Maia Chaka Is The 1st Black Woman To Officiate An NFL Game

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Line judge Maia Chaka signals during the game between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 12 in Charlotte, N.C. Chaka made history as the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game.

By Dana Farrington NPR

Maia Chaka has made history as the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game.

She said ahead of Sunday’s game between the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers that it would be a proud moment.

“This historic moment to me is an honor and it’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America, proving that I can defy the odds and overcome,” Chaka said in a video released by the NFL.

She said she hopes she can inspire and empower others “to step outside the box and to do something different.” Chaka is the second woman hired as a full-time NFL official. The first was Sarah Thomas, who refereed the Super Bowl this year.

The NFL hired its first Black official, Burl Toler, in 1965.

When the announcement came in March that she would be added to the NFL officiating roster, Chaka said she was personally honored.

“But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment,” she said. “It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

Chaka has made a career officiating college football and is a health and physical education teacher in Virginia Beach public schools. She joined the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014.

The Undefeated reports that Chaka has the words “hustle, grind, conquer, dominate” on a wall in her office, and that her first dream as a kid was actually to be the first woman in the NBA.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

TRAVIS SCOTT DONATES $1 MILLION TO BLACK COLLEGE STUDENTS … To Ensure They Graduate

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Travis Scott Forbes Fortnite Concert

By TMZ

Travis Scott is making sure hundreds of Black college students walk across the commencement stage with their diploma … with a seven-figure donation.

The rapper awarded $1 million in scholarships to 100 students at HBCUs who are on track to graduate in the Class of 2022 … ensuring they cross the finish line and aren’t affected by last-minute financial hurdles.

The soon-to-be grads are each getting a $10,000 scholarship from Travis’ previously-established Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund … and the recipients finished their final semester with at least a 3.5 GPA.

Among the scholars … Florida A&M University pharmacy major Nisha Encarnacion, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands and paid her own way through college while supporting her mother and daughter, Fisk University computer science major Chisom Okwor, whose goal is to help transform developing countries in Africa, and North Carolina Central University broadcast journalism major Jordan Massey, who took on a ton of debt to get his communications degree.

Travis’ sister, Jordan Webster, manages the scholarship fund … and she recently graduated as well, with a degree from Howard University.

Travis’ donations went to seniors at 38 HBCUs … including Alabama A&M University, Central State University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Texas Southern University, Grambling State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Prairie View A&M University.

The $1 million worth of scholarships is part of Travis’ Project HEAL, which as we first reported, was announced back in March and included $5 million in earmarks.

Remember … Project HEAL was one of Travis’ first public philanthropic since the tragic Astroworld concert last November, which saw 10 people die as a result of injuries sustained during Travis’ set.

Click here to read the full article on TMZ.

Dr. Dre helps break ground on new Compton High School performing arts center

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Dr. Dre

By ABC 7

A performing arts center at Compton High School that’s being built with the help of music mogul Dr. Dre is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Compton native – who donated $10 million to the project – joined city and school leaders for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the first step in getting the center up and running.

The facility will include a 1,200-seat theater and will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.

“When I was approached about funding a performing arts center that would provide an arts and technological education to students and be accessible for the community at large, I was all in,” said Dr. Dre. “I wanted to give the young people of Compton something I never had.”

Dr. Dre – born Andre Young – grew up in Compton and first rose to fame as a member of NWA, whose debut album was titled “Straight Outta Compton.”

He later found success as a solo artist, producer and businessman.

The performing arts center will be the first new high school facility to be built in almost a decade in the greater Los Angeles area.

Compton High School is more than 100 years old.

“This is very historical for Compton,” said Compton Unified School District Board President Micah Ali.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7.

Nike releases ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ shoe to honor Gianna Bryant on her birthday

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Nike has released a special edition pair of sneakers to honor Gianna Bryant's legacy.

By Zoe Sottile, CNN

Nike has released a special pair of “Mambacita Sweet 16” shoes to honor Gianna “Gigi” Bryant on what would have been her 16th birthday.

“I’m so happy with the way these Mambacita shoes came out in honor of my daughter, Gigi,” wrote Vanessa Bryant on Instagram. The shoes feature a black snakeskin pattern to represent “Gigi’s Mambacita Mentality.”
“The ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ is inspired by her resilient spirit and the love she had, not only for the game, but for her family, friends and community,” said Bryant in a note posted to her Instagram. “Part of her legacy is about building a better future for all girls and women in sport, one step at a time.”

Gianna and her father, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Like her father, Gianna was also a talented basketball player and aspired to play in the WNBA. Earlier this year, Bryant announced that she had reached a deal with Nike to create apparel to honor the late basketball player, nicknamed the “Black Mamba.”

“The Kobe 6 Protro ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ honors the legacy that Kobe and Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant built,” wrote Nike in a statement announcing the release. “One that propelled all generations to continue their quest to be better, for themselves and for the game that unites us all.”
Proceeds from the shoes will go towards the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring Kobe’s and Gianna’s legacies by supporting underserved athletes, according to Nike.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

How Black Men Changed the World

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Two black men, one father and one son.

By THE SMITHSONIAN

Too often Black men are seen as threatening. Over the generations, whether they are boys like Emmett Till, Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin, or adults like Philando Castille, Eric Garner or George Floyd, or the thousands of victims of lynching in the 19th and 20th centuries, their deaths were made to seem justified by a fear based solely on their race. Only on rare occasions is someone held accountable. It’s even evident with the recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery, killed by three men while he was out for a run, that the “lynching” of Black men is still happening today.

The Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “Men of Change: Power, Triumph, Truth,” now on view at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, delivers a world of ideas about who Black men actually are and works to dismantle myths. The show supports the diversity of Black male identities in their capacity as role models, and amplifies the many positive ways their work and endeavors impact the Black community and the world.

Unfortunate, as it is, that there is a need for such an exhibition, Marquette Folley, who is content director for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, hopes the show is not only affirming for Black men, but that the messaging is potent enough to shift the cultural experience for all visitors. “Hard dialogues are occurring in the galleries,” she says.

Kendrick Lamar by Derrick Adams
Figure in the Urban Landscape #25 (portrait of Kendrick Lamar) by Derrick Adams, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist
Muhammad Ali by David Alekhuogie
Know Your Right [Muhammad Ali] by David Alekhuogie, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Powerful personalities like Kendrick Lamar, Muhammad Ali and James Baldwin are featured because their work in music, sports and literature, appeals to a larger audience and is very much concerned with how their struggles and undertakings impact freedom and rights for all Americans, but especially African Americans.

“We’re reckoning, looking at a broad landscape of what is human, which humans are worth looking at, and noting excellence without stereotyping what that excellence looks like,” Folley says.

While there are countless Black men in our world impacting many sectors and industries, the men were especially chosen, not solely because of their achievements, but because they made conscious decisions to help the world and uplift us all, and there is no one right way to do that.

The larger society from diverse backgrounds can also witness the variety of Black male identities possible. As our country becomes more diverse every day, the stories that we tell ourselves about strangers we live with have an impact on the collective. An exhibition such as this one is a chance for people unfamiliar with the history of the United States to educate themselves and their families about pivotal members of our society—Black men.

“It’s an affirmation of truth for African Americans. There is not one African American who doesn’t recognize a reality that was interesting and remains interesting within the exhibition, it is that those truths remain almost fairy tale to people who are not raised Black in America. And so there was the moment for culture’s storytellers to ask, can we effectively start changing the dialog,” Folley says.

Dick Gregory by Shaunte Gates
Light Side Dark Side [Dick Gregory] by Shaunte Gates, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Though this exhibition features just a few of the countless people who have impacted the world, the lightbox displays interspersed throughout the galleries includes the names, images, quotes and writing of Black men and some women.

“It’s not a story necessarily for African Americans. It’s a story for Americans,” Folley says.

Sarah Nelson Jackson and Jonathan Jackson, the founders of WeShouldDoItAll, a contemporary design studio in Brooklyn, New York, were enlisted to aid with the exhibition. In addition to the lightboxes that house photographic images and text, they suggested that the exhibition include artworks by Black visual artists in dialogue with the Black male personalities featured in the exhibition.

Each artist interpreted the assignment of creating an artwork about Black men differently. The artwork about the award-winning journalist and author, Ta-Nahesi Coates, was created by the New York-based artist Robert Pruitt, known for his figurative drawings. The image of a woman with a map depicting redlining on her head is based on the critically acclaimed article, “The Case for Reparations” that Coates wrote for The Atlantic in 2014.

Ta-Nehisi Coats by Robert Pruitt
Monumental [Ta-Nehisi Coates] by Robert Pruitt, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist and Koplin Del Rio, Seattle, Adam Reich Photography

These are not traditional portraits. An artwork about the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright August Wilson by Radcliffe Bailey is an assemblage of disparate items of locusts, dirt and a book.

Ryan Coogler is a global phenomenon. The writer and director of the film Black Panther created another world, one where for the first time, Black people were central to its narrative. His portrait created by the Atlanta-based artist Alfred Conteh is painted with the artist’s signature style of destressed colorful figures against a patterned backdrop. In this instance, Conteh is not painting Black people he identified on Atlanta streets to represent economic disparity, he’s painting one of the most influential filmmakers of today.

Kehinde Wiley, the artist who did Barack Obama’s official presidential portrait, uses visual art to explode representation of the Black image into largely white spaces. Wiley has been painting portraits of everyday Black men and women from cities around the world including, Harlem, South Central LA, Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, and positions their bodies in a manner similar to that of the Old Masters. In this way, he makes the claim on the worth and importance of the Black body.

Now Wiley is himself the subject of a portrait painted by Devan Shimoyama whose signature style of bright colors, bejeweled with rhinestones and sequins and other mixed media, speaks to queerness in the Black community and challenges the myths surrounding Black masculinity.

Andrew Young, who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, U.S. Congressman from Georgia, U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations, and 55th Mayor of Atlanta. His portrait, angular with a cartoonish feel, was created by Nina Chanel Abney as if in juxtaposition of the gravity and seriousness of Young’s accomplishments. But she is employing symbols to represent the many aspects of Young’s efforts.

Click here to read the full article on The Smithsonian.

Scholarship Connoisseur Encourages Students to Apply for STEM Scholarships and Internship Opportunities Now

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black female student sideways view smiling carrying books wearing backpack

IOScholarships is the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority and underrepresented STEM students. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find scholarships and internship opportunities.  IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

“Now is the time for students to apply for college scholarships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of  IOScholarships. “While there are many scholarships that have qualifications like a minimum 3.5 GPA, there are just as many that have lower GPA requirements or don’t even take GPA into consideration at all.”

GPA is an important factor for getting scholarships but is not the only thing that’s important. Schools are looking for dedicated students, who contribute to their community or are involved in STEM organizations or activities. They want to see leadership and perseverance, and while these can sort of be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through in extracurriculars.

The majority of the scholarships featured on  IOScholarships come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive university pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it.

Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram social media accounts(@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, the  IOScholarships platform features a scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about  IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

16 Black women who shaped history

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black women have changed history. Photo is of Maya Angelou

One of the best ways to get inspired is to examine the stories of courage and strength of others. As part of Together, We Rise, a 31-day package highlighting amazing Black people, experiences, allies, and communities that shape America and make it what it is today, we’ve compiled a list of Black women who have made historic impacts in our nation and the world as a whole.

The history-making Black women included in this group defied odds, broke boundaries, and left special marks of excellence in their communities, paving the way for other Black women to do the same.

Elizabeth Freeman (unknown-1829)
Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was a nurse and midwife who successfully sued Massachusetts for her freedom in 1781, becoming the first African-American enslaved woman to win a freedom suit in the state. Her suit helped lead to the permanent abolition of slavery in Massachusetts altogether.

Ona Judge (1773-1848)
Ona Judge, known by the Washingtons as Oney, was a mixed woman born into an enslaved family on Mt. Vernon and brought to Philadelphia to serve at the President’s House. On May 21, 1796, a 22-year-old Ona successfully escaped her enslavement to President George Washington while he and Mrs. Washington ate dinner. She fled to New Hampshire.

Harriet Tubman (unknown-1913)
American abolitionist Harriet Tubman is most known for her efforts to move slaves to liberation in the Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery activists. Her legacy is indelible in the movement to abolish slavery, as she is documented to have made approximately 13 trips through the Underground Railroad to lead dozens of slaves to freedom — and never got caught, despite a $40,000 reward for her capture.

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

Ida B. Wells was a prominent Black investigative journalist, educator and activist in the early civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the NAACP (National Assocation for the Advancement of Colored People), and led a powerful anti-lynching crusade in the U.S. in the 1890s.

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks, a trailblazer known for her courageous participation in the Montgomery bus boycott, sparked a movement against racial segregation on public transit. Her defiance to give up her seat led to her arrest on Dec. 1, 1955, but sparked a revolutionary movement. The United States Congress has since honored her as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Maya Angelou has a distinct voice as a Black writer and activist. She left her legacy with a large collection of memoirs, poems, essays and plays. She rose to fame in 1969 after the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” one of her autobiographies that details her early years as a young Black woman.

Nina Simone (1933-2003)
Nina Simone possessed a unique raspy voice and had a massive impact on the jazz community, as well as continued involvement in the civil rights movement. In her early years, she changed her name from Eunice Kathleen Waymon, her birth name, to her new alias, Nina Simone, so she could disguise herself from her family while trying to make a career in jazz as a pianist and singer. She rose to fame and recorded more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
Audre Lorde made incredible contributions to feminist literature. In her writings, she highlights her experience being a Black lesbian woman and confronts issues of racism, homophobia, classism and misogyny, giving voice to other Black female writers and activists.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)
“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin was ranked ninth in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” twice and it’s said that no one understood soul music better than Aretha. She also was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Marsha P. Johnson, born Malcom Michaels Jr., was the first American self-identified drag queen. She was one of the first gay liberation activists and one of the most prominent figures of the Stonewall riots in 1969. When asked what the “p” in her name stood for, she responded, “pay it no mind,” and continued to use that phrase when asked about her gender identity.

Click here to read the full article on Today.

How Jennifer Hudson and ‘Respect’ Could Set a Record for Black Women at the Oscars

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Jennifer Hudson in the movie 'Respect'

By Clayton Davis, Variety

Jennifer Hudson’s name is already written in the Academy Awards history books. At 25, she became the youngest Black woman to ever win an acting Oscar for her turn as Effie White in “Dreamgirls” (2006). She’s also the first to do it for a debut role. Her work in the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” has her contending for two possible Oscar nominations: lead actress and original song, for the track “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home),” co-written by Carole King and Jamie Alexander Hartman. Already a Tony Award away from EGOT status, she could break another record if she lands those two coveted noms.

Hudson would be the first Black woman to be nominated in three individual categories if she snags both nods. Only three Black women have been recognized in two individual categories: Viola Davis, Whoopi Goldberg (actress and supporting actress) and Oprah Winfrey (supporting actress and best picture). For comparison, Warren Beatty and George Clooney have been nominated in six. When it comes to Black men, Spike Lee has been acknowledged in five, winning in adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman” (2018).

Dual noms for Hudson would also mark the third time a Black woman has received multiple nominations in the same year. The first two were Mary J. Blige (nominated for supporting actress and for the song “Mighty River” from “Mudbound”) and Cynthia Erivo (nominated for lead actress and for the song “Stand Up” from “Harriet”). They’re not only the first Black women to achieve this feat, but also the first by anyone in Academy history.

Hudson’s possible recognition isn’t significant merely for herself; a nod in best actress would represent a historical accomplishment for her “Respect” director Liesl Tommy. Tommy would be only the second Black woman to direct a Black leading actor or actress to a nomination (behind Erivo by Lemmons). Noteworthy, when you add Leslie Odom Jr.’s double noms for the song “Speak Now” and supporting actor for his turn in “One Night in Miami” from Regina King last year, the three talents recognized for acting and song, have all been directed by Black women.

Although we see improvements in representation for POC in the Academy, the showing for Black women is among its most notable shortcomings. There have been just over 3,100 Oscar statuettes handed out in 93 years. Of that, only 17 were awarded to Black women. Again, for comparison, one man, Walt Disney, was rewarded with 26 Oscars from 1932 to 1969, nine more than the total number of Black women from 1929 to 2021. Additionally, two Black women have been granted honorary statuettes (Winfrey and Cicely Tyson). Disney himself was given four (even one that had seven miniature Oscars on it for “Snow White”).

Hudson’s turn as the Queen of Soul has many devoted fans among awards groups. However, recency bias and mixed reviews have created significant hurdles for “Respect’s” awards prospects. Opening in mid-August, three weeks before Venice and Telluride, the positive buzz for the movie was swallowed up by premieres of more prominent titles. And with the releases of fellow MGM/United Artists Releasing counterparts “House of Gucci” and “Licorice Pizza,” both of which had better reviews and box office, “Respect” seemed to have become an awards season afterthought.

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

More Black families are homeschooling their children, citing the pandemic and racism

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Yalonda Chandler homeschools her children, Madison and Matthew. She co-founded Black Homeschoolers of Birmingham, in Alabama, and has seen the organization grow since the pandemic began.

By Kyra Miles, NPR

It’s a common perception that white, evangelical families are the most likely to homeschool their children. But a growing number of Black families have started teaching their kids at home — especially during the pandemic. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey found that in April 2020, 3% of Black households homeschooled their children, and by October 2020 it was up to 16%.

Those numbers may not be completely accurate, the Bureau noted, because a lot of children were learning at home in 2020. So part way through the survey period, the homeschooling question was expdanded to clarify that homeschoolers did not include children enrolled in public or private school. Even so, the numbers signal a significant increase.

Joyce Burges, founder of National Black Home Educators, said that since 2020, thousands of families have joined her organization.

“I think you’re going to see more and more parents, Black parents, homeschooling their children like never before,” Burges said.

“COVID was the catalyst”
Didakeje Griffin in Birmingham, Ala., is one of them. When she and her husband realized their kids wouldn’t be going back to public school in March 2020, they knew they had to make a change.

“It was like a light bulb moment,” Griffin said. “Ultimately, what I realized is that the pandemic just gave us an opportunity to do what we needed to do anyway, which is homeschooling.”

The mother of two said she’d always coached her kids at home to keep them on track. But three things made her decide to officially start homeschooling. First, she wanted her children to be safe from bullies. She also wanted them to understand their cultural history. The third factor was freedom.

“I want to have time to cultivate my children’s African-American, their Nigerian history and culture in them first, before anybody tries to tell them who they are,” Griffin said. COVID was the catalyst, “but it has not been the reason that we kept going.”

The Griffins celebrate Juneteenth more than July Fourth. They have discussions about the Black Lives Matter movement and talk about critical race theory with their children, ages 11 and 8. Griffin sees homeschooling as a way to protect her children.

“I don’t want my kids to be subjected to racism in certain ways so early,” she said.

Homeschooling as activism
In Black households, homeschooling can be its own unique form of activism and resistance.

“The history that’s taught is that we’ve tried through Brown v. Board of Ed to get access to schools, and schools are integrated,” said Cheryl Fields-Smith, a professor at the University of Georgia who studies Black homeschooling and its cultural significance.

“And that’s true,” she added. “But we’ve also always been self-taught.”

Fields-Smith said homeschooling is a way to combat educational racism, which comes in many forms.

“We all know that there are structures and policies and practices within our traditional schools that can be damaging to students of color, Black students in particular,” she said.

School discipline is one of them. Data from a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights showed that Black students were suspended at three times the rate of white students, and were more likely to be reprimanded. A 2015 study from the Association for Psychological Science found that Black students are more likely to be labeled “troublemakers” by teachers.

These statistics can make parents and caretakers of Black children distrust the education system. In the last couple years a number of states have moved to add more Black history into their lesson plans. Still, earlier this year, Alabama and a handful of other states banned critical race theory in K-12 classrooms, even though it’s an academic theory of structural racism that is largely taught at the university level.

“This idea of white supremacy and the inferiority of Black people lingers today,” Fields-Smith said. “We are overcoming racism through homeschooling. I don’t think white people can say that.”

A growing community
Some families are also creating community through homeschooling.

In Alabama, Alfrea Moore said homeschooling her children for the last three years has given them the freedom to ask questions and learn without a strict curriculum. It’s also allowed them to connect with their culture.

“The thing about homeschooling in the South as a Black family that I’m finding is that there are a lot more of us than we actually know of,” Moore said.

“When we moved to get my kids to interact with other kids, there are networks of homeschoolers and Black homeschoolers in not just this part of Alabama where we live, but all over.”

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

The youngest Black female professor ever to be tenured at Oxford was born in Kenya

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The University of Oxford has made history by appointing Patricia Kingori to a full professorship, making the sociologist the youngest Black woman ever to receive tenure at Oxford or Cambridge.

By Ananya Bhattacharya

The University of Oxford has made history by appointing Patricia Kingori to a full professorship, making the sociologist the youngest Black woman ever to receive tenure at Oxford or Cambridge. Kingori, born in Kenya to a Kenyan father and Caribbean mother, spent her childhood in St Kitts, before the family moved to the UK during her early teens. Her sister, Vanessa Kingori, is the first female publisher in British Vogue’s 102-year history.

She studies the everyday ethical experiences of frontline workers in global health, and “was awarded this historic distinction in recognition of the quality and global impact of her research on academia and beyond,” the university said on Dec. 13. Kingori is in her early 40s.

From Kenya to Oxford, via St Kitts
During her eight years at Oxford, Kingori has consistently obtained large and competitive funding grants, written frequently cited and impactful publications, supervised numerous DPhil candidates, and taught hundreds of students, the university said.

However, Kingori’s road to professorship wasn’t without roadblocks. For instance, she was awarded a Wellcome Doctoral Studentship to fund her PhD with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine just a month after she gave birth to her first child. After a year’s maternity leave, she relocated to Kenya with family to do fieldwork. But her career nearly stalled when civil unrest forced her to leave in 2007. Pregnant with her second child at the time, she thought people would write her off at work.

But 10 months after she left Kenya, she was able to go back, armed with two new supervisors, to bring her data collection back on track.

After completing the PhD, she bagged the Wellcome Research Fellowship to do postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford’s Ethox Centre. Since then, her career at the British institution has taken off. Within a span of five years, she went from being a research lecturer to an associate professor.

Kingori beyond academia
In addition to garnering accolades in academia, Kingori has also served as an adviser to multiple organizations including the World Health Organization, Save the Children, Medecins San Frontières, the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, and the Obama administration’s White House Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa Initiative.

Currently, Kingori is the recipient of a Wellcome Senior Investigator award, leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers exploring global concerns around fakes, fabrications, and falsehoods in health. Outside of her research, Kingori also helms several diversity initiatives, including a visiting scholarship for Black academics to the University of Oxford, and an internships program for students of color.

Click here to read the full article on BBC News.

Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in College STEM

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young girl students building robotics on desk

In the early 2000s, U.S. colleges and universities began opening offices of diversity through which they frequently appointed a single officer to field student, faculty, and staff complaints and to expand culturally narrow curricula. But with new pressure on schools to support underrepresented students, the single-desk model of administering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts is on its way out.

Colleges leading the DEI charge, including the University of Michigan, place a DEI officer inside every academic program. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs — growing each year in prestige, popularity, and potential income for graduates — are forerunners in this effort, but continue to face some of the toughest DEI challenges.

While colleges have diversified rapidly in terms of race and gender, STEM programs continue to graduate more white students than Black and brown students. Asian students, meanwhile, are overrepresented in STEM: One-third of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Asian students in 2015-16 were in STEM fields — that’s almost double the total percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM that year.

Studies show slow or stagnant growth in the number of STEM degrees awarded to both students of color and female students. Between race and gender in STEM diversity, it’s gender that lags more: The difference between the number of STEM degrees awarded to male students (64%) and female students (36%) eclipses any difference among racial groups.

“Cultural change often does not happen quickly, and is not the kind of thing that we in science, in engineering, are used to measuring.”. Source: — Dr. Joyce Yen, Director of the University of Washington ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change

Female minority students are even more drastically underrepresented in STEM. White men earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering at six times the rate of white and nonwhite Hispanic women and over 11 times the rate of Black women. (Effectively all STEM education data is gender binary — another DEI shortcoming.)

Last year brought new urgency to colleges’ DEI efforts. Dr. Joyce Yen, director of the University of Washington’s ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, says that intensity is productive and that a problem-solving mindset is particularly endemic to STEM; however, urgency is somewhat at odds with the slow-going nature of cultural change.

“This is not work that is going to change overnight,” said Yen in an interview with BestColleges. “Cultural change often does not happen quickly, and is not the kind of thing that we in science, in engineering, are used to measuring.”

Without cultural change, underrepresented students and their faculty mentors could continue to exit STEM fields. Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, earth sciences professor at the University of California, Merced, told BestColleges that higher education must “ensure that the folks from minoritized communities who are recruited to colleges are going to be part of supportive work environments.”

Lack of Diversity in STEM at Root of Pay Gap

Over 20% of U.S. adults aged 25 or older hold a bachelor’s degree, and nearly 10% hold a master’s degree. The American Council on Education found that among Black, Hispanic or Latino/a, and American Indian or Alaska Native students, the share of adults with either degree drops by 5 or more percentage points.

Educators first began paying attention to unequal education opportunities in the late 1990s. Since that time, Black students have closed the high school graduation gap, and both Black and brown students are attending college in greater numbers than ever before. Just two decades ago, students of color comprised less than 30% of the total undergraduate population; now, they make up more than 45%.

Getting to college is one challenge — getting through it is another. Black and brown students are more likely to be first-generation college students, facing the hard work and red tape of higher education on their own. They’re also more likely to take out big loans and be defrauded by for-profit universities, which charge more for degrees that hold less value on the job market.

Underrepresented students face steep costs and steep challenges to higher education. Colleges work to enroll students of diverse identities and experiences, but many of these recruits struggle without family, financial, and academic support. They also lack representation among faculty, with few or no professors from similar backgrounds whom they can look to as mentors.

Colleges work to enroll students of diverse identities and experiences, but many of these recruits struggle without family, financial, and academic support.

Though similar percentages of white, nonwhite Latino/a, and Black students declare STEM majors at the start of their studies, nearly 4 in 10 nonwhite Latino/a and Black students end up switching their majors, compared to 29% of white students.

Furthermore, just half of Black and nonwhite Latino/a college students graduate within six years. Attrition is high among Black and nonwhite Latino/a STEM majors, with 26% of Black students and 20% of nonwhite Latino/a students dropping out. The time and money suck of an unfinished college degree can set students back for life.

STEM fields are notoriously nondiverse. For every year these lucrative fields fail to graduate more students of color, the racial pay gap splits open even wider. The same goes for the gender pay gap: The highest-earning STEM jobs employ the lowest percentage of women workers. This division in earning potential starts in college.

While retaining female students and students of color in STEM would be a major step toward achieving pay equity, successful graduates still face an uphill battle when it comes to monetizing their degrees. Women of color in STEM — doubly prejudiced against, first in education and then on the job market — earn about 60% of white men’s salary.
College STEM Programs Work Toward DEI Goals

By supporting underrepresented students in STEM, colleges can better follow through on their economic promises to enrollees. Closing racial and gender education pay gaps depend on closing STEM education gaps. But according to DEI experts, the ultimate payoff of centering DEI in STEM education includes more scientists of diverse backgrounds, more conscientious scientists, and the innovations borne of inclusivity.

“The questions that we ask now are actually weaker questions,” explained Yen, who noted that questions scientific during research and development often fail to look at the world through a DEI lens. Without that lens, key pieces of information are left out. The result? Problems like voice recognition software that can’t pick up higher-pitched female voices, and facial recognition software that fails to see darker-skinned faces.

“There was a time [when] voice recognition systems literally could not hear female voices. … You are both metaphorically and literally silenced.”. Source: — Dr. Joyce Yen, Director of the University of Washington ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change

Scientists and engineers occupy pivotal roles in either perpetuating or interrupting the inequalities embedded in the world around us. When STEM students are taught to see through a DEI lens, it changes which problems are addressed and how solutions are optimized to be truly inclusive.

A pioneering institution in DEI, the University of Michigan charged all 51 of its academic and administrative units to develop DEI plans. Each unit was then made to appoint its own diversity officer to serve as a “culture catalyst” and to “lead, coordinate, support, execute, and create structures of accountability.”

While U.S. institutions of higher education continue to struggle to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments, intentional efforts — such as those made by U-M — show promise.

Where Colleges’ DEI Intentions Fall Short

Thanks in part to colleges’ recruiting efforts, enrollment numbers indicate improvements in diversity. But the graduation gap, particularly among Black students who declared STEM majors, persists.

Diversity is only partially addressed when colleges focus on recruitment, rather than climate and retention. Berhe says DEI priorities must include “a reimagined mentoring structure” that allows multiple faculty members to support Black and brown students as they learn and face different challenges.

Read the complete article posted on Best Colleges.com

Black Woman Wins $1M Global Teacher Prize

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Keisha Thorpe, a black woman who won a $1M global teacher prize

By BET Staff

A teacher from Maryland has won the prestigious Global Teacher Prize.

According to NBC News, on Nov. 10, it was announced that Keshia Thorpe, 42, who teaches at International High School at Langley Park in Bladensburg, Maryland, would be awarded the $1 million Global Teacher Prize, which is presented every year to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.

“Education is a human right, and all children should be entitled to have access to it,” Thorpe said in a pre-recorded video message during an online broadcast from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris.

She continued, “Every child needs a champion, an adult who will never ever give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the very best they can be. This is exactly why teachers will always matter.”

Thorpe, who is originally from Jamaica, was selected from more than 8,000 applicants and her advocacy for students is impressive. NBC News reports she restructured her 12th grade English curriculum to make it culturally relevant to her students. Thorpe helps students with college applications and financial aid. Along with her twin sister, Dr. Treisha Thorpe, she co-founded the nonprofit U.S. Elite International Track, which assists student-athletes around the world to pursue scholarships to colleges and universities. Thorpe and her sister have helped over 500 students receive full track and field scholarships.

Thorpe told NBC News, “When I think about the students and how much their parents are sacrificing for them just to have an equitable education, it reminds me so much of my own journey. And so that’s why I go so hard for my students — because my story is their story.”

Click here to read the full article on BET.

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