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EXCLUSIVE — RNC: ‘President Understands Importance of the Black Vote,’ Hires Paris Dennard to Engage Black Community

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Dennard, a longtime GOP political commentator, writer, consultant, and strategist, will work to ensure that African Americans and other minorities are aware of President Trump’s efforts to support their communities.

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Paris Dennard is the Republican National Committee’s Senior Communications Advisor of Black Media Affairs.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has appointed Paris Dennard as the organization’s new Senior Communications Advisor of Black Media Affairs.

“We are thrilled for Paris to officially join our team! A fierce advocate for our President and our Party, he will be a great leading voice as we continue to grow our all-encompassing approach to expand our presence in black communities,” said McDaniel. “He will help us connect with voters on the issues they care about and work to re-elect President Trump and secure Republican victories up and down the ballot on November 3rd.”

Dennard, a longtime GOP political commentator, writer, consultant, and strategist, will work to ensure that African Americans and other minorities are aware of President Trump’s efforts to support their communities.

In an exclusive interview with NNPA Newswire, Dennard said Trump has been “pained” by unflattering and unfair characterizations that do not reflect his work as president.

He said the president also understands the importance of the Black vote, and the GOP is committed to demonstrating its value to all communities.

“I won’t sugarcoat it. It is a challenge to get the Republican Party’s and the Trump Administration’s campaign message to the Black community,” Dennard stated.

“But it’s a challenge that’s worth fighting for because I believe, at the end of the day, President Trump and the Republican Party want to earn the vote of the Black community.”

Dennard added that the RNC and Trump have platforms and policies that would resonate more soundly and positively in the Black community.

Those policies include the First Step Act, a law that reduced sentences for some drug offenses; Criminal Justice Reform, The Future Act, which assures funding for historically Black colleges and universities; and new Black Voices for Trump Community Centers.

“As long as they have an open heart and open mind to receive the factual information of all the good things that the GOP under President Trump’s leadership has been doing over the past three years,” he said.

“What I hope to do is work with Black media, specifically the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which is Black-owned newspapers and media companies. I want to show my community that, as a proud Black American, this is what the administration is doing to celebrate the successes of Black people,” Dennard continued.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona, where he grew up reading the Arizona Informant newspaper, Dennard earned two degrees in Public Relations and Political Science from Pepperdine University in California.

From 2005 to 2009, he worked in The White House under President George W. Bush, serving in the offices of Political Affairs, Legislative Affairs, and Public Liaison.

He also served as The White House Director of Black Outreach, where his primary role was liaison to the Black community at large.

Dennard, a member of the Black Voices for Trump Advisory Board, also provided commentary on BET, BBC, CBN, MSNBC, Fox News, TVONE, OAN, and CNN.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there. In order for my community to be more educated, the GOP and the Trump campaign have to engage the Black community more directly. I know RNC Chairwoman McDaniel understands that the president understands we have to take the information and get it directly to the people, where they are, what they listen to, and what they read,” Dennard said.

“That’s why the Black Press is important because it’s still what many of us value and trust.”

Despite only receiving 8 percent of the Black vote during the 2016 election, Dennard said Trump hasn’t given up hope that African Americans will eventually support him.

“There’s no question that the divisiveness we see in the country has always been there, but it is greater now,” Dennard noted.

“At the end of the day, the president is a threat to all traditional Democrats and liberals. He threatens the narrative because he does things that traditional Republican presidents didn’t do. He consistently campaigned for the Black vote, and he didn’t stop.

“Every single year he’s worked for a group that only gave him 8 percent of the vote. Most people would tell him to focus on someone else. I’ve heard him tell the story about his concern for Black America and how it really upset him when he saw the state of Urban America that had been neglected under the leadership of Democrats.

“Housing and the economy were so bad, so he said, what the hell do you have to lose. From that moment, he wanted to ensure that Black communities knew they had a champion in him.”

Dennard believes what Trump has accomplished – from Criminal Justice Reform to the Future Act– is unprecedented.

“What he’s been able to do with Criminal Justice Reform is remarkable,” Dennard said.

“President Obama, for whatever reason, wasn’t able to get meaningful reform done. President Bush, for whatever reason, didn’t. President Clinton didn’t.”

Though the president has annoyed many with his penchant for tweeting, Dennard noted that one of those infamous tweets was what helped to push Criminal Justice Reform through the Senate.

“Mitch McConnell wasn’t going to bring it the floor because he didn’t think he had the votes for it to pass,” Dennard recalled. “The president worked behind the scenes with Republicans and some Democrats to get it done, and he tweeted at McConnell to bring it up for a vote.”

Dennard added that the president has continued efforts of engaging African Americans, which includes more outreach to the Black Press and the new Black Voices for Trump Community Centers.

The centers are located in Tallahassee, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Detroit, Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro, N.C.

They are stocked with campaign items, including videos of African American Trump supporters expressing their support for the president’s re-election, and pamphlets detailing Trump’s record in the Black community.

“These centers have rolled out in predominately Black neighborhoods,” Dennard noted.

“We are going to be hiring at these facilities, and they will be fully staffed, which means lots of jobs. One of the things we wanted when Black Voices for Trump organized was ways to communicate. We took out ads in Black-owned newspapers in Florida and on the radio.

“We wanted to get the word out. The RNC gets it. I know the White House gets it. They understand the important role that Black media plays, and I hope that in my position, I can continue to expand what the White House and the Campaign has been doing in terms of engagement.”

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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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