Despite the stubborn persistence of racial disparities in health, there is cause for Black women to celebrate.
“Overall, our life expectancy continues to rise, while teenaged pregnancy rates have dropped dramatically. And most recently, the rate of HIV infection among Black women has fallen tremendously, down over 20 percent in just two years’ time,” says a new report, “Black Women in the United States, 2014: Progress and Challenges,” presented by the Black Women’s Roundtable, a division of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
But not all of the news about Black women is good.
Their homicide rate is more than triple that of White women. Black women are twice as likely as White women to be the victims of violent crime, robbery, and aggravated assault. And Black women are also significantly more likely to be a victim of stranger rape than White women.
The report, issued in the waning days of Women’s History Month, takes a comprehensive inventory of the Black women in America. The 86-page report features white papers on a range of topics, including such as the economy, violence and the justice system, and retirement.
In a section on health, the authors compile all the stark realities of Black womanhood in one place. For example, one in four Black women over 55 years old is diabetic, while four in five are overweight or obese. African American women living in the 12 southeastern states with the highest incidents of stroke are the group most likely to have high blood pressure.
Further, childbirth remains a particularly dark spot for African American women; the maternal mortality rate is three times higher than that of White women, and a baby born to a Black woman is 2.3 times more likely to die than one born to a White woman.
The section on education paints the picture of dogged determination against racial and gender disadvantages.
Among young African American women, the dropout rate is on a decline and high school graduation rates have tripled in 60 years. In the 2009-2010 school year, Black women earned 66 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Black Americans, 71 percent of master’s degrees, and 65 percent of doctorates.
Black women also comprised the majority of the Black demographic across law, medical, and dental schools. And despite being underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math careers, they are closer to their male counterparts in degree attainment and even outpace Black men at the doctoral level.
The major educational challenges lie in childhood, where African American girls have an out-of-school suspension rate six times as high as their White counterparts, starting as early as pre-K. Black children are three times as likely as others to attend a school in which less than 60 percent of teachers are fully licensed and certified, and go on to a high school that doesn’t offer a range of college prep courses.
Source: Black Voice News | Jazelle Hunt