Medical Matters

2:1 Rate at which African-Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest compared with Caucasians.

Medical Matters

Blacks More Likely to Die Suddenly From Cardiac Arrest, Study Finds

African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to die from sudden cardiac arrest, and they are younger on average when it happens, too, researchers reported Monday.

It’s more troubling evidence that blacks have more severe heart disease than whites, but it’s still not clear why.

Sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by heart attacks but it’s also caused by irregular heart beat and electrical disturbances. The study of more than 100 blacks and 1,200 whites who suffered cardiac arrest in the Portland area showed that blacks were, on average, six years younger than whites when it happened.

Blacks were also more likely to have other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, than whites.

“We do not know why African-Americans are more likely to have sudden cardiac arrest,” said Kyndaron Reinier of the the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, who led the study.

“It could be due to the higher burden of illnesses that increase risk of heart disease, like hypertension and diabetes. Or it could be genetic because we know that certain health conditions are more prevalent in particular groups of people. Or, the reason could be environmental, such as access to good healthcare. But there is no doubt that there are differences between the races when it comes to clinical outcomes.”

The study, published in the journal Circulation, adds to a growing number of studies showing that U.S. blacks are far more likely than whites to suffer from many chronic diseases, from heart disease to some types of cancer. Heart attack rates are higher among African-Americans, for instance.

And there’s some evidence that it’s not all due to different diets, different lifestyles or even different access to health care. There’s evidence of biological differences, such as the discovery that one test of heart disease risk is more accurate in black women.

“Because sudden cardiac arrest is usually fatal, we have to prevent it before it strikes,” said Dr. Sumeet Chugh of Cedars-Sinai, senior author on the study. “These findings suggest the possibility that when it comes to prevention of sudden cardiac death, different races and ethnicities may not necessarily be painted with one broad brush.”

A Little Bit Black

A lot of Southern whites are a little bit black

Six million Americans who describe themselves as white have some African ancestry, according to a new study. In percentage terms, that means that roughly 3.5 percent of self-described white Americans have 1 percent or more African ancestry.

To arrive at these numbers, researchers pored over the genetic records of 145,000 people who submitted a cheek swab for testing to 23andme, a private company that provides ancestry-related genetic reports. The researchers examined the genetic records of people of self-described European, African and Latino descent to find the genetic traces left by relatives long-since deceased.

In order to hit that one percent threshold above, for instance, you’d have to have an African relative no further back than seven generations — in other words, a great-great-great-great-great grandparent. And as you might expect, there are some fascinating differences in our genetic admixture at the state level. Southern whites are considerably more likely to have African ancestry than whites from other regions: “European Americans with African ancestry comprise as much as 12% of European Americans from Louisiana and South Carolina and about 1 in 10 individuals in other parts of the South,” the authors found.

That variation makes up part of the genetic inheritance of slavery. As Jenée Desmond-Harris notes over at Vox, the study finds that present-day African-Americans are far more likely to have a European male ancestor (19 percent) than a European female one (5 percent). “That, of course, reflects what historians know about white slave owners raping enslaved women who descended from Africa,” she writes.

Indeed, the average self-described African-American has about 24 percent European ancestry, according to the study, indicating that descriptors like “black” and “white” mean a lot less from a biological standpoint than they do from a cultural one. To dig deeper into this, the authors plotted respondents’ proportion of African ancestry against their likelihood of calling themselves African American.

What they found was that people who were 15 percent African or less generally didn’t describe themselves as African-American, while those who were 50 percent African or greater almost universally did. But in between there was a considerable amount of variation. Those who were about one quarter African were just as likely as not to call themselves African-American.

It’ll be interesting to see how these proportions shift in the coming decades. In 1980, for instance, 6.7 percent of new marriages were between different-race spouses. By 2010, that share had risen to 15.1 percent. And as demographer William Frey notes, “nearly three in 10 new black marriages are multiracial, with most of them to white spouses.” This is especially significant given that as recently as 1967 — within living memory for many Americans — interracial marriages were outlawed in 16 states.

Source: Washington Post

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“Black” vs. “African American”

The Financial Consequences of Saying ‘Black,’ vs. ‘African American’

People make vastly different assumptions about salary, education, and social status depending on which phrase is used.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

One hundred years ago, “Colored” was the typical way of referring to Americans of African descent. Twenty years later, in the time of W.E.B. Du Bois, it was purposefully dropped to make way for “Negro.” By the late 1960s, that term was overtaken by “Black.” And then, at a press conference in a Hyatt hotel in Chicago in 1988, Jesse Jackson declared that “African American” was the term to embrace; that one was chosen because it echoed the labels of groups, such as “Italian Americans” and “Irish Americans,” that had already been freed of widespread discrimination.

A century’s worth of calculated name changes are a testament to the fact that naming any group is a politically freighted exercise. A 2001 study catalogued all the ways in which the term “Black” carried connotations that were more negative than those of “African American.” This is troubling on the level of an individual’s decision making, and these labels are also institutionalized: Only last month, the U.S. Army finally stopped permitting use of the term “Negro” in its official documents, and the American Psychological Association currently says “African American” and “Black” can be used interchangeably in academic writing.

But if it was known that “Black” people were viewed differently from “African Americans,” researchers, until now, hadn’t identified what that gap in perception was derived from. A study, to be published next month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that “Black” people are viewed more negatively than “African Americans” because of a perceived difference in socioeconomic status. As a result, “Black” people are thought of as less competent and as having colder personalities.

The study’s most striking findings shed light on the racial biases undergirding the professional world. Even seemingly innocuous details on a resume, it appears, can tap into recruiters’ biases. A job application might mention affiliations with groups such as the “Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers” or the “National Black Employees Association,” the names of which apparently have consequences—and are also beyond their members’ control.

In one of the study’s experiments, subjects were given a brief description of a man from Chicago with the last name Williams. To one group, he was identified as “African-American,” and another was told he was “Black.” With little else to go on, they were asked to estimate Mr. Williams’s salary, professional standing, and educational background.

The “African-American” group estimated that he earned about $37,000 a year and had a two-year college degree. The “Black” group, on the other hand, put his salary at about $29,000, and guessed that he had only “some” college experience. Nearly three-quarters of the first group guessed that Mr. Williams worked at a managerial level, while 38.5 percent of the second group thought so.

Curiously, the authors of the study itself avoid taking a side in the question of whether to use the term “Black” or “African American,” instead using “Americans of African descent.” The lead author, Emory University’s Erika Hall, told the podcast On the Media that this was done primarily out of a desire not to confuse the reader. She has doubts about the practicality of the term “Americans of African descent”—it’s kind of a mouthful—but is hopeful that a new phrase, purged of the old weight, will arrive someday. “I think a lot of the stigma is embodied in the time in which the term was created,” Hall told On the Media. “Eventually, there shouldn’t be a stigma attached with the word that’s created out of a more positive time.”

Hall’s findings suggest there’s an argument to be made for electing to use “African American,” though one can’t help but get the sense that it’s a decision that papers over the urgency of continued progress. Perhaps a new phrase is needed, one that can bring everyone one asymptotic step closer to realizing Du Bois’s original, idealistic hope: “It’s not the name—it’s the Thing that counts.”

Source: The Atlantic

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Academic Success?

It would be good to have this kind of data for multiracial students.-Susan

Latino and African-American Academic Success Improves, But Gaps Remain

The number of Latinos who leave high school having taken the ACT has nearly doubled in the past five years. Still, fewer than half of Latino graduates who took the ACT met any of its college-readiness benchmarks.

The volume of Latino high school students sitting for at least one Advanced Placement exam has tripled between 2002 and 2012. Yet, among Latino students with high potential for success in AP math, just three out of 10 took any such course.

Despite gains in access, when they finish high school, Latinos are more likely than their white peers to attend for-profit colleges or community colleges, as opposed to four-year univerities where graduation rates are typically higher.

These are some of the statistics included in a new brief, “The State of Education for Latino Students,” released by The Education Trust June 30. It paints of picture of both progress and challenges ahead, as does the companion publication that came out June 23 on education for African-American students. Last fall, the Washington-based education advocacy group released a similar document on the status of native students.

Together, Ed Trust officials hope these documents will be useful tools for policymakers working to close the ongoing achievement and opportunity gaps between these minority groups and their white counterparts.

Latino students are seeing more gains than African-American students, said Daria Hall, director of K-12 policy development for Ed Trust in a phone interview. “The data are clear about gaps in opportunity. Across the board, we are providing African-American students less of everything we know contributes to achievement in schools,” she said. “Those gaps in opportunity cause gaps in achievement.”

The Ed Trust report notes that while 15 percent of graduates in the class of 2013 were African American, they make up only 9 percent of those who took AP tests. Looking at all students who passed an AP exam, just 5 percent were African-American.

Hall said schools need to be more intentional in identifying students who could be successful in rigorous courses and providing support to help them succeed. Also, creating more fair and consistent disciplinary policies would keep students in school for more days and could help solve the problem.

For Latino students, in particular, Hall said schools that have been successful tended to focus on vocabulary and background knowledge for students who are English-language learners.  Also, schools should be creative about use of time. This might mean expanding instruction before and after school, using time differently within the day, and grouping students for needed intervention and support, she said.

Ed Trust is also working to provide students with equitable access to strong teachers who have content knowledge and effective classroom strategies to help close these gaps, added Hall.

Source: Education Week

NAACP News

Amid Budget Problems, NAACP Makes Cuts in National Staff

The NAACP will lay off 7 percent of its national staff as it continues its search for a new president, writes The Baltimore Sun.

The civil rights organization says the cuts are necessary because of financial concerns. A spokesperson did not answer questions regarding how many people would lose their jobs, what types of positions would be cut, and how many layoffs would be at the organization’s Baltimore headquarters.

The announcement indicates renewed financial issues for the NAACP after strides made by its most recent president, Benjamin Jealous, to combat financial stagnation. During his five-year tenure, the organization expanded its donor base from 16,477 to more than 132,000 and nearly doubled its revenues, which reached $46-million in 2012.

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

 

African-Americans and College

African-American Students Inadequately Prepared for College, Says Study

Most African-American students aren’t receiving the education they need to succeed in college, according to a new report.Only 10 percent of African-Americans who graduated high school in 2013 met at least three of the ACT’s four College Readiness Benchmarks, compared to 39 percent of all graduates who took the test. According to the study, released by ACT, the Iowa City, Iowa-based test-maker, students who meet these benchmarks are more likely to persist in college.

The research is reflected in the outcomes. After high school, 63 percent of African-American students who graduated in 2011 enrolled in postsecondary education immediately after high school. However, only 62 percent of those students who enrolled continued for a second year. Of all ACT-tested 2011 graduates, 73 percent persisted.

The classes a student takes in high school are also an indicator of their success in higher learning. The ACT’s recommended core curriculum includes four years of English and three years each of mathematics, social studies, and science. Only 69 percent of ACT-tested African-American students took a core curriculum, compared to 74 percent of all students.

This core curriculum deficit for African-American students is not entirely attributable to individuals’ choice of  classes. Recently released federal data revealed disparities in access to core classes. While 81 percent of Asian-American students and 71 percent of white students had access to a full range of math and sciences courses, only 57 percent of African American students had full access.

The rate of continuation to a second year in obtaining a postsecondary degree was found to be  71 percent, however, for  those African-American students who met at least two of the test’s benchmarks. This is the same rate achieved by all ACT-tested graduates who met at least two benchmarks, suggesting that adequately preparing students for college can help reduce gaps in college-persistence rates.

Source: Education Week/By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

No “Negro” on Census Forms

US stopping use of term ‘Negro’ for census surveys

This handout image obtained by The Associated Press shows question 9:
WASHINGTON (AP) — After more than a century, the Census Bureau is dropping its use of the word “Negro” to describe black Americans in surveys.

Instead of the term that came into use during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, census forms will use the more modern labels “black” or “African-American”.

The change will take effect next year when the Census Bureau distributes its annual American Community Survey to more than 3.5 million U.S. households, Nicholas Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch, said in an interview.

He pointed to months of public feedback and census research that concluded few black Americans still identify with being Negro and many view the term as “offensive and outdated.”

“This is a reflection of changing times, changing vocabularies and changing understandings of what race means in this country,” said Matthew Snipp, a sociology professor at Stanford University, who writes frequently on race and ethnicity. “For younger African-Americans, the term ‘Negro’ harkens back to the era when African-Americans were second-class citizens in this country.”

First used in the census in 1900, “Negro” became the most common way of referring to black Americans through most of the early 20th century, during a time of racial inequality and segregation. “Negro” itself had taken the place of “colored.” Starting with the 1960s civil rights movement, black activists began to reject the “Negro” label and came to identify themselves as black or African-American.

Still, the term has lingered, having been used by Martin Luther King Jr. in his speeches. It also remains in the names of some black empowerment groups that were established before the 1960s, such as the United Negro College Fund, now often referred to as UNCF.

For the 2010 census, the government briefly considered dropping the word “Negro” but ultimately decided against it, determining that a small segment, mostly older blacks living in the South, still identified with the term. But once census forms were mailed and some black groups protested, Robert Groves, the Census Bureau’s director at the time, apologized and predicted the term would be dropped in future censuses.

When asked to mark their race, Americans are currently given a choice of five government-defined categories in census surveys, including one checkbox selection which is described as “black, African Am., or Negro.” Beginning with the surveys next year, that selection will simply say “black” or “African American.”

In the 2000 census, about 50,000 people specifically wrote in the word Negro when asked how they wished to be identified.
Source: HOPE YEN | Associated Press 

Multiracial Students Left out of New Analysis: The Multiracial Advocacy Blog

The article below shows once again how racist data and statistics are. Who is looking out for the multiracial students? They were not counted. This is just more use of inadequate data, very similar to how our Census Bureau and government agencies overlook multiracial data. Yes, it may be important to know that one in six African-American students were suspended from school compared with one in 20 white students. But data, like people are not just black and white.

 

Researchers Sound Alarm Over Black Student Suspensions

Nearly one in six African-American students was suspended from school during the 2009-10 academic year, more than three times the rate of their white peers, a new analysis of federal education data has found.

That compares with about one in 20 white students, researchers at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, based at the University of California, Los Angeles, conclude. They use data collected from about half of all school districts in the nation for that year by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights.

And for black children with disabilities, the rate was even higher: One in four such students was suspended at least once that year.

In some districts, as many as one out of every two black students was suspended.
“These numbers show clear and consistent racial and ethnic disparities in suspensions across the country,” said John H. Jackson, the president of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, based in Cambridge, Mass., which supports equity in schooling for all students and efforts to improve outcomes for African-American boys. “We are not providing [these students] a fair and substantive opportunity to learn. Any entity not serious about addressing this becomes a co-conspirator in the demise of these children.”
Source: Education Week
Link to full story: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/08/07/01zerotolerance.h32.html?tkn=NWNFAxXnSt8u5bQ%2BZQoz52N447hxgou4YuED&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1