The Women of Color ‘Solutionaries’ Who Are Taking On Detroit’s Deep Divisions

“Nobody asked us if we wanted a new hockey stadium in the middle of the city,” said community activist Sajeda Ahmed, in an interview for a new report on the role of women of color on the future of Detroit. “Nobody asked our opinion, and we’re the ones who have to live around it and deal with everything that comes along with it.”

It’s hardly surprising that Ahmed, a Bangladeshi-American woman, isn’t much of a Red Wings fan. White men completely dominate hockey. As a community activist in a city ravaged by poverty and joblessness, she can think of many needs more pressing than an ice rink.

So who exactly was behind the new Detroit hockey arena that opened last month? That would be Mike Ilitch, the billionaire owner of the Red Wings and Little Caesars Pizza. Although he died in February of this year, Ilitch is credited with selling the arena plan to local officials and obtaining about $ 324 million in public subsidies for the project.

This is only one example of billionaire-driven development in Detroit. Dan Gilbert, who made a fortune as the founder of Quicken Loans, now runs a venture capital company that has bought more than 90 buildings in Detroit’s urban core – enough to earn the area the nickname “Gilbertville.”

Asked how she would handle Detroit’s re-development efforts, Ahmed said, “Definitely the first thing I’d do is make sure that women’s voices are heard. That’s something that we have not seen so far in this revitalization. It’s been big businessmen and policymakers making all these decisions.”

The importance of giving women of color a seat at the table is a major theme of “I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future,” a new Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) report based on in-depth interviews, focus groups, and surveys with Black, Latina, Arab, and Asian women across the city.

Women of color make up 47 percent of Detroit’s population and yet more than 70 percent of those that participated in an IPS survey said they do not feel included in city’s economic development plans.

Linda Campbell, one of the 20 women of color profiled in the report, has played a leadership role in several coalition efforts to steer economic resources towards low-income residents. She’s contributed to efforts to increase the local minimum wage, ensure access to affordable housing, and leverage public investments in economic development for jobs and education.


Detroit’s Revival Can’t Happen Without Women of Color

Detroit is full of what the late, legendary Detroit civil rights activist, Grace Lee Boggs, called solutionaries— women who have a revolutionary fervor for solving the city’s deep-rooted, chronic problems that threaten true, long-lasting revival of the city. The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies spent a year surveying 500 women of color solutionairies through focus groups and a citywide survey in response to their near absence from the story about Detroit’s comeback. What we found is relayed in our new report, “I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future.”

Solutionary women of color across the city work tirelessly to address problems like the fact that 33 percent of African-American and Latino boys do not graduate from high school. They support families caught in the crisis caused by the water department shutting off 30,000 delinquent residential accounts in 2016. And they help Detroiters who want to work, but are challenged by the fact that only 16 percent of the region’s jobs are within city limits and regional transportation is limited.

Detroit’s solutionaries are anchors within their communities; architects who build badly needed infrastructure that meet basic human needs; entrepreneurs who create jobs for people that the labor market overlooks; and advocates who represent the interests of those at the margins, as elected officials and leaders of community-based organizations. Most of the realities they confront are inextricably linked to poverty, a condition plaguing 40 percent of Detroiters, including a whopping 57 percent of the city’s children.

Read the full article in the Detroit News.


For Women of Color, the ‘Healthcare Gap’ is Real and Deadly


(Photo: Flickr / LaDawna Howard)

International Women’s Day, observed each year on March 8, is supposed to be about celebrating the achievements of women worldwide.

But some of the stories that connect us aren’t a cause for celebration. For example, African-American women share a similar fate as women in India, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa — death by cervical cancer.

A recent study found that women of color in America die from cervical cancer at more than twice the rate of white women in America. In fact, they’re dying at rates comparable to those in much poorer developing countries.

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. So why is this happening?

Part of the problem is that access to that preventative care — regular check-ups at the gynecologist, Pap smears, HPV vaccines — is deeply unequal between white women and women of color, creating a stark racial gap in cervical cancer deaths. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 37 percent of Hispanic women and a third of of black women lacked health coverage in 2013 — compared with just 12 percent of white women.

Similar disparities haunt maternal and newborn care. In the United States, black infants die at twice the rate of white infants — a contrast that’s even starker in our nation’s poorest cities. In majority-black Ward 8, D.C.’s poorest neighborhood, the infant mortality rate is a devastating 10 times higher than in the city’s mostly white Ward 3.

And then, sadly, there’s breast cancer. Almost all of us know someone who is fighting or has fought breast cancer. Here again the lack of available quality cancer screenings has resulted in an increased likelihood of death from the disease for black women by no small margin — 40 percent higher when compared to whites.

The story is repeated across all of the top health threats for women: heart disease, stroke, diabetes — the list goes on, and the deaths pile up.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to help narrow these gaps by providing coverage to more people and offering incentives for preventative and primary care providers to reduce such disparities. It identifies preventative care as one of the 10 “essential health benefit” provisions that were designed to level out access.

In 2014, nearly 9 million people gained health insurance through the ACA. According to a study by the Center for Global Policy Solutions, all major racial and ethnic groups reduced their uninsured rate at almost double the rate of white Americans. The gap between Asian American women and white women all but disappeared, the gap between white and black children was eliminated, and the gap between white women and black women decreased by over 25 percent.

In states that didn’t adopt the Medicaid expansion policies in the ACA — mostly GOP-led states in the Southeast — people of color were disproportionately affected. If more red states would’ve adopted ObamaCare, we would’ve been closer to wiping out the racial healthcare gap altogether.

But with Republicans hell-bent on repealing the ACA, now even the modest strides made in increasing healthcare accessibility are in jeopardy.

Marshall Chin, a physician and healthcare ethics professor told “The Atlantic” in 2014, “We actually know a lot about how to reduce disparities. At this point it’s basically about having the national will to make reducing disparities a priority.”

But the GOP and the Trump administration have made it clear that reducing these disparities is not their priority. Their proposed replacement will cover fewer people than are covered under the current healthcare law. Many focus on limiting coverage to “catastrophic” plans, which by nature cannot be preventative.

Millions of Americans of all stripes will lose out if this haphazard effort goes forward. And it’s black women and children who will suffer the most as they, in addition to women around the world, feel the brunt of an assault on their right to live.

Domenica Ghanem is the media manager at the Institute for Policy Studies.


For Working Women, Equity Unlocks Happiness


(Photo: Pixabay)

My first job as a teenager was running the cash register at a strip mall pizza franchise in suburban Florida. My $ 5 an hour was essential income for our poor family, even though it required me to learn new survival skills — like fending off aggressive co-workers and handsy patrons.

Turns out I wasn’t alone in that.

Women-led labor organizations report that sexual harassment, wage theft, intimidation and even labor trafficking are distressingly common for low-wage women workers still today. Even when the situation doesn’t rise to the level of outright abuse, the gender pay gap persists across all kinds of professions — from tax preparers to property managers and retail workers.

Two decades after my pizza parlor job, I’m helping to run a nonprofit focused on inequality in America. I’m the second in command at my workplace, so I don’t have to think as often about equal pay or advancement as I used to.

But I wear the scars of how I got here, which began in my childhood watching my mother. She worked long hours as a secretary, plus weekend shifts at a bar just to pay the rent. I’m sure she would have given a kidney for work/life balance, if only she’d had better health insurance.

Read the full article on InsideSources.


The post For Working Women, Equity Unlocks Happiness appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Tiffany Williams is the associate director at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Beyoncé sweatshop controversy shines spotlight on harsh conditions of working women – People’s World

Beyoncé sweatshop controversy shines spotlight on harsh conditions of working women
People’s World
In a mission statement for the clothing line, (that is a joint venture with the popular UK clothing store Topshop), Beyoncé explained that her goal with Ivy Park was to, "push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who

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Honoring Harriet Tubman and Other Historic Women – WNYC

Honoring Harriet Tubman and Other Historic Women
Tourists and invited guests alike not only stained the settees with dirty shoes and ruined the rugs with tobacco juice, they actually carved up the carpets and curtains, cutting out large swaths of fabric as souvenirs. … Newspapers covered the

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Seeing Women Farmers Oppressed by Unequal Rules, You ‘Want to Do Something About It’ – World Bank Group

World Bank Group
Seeing Women Farmers Oppressed by Unequal Rules, You 'Want to Do Something About It'
World Bank Group
The World Bank's Gender in Agriculture team is working to change that. In time for International Women's Day, Agricultural Gender Specialist Sanna-Liisa Taivalmaa talks about how and why the Bank is helping women farmers get a leg up. 1. How are you …

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Meet Petee Talley: A Trailblazer for Black Women in Labor


Pierrette Talley, affectionately referred to as “Petee” by those around her, is not a morning person.

She’s similar to so many of us in that way. There are days where we dread waking up, so we plead for the sun to go back down, if only for a few more moments of sleep. But for Petee, her disgruntled feelings in the morning are soon replaced by a deep seated passion stemming from her commitment to justice.

As the morning news rolls in, she often sees a politician viciously attacking unions, or putting workers’ rights placing in their crosshairs. Or tragically, another unarmed black child, man, or woman is gunned down in the streets.

From that moment on, there is no question about what needs to be done – she’s all in. “There’s dragons to slay,” she tells me “We are fighting very powerful interests. We have to fight harder than the other side.”

For Talley, the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO Ohio and the highest ranking black woman in that organization’s history, no challenge is too great for unions to overcome.

As a black woman who put herself through college after a rewarding 10-year career with AFSCME, she knows unions can be bastions of opportunity for career advancement. But, she notes, although black women participate in unions at high rates, they’re underrepresented in terms of leadership positions. Her success in leadership is an exception rather than a rule.

However, the moment to change this has presented itself, she says.

The growing awareness of black women’s commitment to union activity has created an opportunity for them to demonstrate their extensive capabilities and dedication. For Talley, this allowed her to advance from secretary to community organizer. It’s put her career on an upward trajectory that’s led her to the second-in-command position at the AFL-CIO Ohio.

One cannot overstate the mutually beneficial relationship between black women and unions. Unionized employers have historically provided black workers with higher wages and benefits than non-unionized employers. For this reason, black workers cannot afford to lose out on organized labor. “Black workers in particular have found it very difficult to participate in this economy,” she explains. “No [non-union] employers were paying sustainable wages to any worker without unions.”

The black middle class could not and would not exist without unions. Conversely, the dynamism and security of the American middle class is only bolstered by the existence of a robust black middle class. These are important virtues that must be the focal point of today’s conversations surrounding labor, as unions brave relentless political assaults.

Most notably, the Supreme Court case Frederich vs. the California Teacher Association threatens to upend labor as we know it. It seeks to allow non-union members in unionized workplaces — people who benefit directly from the efforts and activities of organized labor — to abdicate their financial responsibility of paying dues, threatening organized labor’s financial solvency.

“We as a movement have operated on a concept that everybody has to pay their fair share of the benefit they receive from labor. Frederich is designed to interrupt that concept,” she says. “The movement as a whole would have to spend much more of their resources being a union rather than doing the work a union should.”

Nobody knows how the highest court in the land will rule, given the recent passing of Justice Scalia. But with forward thinking leaders like Petee Talley, labor will be well-prepared to weather any storm.

Talley constantly reinforces the ideas of togetherness and personal investment, even in the face of political hazards. She believes that all union members must be of the mentality that they have skin in the game — and political participation, whether at the polls or knocking on doors, is an obligation each member must share.

Organized labor and its many members have an essential role to play in protecting the economic rights of the many against the few. Unions have a long history of tirelessly advocating for higher wages, better working conditions, fair hours, and a healthy lifestyle. Talley recognizes that the only way to secure a prosperous future is through the political engagement that unions encourage, which in turn allows our democracy to thrive.

Petee Talley is adamant in her work for economic justice. And more importantly, she’s a pivotal role model of the excellence black women can achieve when given the opportunity to lead. She embodies the spirit of which unions are founded on — the same spirit that built this country’s middle class.

Petee Talley was interviewed as part of the And Still I Rise series. A project of the Institute for Policy Studies, ASIR lifts up the work of black women leading the labor movement.


The post Meet Petee Talley: A Trailblazer for Black Women in Labor appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Marc Priester is a Changemaker Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Local heroes: Unsung women of Africa – BBC News

BBC News
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BBC News
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Hedley Discusses Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women, And Child Labour (Yes … – Huffington Post Canada

Huffington Post Canada
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Huffington Post Canada
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