'Practical World' True News Magazine by American Road Radio

'Practical World' True News Magazine by American Road Radio
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White House to Women and Girls of Color: We Care

White House to Women and Girls of Color: We Care

Responding to criticism it has overlooked the problems of young women of
color, the White House sought Wednesday to promote its work on behalf of young
black and brown women and girls, releasing a formal report and announcing the
creation of a working group that will address “challenges and opportunities for women and girls of

Advocates for women and girls say the administration has left girls behind,
focusing instead on issues facing young black and brown men and boys in the last
year since the White House launched the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, a
widely-praised mentorship program. The Obama Administration argues it has been
focused on women from the start.

“Since day one of his Administration, President Obama has focused on
increasing opportunity for women and girls, as part of his larger focus on
expanding opportunity for each and every American,” Senior Adviser to the
President Valerie Jarrett said in response to critics over the summer, boasting the Lilly
Ledbetter Act and the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls as
major accomplishments on behalf of women that should have had a trickle down
effect on the lives of black and brown women.

But for many young girls within black and brown communities, that aid hasn’t
materialized. According to the White House report, black and Hispanic girls graduate at higher rates
than their male counterparts, but they are still 14.6 and 12.8 percentage
points, respectively, less likely to graduate from high school than their white
peers. They face similar problems with school discipline and violence as young
black and brown boys. They’re also more likely than white girls to get pregnant
at a young age, jeopardizing their educational and financial futures. Black and
Hispanic women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and less than half have
access to paid leave at work.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress, as the Obama administration is
quick to point out. An estimated 12.5 million women of color have benefited from
the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of access to women’s preventative services.
The administration is working directly with Historically Black Colleges and
Universities to develop culturally relevant conversations on campus sexual
assault. And they’re also working within tribal communities to address health
issues specific to Native women, among other policies that cater to women. In
January, the Department of Education will also partner with the White House and
convene on increasing minority girls’ opportunities in science, technology,
engineering and math (STEM).

The impact of the report and the event at the White House on Wednesday is
unclear. The roll out isn’t being met with as much fanfare as the My Brother’s
Keeper Initiative, which garnered support from hundreds of communities and
organizations. Much of the report is dedicated to highlighting existing
administration efforts that address problems facing all women and girls,
including some that have had a particular impact on minority communities, rather
than presenting a call for solutions.

Melanie Campbell, a civil and women’s rights activist who attended the White House
event Wednesday, says its a start. “It’s a positive move to expand the
conversation and start to hone in on where we see disparities,” Campbell

In a June letter, over 1,000 activists, celebrities, educators and community
members led by the African
American Policy Forum
signed an open letter to the White House, urging the
program to be more inclusive. “It makes no sense to equip the canary with a
mentor, a gas mask and or some other individual-level support while leaving the
mine as it is and expecting the females to fend for themselves,” the letter
reads. “If the air is toxic, it is toxic for everyone forced to breathe it.”

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a professor Columbia Law School and a co-founder
of the African American Policy Forum, says it’s a reminder that the issues
facing women and girls are considered “separate and unequal.”

“Separate and unequal is just not sufficient given the level of crises facing
women and girls of color,” says Crenshaw. “I guess giving something is better
than nothing, but this is a far cry from a solution that promotes equity.”
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