma’s bullying campaign, many patients have been forced to accept lower doses of these drugs to maintain any benefits even though most experience little to no progress with the reduced dosage. Yet those that truly need these lifesaving medications continue to suffer.

For communities of color, the ability of local compounding pharmacies to provide semaglutide and other essential medications is about more than access to treatment. They serve as a testament to the power of community and the relentless pursuit of a more just and equitable healthcare system.

The post Drug Used to Treat Diabetes Now a Weight Loss Miracle but Difficult to Obtain in Black and Brown Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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About Those ‘Black Jobs’: Biden Administration Shows Better Record of Black Cabinet Leaders Than Trump

PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE — “The characterization of Black jobs by Donald Trump, who only had one Black person in his Cabinet, is not only demeaning to the African American community but a concerning issue from the perspective of the NAACP,” said NAACP Philadelphia Branch President Cathy Hicks in a statement Friday. “It is important to recognize that African Americans hold positions in every job industry and contribute significantly to the American workforce. Stereotyping and generalizing job roles based on race is not only inaccurate but also perpetuates harmful biases towards the African American community…”
The post About Those ‘Black Jobs’: Biden Administration Shows Better Record of Black Cabinet Leaders Than Trump first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Marco Cerino | Philadelphia Tribune Staff Writer

As former president and presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump attempts to court Black voters who feel disillusioned by President Joe Biden’s administration, it should be noted that Trump’s idea of “Black jobs” does not include high-ranking positions in his administration.

An analysis of the two main presidential candidates on the 2024 ballot shows a stark contrast in the makeup of their administrations.

The appointment of Gen. Charles Q. Brown to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff made him the ninth Black person in a high-ranking position under Biden, including Cabinet secretaries and those in Cabinet-level roles like United Nations ambassador, director of national intelligence and trade adviser.

Despite having 62 different names in appointed or acting roles, Trump only included one Black person in his administration at that level — Dr. Ben Carson served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

“The characterization of Black jobs by Donald Trump, who only had one Black person in his Cabinet, is not only demeaning to the African American community but a concerning issue from the perspective of the NAACP,” said NAACP Philadelphia Branch President Cathy Hicks in a statement Friday. “It is important to recognize that African Americans hold positions in every job industry and contribute significantly to the American workforce. Stereotyping and generalizing job roles based on race is not only inaccurate but also perpetuates harmful biases towards the African American community. It is essential to promote equality and fair treatment in the workplace, ensuring that all individuals have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive in their chosen careers. Trump cannot say he is the best for the Black community and Black vote, if he can only see us in marginalized positions.”

Biden appointed the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year when Brown assumed the role for a four-year term. The decision seems to reflect the prioritizing of diversity in the Biden administration among Cabinet members and senior staff, one of his many significant departures from his predecessor.

Nyron Crawford, an assistant professor of political science at Temple University, believes the “Black jobs” comments were mainly a political maneuver, aimed to create a wedge issue around immigrants.

The lone Black appointee, he said, does serve as a reminder of Trump’s combative history with the Black community, including his demands that the Central Park Five be sentenced harshly, concerns over a Black contestant winning season one of “The Apprentice,” and other callous comments and stances.

“Donald Trump has no real regard for African Americans,” Crawford told The Tribune in an interview Monday about Trump’s record. “It doesn’t really serve a purpose. It’s not backed by any policy. Biden has done well on [appointing Blacks to high-level positions], compared to predecessors.”

Historically, it has been a challenge to get Black faces and voices into Cabinet roles.

President Lyndon Johnson was the first to appoint a Black person to his Cabinet, naming Robert Weaver to lead HUD in 1966. Of the 25-total appointed in history, 18 have been under Democratic presidents, while seven have been selected by Republicans, including four under President George W. Bush.

The Clinton administration had the most African American Cabinet secretaries with seven overall, including four appointed when taking office in January 1993. The Obama administration had four Black Cabinet members at once, the most in history. Vice President Kamala Harris is the highest-ranking Black Cabinet member ever.

Historical firsts for Blacks in high-profile government roles usually come during Democratic administrations. Biden broke through another glass ceiling with his nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who joined the Supreme Court in September 2022 as the first Black female justice. Trump added three white justices to the bench, who have voted to support conservative decisions like the weakening of affirmative action, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and, most recently, granting immunity for “official acts” of a president.

“The temperament and tone of a presidential administration is set by its people,” political commentator Jay McCalla said in an interview Monday. “Trump’s Cabinet members were largely sycophants. Trump has been conspicuously against Black folks. Trump’s coalition wanted a certified mouthpiece for their right-wing blather, so they chose Ben Carson.”

Multiple calls for comments were made to Philadelphia Republican leaders and have gone unreturned at time of print.

mcerino@phillytrib.com 215-893-5700

The post About Those ‘Black Jobs’: Biden Administration Shows Better Record of Black Cabinet Leaders Than Trump first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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