Ignoring Black Women Costs the U.S. Billions, the ‘Traffic to Deportation Pipeline,’ and Prince + Patti LaBelle
Catch up with this week’s racial news roundup.
This week’s collection of race and racism news opens with some startling information about the ways the economy loses out when Black women can’t fulfill their potential. We also highlight some efforts to recognize the untold stories of Black working-class New Yorkers in the 1800s, and the names of enslaved Black ancestors whose names were never properly recorded. We close with something light — a story that brings together two music icons: Patti LaBelle, and Prince.
The high cost of counting Black women out
A new report by financial services company S&P Global has found that obstacles to Black women’s educational attainment cost the U.S $107 billion dollars in economic activity between 1960 and 2019. But that’s not the most stunning figure: “Moreover, if Black women had also been in positions that better matched their education and skill sets, the productivity boost would have added an overall $507 billion to the world’s biggest economy”, the U.S. That’s right, $507,000,000,000. More than half a TRILLION dollars. If you had a nickel for every time a Black woman faced structural racism or microaggressions, was shunted into low-wage work, saddled with debt from for-profit colleges, you — well, you get the picture. There are a lot of astonishing figures in the report itself, but if you want to see a good explanation of how the researchers arrived at these numbers, and how this is relevant to what your local congressional representative is (or isn’t) doing to close the wealth and pay gap, read this article in The 19th.
Is a kidney health algorithm putting Black patients at risk?
Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but more than 35 percent of the people on dialysis. Black folks are four times as likely as Whites to end up with kidney failure. But we are also less likely to get on the list of people eligible for a kidney transplant, and less likely to actually get a kidney. Why? Part of the answer may lie in a mathematical equation that evaluates how sick a patient is and whether their decreased kidney function makes them eligible for a transplant. But that algorithm can make Black people’s kidneys appear healthier than they really are, jeopardizing their ability to get the care they need, explains Kaiser Health News.
The ‘traffic to deportation pipeline’
You may have heard about the “school to prison pipeline” — the structural inequalities and discriminatory policies that result in higher numbers of African American students ending up in juvenile detention or prisons. There’s a similarly troubling pattern for Black and Brown immigrants who are stopped for traffic violations, with minor infractions leading to deportations — even years after the original interaction. Bloomberg News’ CityLab examines one such case, in which a Haitian immigrant and legal U.S. resident was pulled over for speeding and ended up facing deportation nearly two decades later.
The Story of ‘Joseph Moore, Col’d’
I’ve always considered The Tenement Museum on New York City’s Lower East Side one of the city’s most interesting museums: Guests learn about immigration and history through guided tours of restored apartments once occupied by families from Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, China and Puerto Rico in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But Lower Manhattan has long been home to native-born Black families as well, and now The Tenement Museum is making sure their stories are better represented. The change was inspired by a detail a museum educator noticed in an 1869 city directory: the Irish Joseph Moore, a waiter, whose family apartment is featured in the Museum’s tours, lived about a mile away from another waiter named Joseph Moore, who was listed as “Col’d” — “colored.” The museum is now working on an apartment recreation based on the lives of the Black Joseph Moore and his wife, Rachel. It’s slated to open in fall of 2022, but the museum’s “Irish Outsiders” tour will now include the story of both Joseph Moores — how their lives might have intersected, and how each might have been affected by the 1863 Draft Riots, in which White mobs (which included many Irish immigrants and Irish Americans) targeted African American people and institutions.
Unknown but unforgotten
For every ancestor or Black history figure we know, there are so many whose names and stories remain unknown, and sometimes irretrievable. But a public art project and memorial along the Ohio River is setting out to honor the lives of unrecorded African Americans who were enslaved. The (Un)Known Project will feature cast or carved footsteps leading from nearby museums in Louisville, Kentucky, to a spot of the Ohio River overlooking Indiana — a state that would have represented freedom to self-emancipating slaves. Benches will provide visitors with the opportunity to reflect upon those whose names or stories were submerged in or omitted from history.
Patti LaBelle’s Prince story
We’ll close this week’s roundup with a tribute to the memory of the inimitable Prince Rogers Nelson, who was born June 7, 1958. The Root recently tweeted an interview with the equally inimitable Patti LaBelle, in which she shares a story about The Purple One, disco dancing, and dinner rolls. It’s accompanied by an animated re-enactment. It ought to give a nice little lift to your day!