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On the last day to sign up for Obamacare, evidence appears to be mounting that what started as a disaster may turn out a success. Monday is the deadline to enroll in health insurance for 2014 via the health insurance exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and it’s clear that many waited until the last minute. The looming deadline and fear of the penalty for not getting covered has driven millions of people to the exchange websites, enrollment events and health insurance companies over the past few days.
HealthCare.gov and some state-run health insurance exchanges suffered software glitches and buckled under heavy demand Monday.
The final rush could push the total number of private insurance enrollments well past the 6 million figure touted by the Obama administration last week. Obamacare sign-ups may wind up closer to the 7 million originally predicted for the first year. (. . .)
Signing up the healthy and the young is critical to the health of the healthcare law. And based on anecdotal accounts from health insurance companies, the surge is also bringing along young adults in greater numbers.
“We’re definitely seeing some younger consumers, as our average age of an applicant is going down,” said Kurt Kossen, the vice president for retail marketing at Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Online insurance broker eHealth reported a similar trend last week.
In order to make premiums affordable in future years, insurers need healthier people to offset the high medical costs of older, sicker people who now have guaranteed access to coverage. Adults 18 to 34 years old made up one-quarter of nationwide enrollments through March 1, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, a proportion lower than the roughly 40 percent the White House is seeking.
Not everyone is so pleased with their new health plans. Households with incomes above four times the poverty limit, or about $95,400 for a family of four, don’t qualify for financial assistance and can face hundreds of dollars in premiums every month for even basic coverage. And many people who previously purchased their own coverage directly from insurance companies saw their policies canceled last year because they didn’t meet ACA standards, and had to replace them with plans that are often costlier because the mandated benefits are more generous. (. . .)
HealthCare.gov also drew record demand Monday when 1.2 million users visited the website by noon Eastern Time. First-time users of the website weren’t able to create accounts for about an hour Monday afternoon and administrators twice activated the site’s “virtual waiting room” when the number of people trying to log in surpassed its capacity, which is estimated at 100,000 users at once. State-run exchange websites in places like California and Maryland also experienced some difficulties. Telephone call centers for the exchanges were swamped by consumers seeking help, as well.
Although Monday is the nominal deadline for anyone who doesn’t have health coverage to get insured this year, enrollments will continue through the coming weeks, since the Obama administration and most state-run health insurance exchanges are leaving the systems open for those who already started their applications but have not completed them by the end of the day. (. . .)
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A recent study has found that a complex racial history and a lack of programs encouraging diversity have helped New York schools claim the title as the most segregated in the nation.
New York state’s public school system is the most segregated in the country because most of the state’s schools have virtually no white students. The majority of the state’s school population is African American and Latino, adding to the growing concern that connects educational problems with lack of diversity. The schools are often poverty-concentrated and include a less-experienced and less-qualified teacher workforce, according to a report released from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project.
The report from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project studied enrollment trends from 1989 to 2010 and found that almost 30 percent of the state’s schools had fewer than 10 percent white students. And in 11 percent of the schools, fewer than 1 in 100 students are white.
According to the study, these numbers are driven by several factors, including New York City’s complex racial history of segregation and the influx of charter schools, which some call “apartheid schools.” According to the study, more than half of the city’s 32 community school districts are “intensely segregated,” and a majority of charter schools boost shockingly low numbers, as fewer than 1 percent of the student’s population is white.
Read more about this study’s methods and conclusions here.
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Members of BYP100, a black youth activist organization, have a dialogue with a black police officer after being profiled on Princeton University’s campus, where they had convened for a conference.
Watch the dialogue here:
To learn more about the Black Youth Project100, click here.
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It is Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, dubbed the “godmother of the civil rights movement,” as President Barack Obama aptly put it when mourning her passing four years ago.
Although a major contributor in the movement, the iconic Height is often left out when Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and other greats are mentioned. So it was pleasant, and only fitting, that Google presented the world with a beautiful doodle on what would’ve been her 102nd birthday, March 24.
Height is credited with convincing President Dwight Eisenhower to desegregate schools. She was one of the driving forces behind President Lyndon Johnson’s appointments of black women to government, and she walked in lockstep with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to spotlight women’s rights. She even shared the platform with Dr. King when he delivered his unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech.
For her work she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, followed by the Congressional Gold Medal ten years later.
In 2010, the nation lost Height at the age of 98. She was one of the greatest black women leaders ever to have graced us with her presence. Her memory and all she fought for should be far from forgotten, as Google reminds us today.
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Note: Staff of the Wisconsin Humanities Council (WHC) asked ABHM’s Virtual Museum Director to blog about her personal reactions to the Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation that honored the museum’s founder, Dr. James Cameron, in February 2014. WHC funded the Gathering.
(…) As I looked around the room at the discussions taking place, my heart soared. I experienced a sense of hope for our hyper-segregated city such as I have seldom felt. I was not alone in that feeling. In their evaluations of the event, participants expressed their fervent desire to continue and deepen this dialogue. ABHM is now conducting monthly conversations around the city.This is work that brings me special satisfaction and joy.
In 1971-72 I was a graduate social work student, specializing in community organizing, at the University of Michigan. My field work placement (internship) was with New Detroit, a large, black-led organization that arose to revive the city following the uprisings there. I was assigned to the Speakers Bureau, which conducted anti-racism training and organizing for whites and other non-blacks. As a Jew and a fluent Spanish-speaker, I was asked to reach out to the Jewish and Latino communities.
It was a challenging, uphill struggle, but I loved the work. I had experienced the ways that racism distorts the psyches and lives of both victim and victimizer while growing up Jewish in a small Indiana town, and while living and working in the South with migrant farmworkers. At an early age I had already come to believe that racial/ethnic hatred and power struggles are a principal cause of suffering in the US and around the world – and I determined to do something to change that.(…)
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Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin.
(…) As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine. I didn’t want to become the “black” representative, or some shining example of diversity. What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me.
Books did not become my enemies. They were more like friends with whom I no longer felt comfortable. I stopped reading. I stopped going to school. On my 17th birthday, I joined the Army. In retrospect I see that I had lost the potential person I would become — an odd idea that I could not have articulated at the time, but that seems so clear today. (…)
Then I read a story by James Baldwin: “Sonny’s Blues.” I didn’t love the story, but I was lifted by it, for it took place in Harlem, and it was a story concerned with black people like those I knew. By humanizing the people who were like me, Baldwin’s story also humanized me. The story gave me a permission that I didn’t know I needed, the permission to write about my own landscape, my own map.(…)
TODAY I am a writer, but I also see myself as something of a landscape artist. I paint pictures of scenes for inner-city youth that are familiar, and I people the scenes with brothers and aunts and friends they all have met.
Thousands of young people have come to me saying that they love my books for some reason or the other, but I strongly suspect that what they have found in my pages is the same thing I found in “Sonny’s Blues.” They have been struck by the recognition of themselves in the story, a validation of their existence as human beings, an acknowledgment of their value by someone who understands who they are. It is the shock of recognition at its highest level.
Read the full article here.
Read the companion article, The Apartheid of Children’s Literature, by Christopher Myers.
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SINCE the early 1970s, studies have shown that black Americans have a higher death rate from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. This is especially true when it comes to breast cancer. A study published last week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology found that, in a survey of 41 of America’s largest cities, black women with breast cancer are on average 40 percent more likely to die than their white counterparts.
The principal reason for this disparity is the disconnect between the nation’s discovery and delivery enterprises — between what we know and what we do about sick Americans.(…)
The reasons for black and white differences in breast cancer outcomes are complex. Although the incidence of the disease is higher among white women, black women are more likely to die from it. Young black women tend to develop a particularly aggressive form, which no doubt contributes to the disparity. But for many years, the dominant cause of higher mortality has been late-stage disease at the time of initial treatment, in part as a result of black women being less likely to undergo mammography.
However, this gap has been closed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the rate of mammography is now the same in black and white women. What remains different is what happens after the mammogram: Black women experience significant delays in diagnosis and treatment. According to the C.D.C., even when they have similar insurance coverage, 20 percent of black women with an abnormal mammogram wait more than 60 days for a diagnosis, compared with 12 percent of white women. And 31 percent of black women wait 30 days to begin treatment, compared with 18 percent of white women.
The Institute of Medicine reported in 2003 that black Americans with health insurance similar to that of white Americans are, at times, less likely to be recommended by physicians to receive curative cancer care. I don’t think this is because doctors are racist, but rather that they make assumptions about race that can be harmful. For example, a specialist treating a poor black woman may doubt that she will comply with a complex treatment and recommend a simpler, but noncurative, therapy instead.
The good news is that studies show that black and white women who receive the same breast cancer treatment at the same stage of the disease are equally likely to survive. If we can eliminate barriers to early diagnosis and quality treatment in black women, we can close the racial mortality gap.
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1. Afghanistan’s first female police chief showed the world what courage looks like.
Col. Jamila Bayaz was appointed to run security in the Kabul’s District 1 in January, becoming the first woman in such a senior frontline role. The mother-of-5 is responsible for policing an area of the Afghan capital that includes the presidential palace, government ministries and the central bank. “This is a chance not just for me, but for the women of Afghanistan,” she told NBC. “I will not waste it. I will prove that we can handle this burden.” ( . . .)
Xiao Meili set off the remarkable journey in late 2013 to walk more than 1,200 miles between her home in China’s capital Beijing and the southern city Guangzhou to raise awareness of sexual abuse in the country. The 24-year-old woman told Time Magazine she hopes the unusual sight of a female backpacker on China’s roads will draw attention to how authorities handle abuse and will break the social stigma victims often face. At each town along the way, Meili and her supporters post letters to local officials urging them to investigate abuse allegations, screen teachers and improve sex education. ( . . .)
3. Azizah Al-Yousef began a campaign to end Saudi Arabia’s oppressive male guardianship system.
Azizah al-Yousif has been a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia’s conservative establishment since she launched the October 26 Women’s Driving Campaign last year. In a bid to end the Kingdom’s ban on female drivers, women posted YouTube clips of themselves driving online. “We are sick and tired of waiting to be given our rights,” al-Yousif told CNN at the time. “It’s about time to take our rights.” ( . . . )
Catherine Samba-Panza, a women’s rights activist and reconciliation advocate who is known in the Central African Republic as “mother courage,” was selected to lead the country in January amid devastating ethnic clashes that forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes. As CAR’s first female president, she pledged to lead the country away from the circle of bloodshed. “At the very heart of the people, I felt this desire to elect a woman who could bring peace and reconciliation,” Samba-Panza said of her presidency, according to The Guardian. She has a formidable task ahead of her. This week the UN warned of “religious cleansing” and immanent danger to civilians trapped amid the fighting, Reuters reported. ( . . .)
5. Ukrainian pop icon Ruslana became a champion of the country’s protest movement.
Ruslana is one of Ukraine’s most famous pop singers and brought the country to victory at the EuroVision song contest in 2004. She is also a passionate social activist, so when protests against President Viktor Yanukovych erupted last November, Ruslana became a nightly fixture on stage at the protest camp in Kiev, according to Newsweek. “A public person, musician or artist should exercise their civic activism to be the voice of the people,” she told the magazine. The Washington Post reported that some of her performances at the EuroMaidan protest hub lasted up to 10 hours. ( . . .)
As vice-president of Tunisia’s constituent assembly, Mehrezia Labidi led the tumultuous debates over the country’s post-Arab Spring constitution. Labidi is the most senior female politician of the ruling Islamist part, Ennahda, and took a firm line for women’s rights throughout the debates, often to the disappointment of her own party. “It’s like giving birth: painful, but in the end everyone is happy when the child arrives,” she told Deutsche Welle. ( . . .)
7. Lena Klimova gave Russian gay teens a voice online.
Just days before the Sochi Winter Olympics opened in February, young journalist Lena Klimova was charged under Russia’s controversial ban on “gay propaganda.” Authorities targeted Klimova because of her incredibly popular “Youth-404” website (404 designating “page not found”) where gay teens write about their struggles with homophobia in the country. ( . . .)
8. Zainab Bangura pushed countries to recognize that sexual violence in conflict has to stop.
As the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Bangura has seen first-hand the devastating effect of rape used as a weapon of war. Bangura, who lived through the 1991-2002 civil war in her native Sierra Leone, told Reuters: “For me, one rape is too many.” ( . . .)
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A little more than six months after “12 Years a Slave” debuted at the Telluride Film Festival, Steve McQueen’s slavery drama has been named Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars.
Based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, “12 Years a Slave” topped “American Hustle,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Gravity,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” for 2014 Best Picture honors. The film received eight other Oscar nominations this year, also winning awards for Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley).
Will Smith presented McQueen’s film, which was also produced by Brad Pitt, with the Best Picture Oscar. Pitt accepted the award before giving way to McQueen, a fellow producer. The 44-year-old made Oscars history by becoming the first black man to win an Oscar in the Best Picture category. (He lost Best Director, however, to Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity.”) McQueen thanked his mother, his children and Pitt. “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the legacy of Solomon Northup,” McQueen said. He dedicated the Oscar to the people who spent their lives suffering in slavery. (. . .)
“12 Years a Slave” had previously won top film honors at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards, and it tied with “Gravity” at the Producers Guild Awards, a frequently reliable predictor for Best Picture. (. . .)
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A wonderful thing happened at the 100th birthday celebration for the founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum — dozens of people from all colors and backgrounds sat at tables to discuss race relations in this city. (…)
Last Sunday, about 150 people gathered at the Milwaukee Public Library to honor Cameron. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and Milwaukee Ald. Milele Coggs told personal stories of Cameron; and Robert Smith, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, explained how Cameron became a civil rights leader.[Editor’s Note: Sharon Morgan and Tom DeWolf, nationally known for their book, Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and the Son of the Slave Trade, spoke of the challenges they faced in their own racial reconciliation journey.] (…)
There is still a lot of pain and emotion that surrounds the hot button topic of race relations in this country.
Let’s face it, we all have opinions and stereotypes that we harbor about those who are different from us, but the worst thing that can happen is when we have a breakdown in talks or we wait until something like the Trayvon Martin case comes to light to talk about how a certain group of people are viewed.
Last Sunday, dozens of people participated in the exercise. The tables were diverse and table captains made sure no one dominated the conversation or interrupted the person talking.
Groups tackled several questions such as: “What might the process of racial repair and reconciliation look like in Milwaukee?” “Why is it difficult for us to have conversations about race?” and “Do we need a safe place to have these conversations?”
The exercise also gave participants the opportunity to sketch out what racial repair looks like with crayons. No one at my table had a hard time with this part of the exercise, and most of us came up with the same conclusion: We are a divided city, and in order for major changes to occur, our neighborhoods, circle of friends and places of employment need to become more diverse.(…)
Theresa, who was at my table, said people just need to start talking to each other. Theresa who is black, moved to Brown Deer in 1983, but she said she still has neighbors who refuse to speak.
“We just have to be more willing to talk to people who are different than us,” she said. “I guess that I should start doing that, too.”
Jenna, who is white, said the topic of race is avoided so much that she is clueless as to how to even start such a conversation.
“I really don’t get it because it’s on everyone’s mind, but we can’t talk about it outside of our friends and people we know and love,” she said. “I’m in school and the conversation is avoided. If it’s not talked about at school, work or in our communities, when can we talk about it?”
Read the full article and view Causey’s video interview with Jan Buchler here.
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