This week marked 50 years since the Fair Housing Act became law, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, or disability in housing. In a video created for National Public Radio, reporter Gene Demby examines the legacy of residential segregation by race in the US, the role of government policy in redlining, housing discrimination, and family wealth-building, and the wide repercussions of residential segregation for schools, parks, health, wealth, income, and policing. Demby reports, “It's almost impossible to talk about systemic racism in America and not talk about housing because it sits at the nexus of all of it, right? Discrimination and segregation in housing creates all these drags on black communities. It affects education. Since almost every place in the country pays for schools via property taxes, lower home values in black communities means that black children go to more poorly-funded schools. It affects health outcomes in communities with few grocery stores, little access to open spaces or neighborhoods that are built near factories. We did a story on a study from February that found that the more segregated a state is, the greater the ratio that unarmed black people will be killed by police relative to white people. It affects how we draw political districts, how we get around. We could go on and on. I mean, there's no part of structural racism in America that does not have some expression in housing discrimination or segregation. On Code Switch, our beat is race in America. And that often means our beat is really about housing because housing segregation is in everything.”
Berkeley Media Studies Group posted a new blog on how the media covers police shootings, finding that for approximately one-third of shootings, media outlets surveyed provided no coverage at all. Pamela Mejia writes, “Accurate and complete news coverage is important because we can't mourn victims unless we know about their deaths, and we can't fix a problem we aren't told about. We examined the data on fatal California officer-involved shootings kept by the Washington Post and Killed by Police. These sites collect data from "news reports, public records, social media and other sources," so they may not represent the total number of killings. We found no other databases that track officer-involved shootings across the country, though individual police departments have released data about incidents in their jurisdictions. We cross-referenced each shooting with news from 75 newspapers (and their online equivalents) from around California.* We found 162 officer-involved fatal shootings in California in 2017 and 330 news articles about them. For almost one-third of all shootings, we found no news coverage in the outlets we examined. More than half of the victims of the shootings without news coverage were African American and Latino men (at least 53 percent, though there could be more because there were 11 incidents without coverage where the race of the victim was not indicated in the Washington Post database).”
At Rewire, Dr. Cynthia Greenlee reframes the conversation about race, racism, and risk of maternal death: “We—in health, advocacy, and media—need to stop saying and teaching that being Black is a risk factor for illness and death… Instead, we need to start telling the truth: It’s exposure to racism that is the risk factor… I also recognize that the gendered racism we experience multiplies our risks. Our catecholamines, the hormones that drive humans’ “fight-or-flight” responses, are always being released. It’s all gas—no brakes—for the worry and fear being a Black woman having a Black baby in a place that has vilified both. After all, we live in a country that will use government funds for fake “crisis pregnancy clinics” that provide inaccurate medical information that harms women so that they will stay pregnant. Our legislators and officials go on to make it easy to declare mothers unfit, involve child welfare agencies, and take those same women’s children away. And if you’re Black, it’s a short jump of racist logic to get from “Black” to “unhealthy” and “unfit mother.” Those ideas are embedded in our national DNA… There’s a good way to begin from this moment onward: Let’s list racism as a modifiable risk factor for poor maternal health outcomes. When we can do that, we can work together to dismantle it.”
This week, President Trump signed an executive order, Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility, calling on Cabinet secretaries to scrutinize their social welfare programs and propose stricter regulations for eligibility, such as work requirements, cut funding, and give states more flexibility to administer these programs. Programs that may be affected include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, and low-income housing subsidies, among many other programs that support low-income people. In an interview with Vox, James Ziliak, director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Poverty Research, cited strong evidence that SNAP reduces hunger and improves health, and that work requirements have little effect on reducing poverty.
This week marked Equal Pay Day, the average date into the new year that a woman must work to earn the same as a man earned the previous year. The National Women’s Law Center complicates this picture by breaking down women’s wages and true “equal pay” days by race/ethnicity. For every dollar made by the average man, white women earn an average of 79 cents per dollar (making white women’s Equal Pay Day April 17), Black women earn 63 cents (Equal Pay Day for Black women would be August 7), Native women earn 57 cents per dollar (Equal Pay Day September 7), and Latina women earn 54 cents (Equal Pay Day for Latina women would be November 1). Asian-American women on average earn more than their peers (87 cents per dollar, Equal Pay Day February 22), but this masks wide disparities across Asian ethnic groups.
While overall, health improved and the death rate decreased in the US from 1990 to 2016, the rate of deaths among people ages 20-55 increased in 19 US states, according to a comprehensive study published in JAMA. The 2016 Global Burden of Disease study examined causes and risk factors of disease, deaths, and disability from 1990 to 2016. An accompanying editorial notes that significant contributors to the increasing death rate in the 20-55 age group include “substance use disorders, cirrhosis, self-harm (conditions sometimes termed diseases of despair), and chronic kidney disease.” The study also found notable differences in burdens of disease, death, and disability among states. For example, life expectancy at birth ranged from 74.7 years in Mississippi to 81.3 years in Hawaii.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of students at a small Native American school in the Grand Canyon makes the case that students who have experienced trauma as a result of systemic factors, such as racism and lack of economic opportunity in their community may experience health consequences that warrant mental health and wellness supports at school, EdSource reports. At the center of the lawsuit is the 70-student Havasupai Elementary School located on the floor of the Grand Canyon. The lawsuit alleges that the Bureau of Indian Education and other federal agencies have not provided appropriate supports for the students as required under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which provides for educational and mental health supports to help ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn. EdSource reports that U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan recently denied the federal government’s request to dismiss the case, stating in his ruling that the plaintiffs “have adequately alleged that complex trauma and adversity can result in physiological effects constituting a physical impairment.” The article notes that settlement talks are underway in a class action suit that similarly considers the effects of historical and intergenerational trauma on students’ ability to learn in urban Compton, California.
Ford UK has launched an “elephant in the room” campaign focused on encouraging young men to take advantage of the conversations that bubble up while driving to support their mental health, the Evening Standard reports. The campaign launched in partnership with the mental health initiative Time to Change is one of a number of recent efforts to address the silence and stigma that historically have surrounded conversations related to mental health, particularly among men.