Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • Challenges and Progress: Black History Month & Affordable Health Care

    Ed note: This is cross posted from the Huffington Post

    We celebrate Black History Month against the backdrop of some tremendous progress, but also some very significant challenges.

    As we join with President Obama in making 2014 a Year of Action, I want to take this opportunity to invite you join in a Google Hangout on Wednesday, February 5 at 3pm to discuss our progress and our challenges as they relate to health and human services in the African American community. I'll be joined by Shavon Arline, the National Health Director for the NAACP, as well as Justin from Tampa, a 28-year-old from Tampa who is getting covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace for only $15 a month.

    -- Click here to see Justin's story.

    -- And click here to sign up or learn more about the hangout.

    Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans like Justin are obtaining quality affordable health care coverage - many for the first time. What's more: 7.3 million African Americans with private insurance now have access to preventive services like cholesterol screenings, mammograms, and flu shots with no out-of-pocket expenses. 4.5 million elderly and disabled African Americans who receive coverage from Medicare have the right to things like an annual wellness visit with a personalized prevention plan. And more than 500,000 young African American adults have gained coverage because the new health care law allows them to stay on their parents' plan until their 26th birthday.

    Yet, we still face shocking - and unacceptable - health disparities. African Americans are 55% more likely to be uninsured than white Americans. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, and 40% more likely to have high blood pressure. And the infant mortality rate among African Americans is more than twice that of non-Hispanic whites.

    "Of all forms of injustice," Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once told the Medical Committee for Human Rights, "injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

    As a country, we pay dearly for these disparities. We pay in the heartbreak of the lives we have lost. And we pay in a loss of opportunity and freedom for so many of our fellow Americans.

    You see, without the opportunity to live a healthy life, there is no opportunity to live the American dream or participate fully in our communities. Without the freedom which comes from having access to quality health care, there is no freedom to reach our full potential in the workforce or watch our kids or grandkids grow up. Without the security of health insurance, there is no economic security for middle-class families, and for so many other families working their way into the middle class.

    Thanks to President Obama's leadership we have very real reasons for optimism that we can do something about these disparities. An estimated 4.2 million uninsured African Americans may be eligible for financial assistance to help pay for the costs of their new coverage on the Marketplace. What's more, if every state were to expand Medicaid, 95 percent of uninsured African Americans would be eligible for assistance with a Marketplace plan, Medicaid, or CHIP.

    I hope you'll join us on Wednesday.

    And, let's work together to answer President Obama's call for every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31. You can shop for plans and enroll online at HealthCare.gov, by phone at 1-800-318-2596, by mail, or directly through an issuer, agent or broker. You can also get in person help at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/

    Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services

  • #AfAmEdChat to Discuss How the State of the Union Affects African-American Communities

    Ed note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Education

    President Obama began the 2014 State of the Union address emphasizing his commitment that all American children have access to a world class education, stating in his first comments, “today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.”

    On Thursday, February 6, 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will be hosting a special #AfAmEdChat on Twitter to discuss what the President’s address means for African-American communities.  The chat will explore the importance of the President’s emphasis on education including high-quality early childhood education, rigorous preparation for college and careers, supporting parents and communities, and recruiting the next generation of great teachers.

    • What:  #AfAmEdChat on what the State of the Union Address means for African-American Communities
    • When: 12-1 pm EST Thursday, February 6, 2014
    • Where:  Follow the Twitter conversation with #AfAmEdChat hashtag and follow@AfAmEducation

    On the first and third Thursday of each month, the Initiative hosts a one-hour #AfAmEdChat to increase awareness of the educational challenges faced by African American students, whether they are in urban, suburban, or rural learning environments. The chats are facilitated by Executive Director, David J. Johns with guest panelists offering expertise on a range of issues and strategies supporting the President’s commitment to Opportunity for All.

    Learn more about the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans by signing up for email updates.

    Khalilah Harris is a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. She is an education program and policy advisor, attorney and a doctoral student at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

  • National African American History Month 2014: Civil Rights in America

    Progress in America has never come easy. Through centuries of struggle and hard-won victories, our country has been shaped by generations of Americans who believed this could be the Nation envisioned in our founding principles —a nation where all are treated equal, and all are free to pursue their dreams. With the leadership and resilience of African Americans, who have tirelessly championed these principles throughout our history, our Union continues to move forward toward a stronger, more just future for all.

    This National African American History Month, as we reflect on “Civil Rights in America,” we celebrate historic achievements and foot soldiers, well-known and unknown, who fought to secure rights long denied. But as we hail our successes as a nation, we also acknowledge that there is more work to be done. We still have more to do to ensure every American has access to the health care they need at a price they can afford. We must keep fighting until every worker knows the stability of a fair wage, every family has access to ladders of opportunity into the middle class, and every young person gets a world-class education to prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs.

    The Obama Administration has made strides in restoring opportunity for all Americans, and throughout the month of February we will highlight healthcare, economic mobility, young men of color and the impact of STEM as creating pathways of success and security for African Americans.

    This week our focus is on the Affordable Care Act. While statistics show that 1 in 5 African Americans are uninsured, the Affordable Care Act provides an opportunity for every American to access affordable healthcare. Organizations like the NAACP and National Urban League along with African American churches have been hosting enrollment sessions from Richmond to Dallas to Los Angeles. Secretary Sebelius will meet with African American leaders on benefits of the Affordable Care Act this week, and to discuss efforts to enroll Americans in coverage before the March 31 enrollment deadline. The week concludes with Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, where we will work to raise awareness about survival stories and highlight the work being done in government, academia, public health medicine, and community outreach to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

    Follow us at www.whitehouse.gov/africanamericans for further updates and blog posts this month, and don't forget to check out the President's Proclamation for African American History Month here.

    Heather Foster is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • A Renewed Call to Action to End Rape and Sexual Assault

    As part of an unprecedented national effort to address alarming rates of sexual assault on college campuses, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum today to establish the “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault." The taskforce will be charged with sharing best practices, and increasing transparency, enforcement, public awareness, and interagency coordination to prevent violence and support survivors. The creation of this Task Force builds upon the President’s 2010 call to action, which urged the federal government to support survivors and aggressively take action against sexual assault.

    The statistics around sexual assault in this country are nothing short of jarring. A report just released by the White House Council on Women and Girls entitled, “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action” reveals that nearly 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes. These statistics are stunning, but still can’t begin to capture the emotional and psychological scars that survivors often carry for life, or the courage needed to recover.

    President Barack Obama signs the Campus Sexual Assault Presidential Memorandum during a White House Council on Women and Girls meeting in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 22, 2014.

    President Barack Obama signs the Campus Sexual Assault Presidential Memorandum during a White House Council on Women and Girls meeting in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    Today’s report states that students experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault. This violence, and the stress, fear, and mental health challenges that often follow, combine to increase dropout rates and limit opportunities for success in college for women and girls. The Administration is committed to investing in women’s education, training, and full inclusion in the workforce, and the President strongly believes that combatting sexual assault is vital to that effort.

  • Remembering Nelson Mandela

    Today in Johannesburg, President Obama joined leaders from the United States and around the world at a national memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela.

    In President Obama’s remarks, he reflected on what Mandela meant to him personally, as well as to the people of South Africa, and urged all of us to remember Madiba’s legacy and contributions to humanity.

    For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection.  With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask:  How well have I applied his lessons in my own life?  It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President. 

  • President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

    This afternoon, from the White House Briefing Room, President Obama delivered a statement on the passing of former South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, calling him "a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice."

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the passing of Nelson Mandela, in the James. S. Brady James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 5, 2013.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela, in the James S. Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    "We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again," the President said. "So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice."

    Read the President's full remarks here.