An excellent, enraging, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking long read about why black mothers and babies are dying in America. Highlights:
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.”
…”Poverty on its own had been disproved to explain infant mortality, and a study of more than 1,000 women in New York and Chicago, published in The American Journal of Public Health in 1997, found that black women were less likely to drink and smoke during pregnancy, and that even when they had access to prenatal care, their babies were often born small.”
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…except that “babies born to new immigrants from impoverished West African nations weighed more than their black American-born counterparts and were similar in size to white babies.”
…”For black women, something about growing up in America seems to be bad for your baby’s birth weight.”
…“Even when controlling for income and education, African-American women had the highest allostatic load scores — an algorithmic measurement of stress-associated body chemicals and their cumulative effect on the body’s systems — higher than white women and black men. Writing in The American Journal of Public Health, Geronimus and her colleagues concluded that “persistent racial differences in health may be influenced by the stress of living in a race-conscious society. These effects may be felt particularly by black women because of [the] double jeopardy of gender and racial discrimination.”
On a lighter note: gossip isn’t all bad. Done right, gossip effectively regulates appropriate group behaviors. To do it right:
- There must be shared norms of what counts as appropriate behavior.
- It must be possible to detect transgressions.
- It must be possible to escalate punishment if an offender does not rectify his or her behavior.
Unfortunately, the internet blows up all three. ☹
Since I have a few more gray hairs on my own head than I like to admit, this story got my attention (even though it’s from way back in 2015—it’s recycling around Facebook): Why We Need Older Women in the Workplace. Women over 40 are dramatically underrepresented in the top tiers of organizations. Arguably that’s a loss for wisdom and skills that women build up over the years if you agree that diversity of experience and perspective of all kinds is good for business. And research indicates it is: “According to a 2012 report by Dow Jones, companies with at least one female senior executive are more likely to succeed than companies that have only men at the top. Venture-based start-ups with five or more women onboard are significantly more successful than those without.” And, especially interesting as we think about the pipeline of women in the workforce, eventually making dollar for dollar what their male counterparts make, isn’t it true that “a good workplace is one in which you can look around and see versions of yourself five years from now, or ten.”
And Barbara Clabots, on Sightline’s team of esteemed Daily news editors, has an Earth Day piece on Crosscut that digs into women’s representation in the climate action realm. She asks—not entirely rhetorically—whether we wouldn’t see much deeper and more rapid progress on global warming solutions if women’s energy, leadership, and passion weren’t systemically marginalized even in this otherwise progressive sphere. But there are positive signals of change. As Barbara writes:
This year in the U.S., we have a unique opportunity to move the needle on both gender equality and climate action. In February, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the Women and Climate Change Act of 2018, H.R. 4932. The act will establish a federal working group and develop a strategy to prevent and respond to the effects of climate change on women. In an unprecedented collaboration, the Women and Climate Change Act was endorsed by both Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood. Women’s rights groups and environmental groups are finally beginning to consolidate their power. The challenge is laid out for us.
Some shorties this week:
- a call for managing cities by keeping nonhuman communities in mind;
- more proof that managed grazing lands and commercial timber lands are fundamentally different habitats from grasslands and forests; and
- a depressing analysis by the NY Times.