Category Archives: Black (incl. African American)

Feb 13 2014

In the Media: Women’s News Organization Honors Nurse Practitioner

This is part of the February 2014 issue of Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge.

Kimarie Bugg, MSN, MPH, CLC, a nurse practitioner and breastfeeding advocate, earned a prestigious award earlier this year from Women’s eNews, an online news organization that covers news of particular concern to women.

Women’s eNews named Bugg one of its “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” in January for her work to promote breastfeeding among Black women. Bugg will receive the award later this year at a ceremony in New York City.

Bugg is president and CEO of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), Inc., a member network that was founded to address breastfeeding disparities among people of color nationwide through culturally competent training, education, advocacy, and support. With a focus on increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, ROSE seeks to normalize breastfeeding by serving as a catalyst that provides resources and networking opportunities for individuals and communities.

Read More

Feb 5 2014

Be Heart Smart: Addressing the High Burden of Cardiovascular Disease Among African-American Women

Nadia Winston, MSPH, is a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Nursing, pursuing dual nurse practitioner studies in family practice and occupational health. She has a master of science in public health degree from Meharry Medical College and is a former scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. This post is part of the “Health Care in 2014” series.

file Nadia Winston

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of African American women. It has become imperative for the nation to take back the reins of its health status and educate the public about this threat. The statistics are alarming. Black women are twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease as women of other ethnicities. And according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease kills nearly 50,000 African-American women annually. The reason for this disparity can be attributed to a lack of health knowledge, being overweight or obese, and lack of physical activity. Early intervention and action has been identified as the key to reducing this population’s risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease and related diagnoses.

file Vanessa Jones Briscoe

Addressing and raising awareness of the health risks associated with cardiovascular diseases for African American women has been quite challenging. Recognizing this issue, Vanessa Jones Briscoe, PhD, MSN, then a Health Policy Associate at the Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, developed and implemented a culturally appropriate health education program to educate minority populations about unhealthy lifestyles. It is called the “Be Heart Smart” program.

Read More

Jan 23 2014

Focus on Health to End Poverty

Janice Johnson Dias, PhD, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections alumnus (2008) and president of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a health advocacy that develops and scales community health initiatives for women and girls. She is a graduate of Brandeis and Temple universities and a newly tenured faculty member in the sociology department at City University of New York/John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


Policy action and discussion this month have focused on poverty, sparked by the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and Dr. King’s birthday. Though LBJ and King disagreed about the Vietnam War, they shared a commitment to ending poverty. Half a century ago, President Johnson introduced initiatives to improve the education, health, skills, jobs, and access to economic resources for the poor. Meanwhile, Dr. King tackled poverty through the “economic bill of rights” and the Poor People's Campaign. Both their efforts focused largely on employment.

Where is health in these and other anti-poverty efforts?

The answer seems simple: nowhere and everywhere. Health continues to play only a supportive role in the anti-poverty show. That's a mistake in our efforts to end poverty. It was an error in 1964 and 1968, and it remains an error today.

Let us consider the role of health in education and employment, the two clear stars of anti-poverty demonstrations. Research shows that having health challenges prevents the poor from gaining full access to education and employment. Sick children perform more poorly in schools. Parents with ill children work fewer hours, and therefore earn less. Health care costs can sink families deeper into debt.

Read More

Jan 22 2014

Overcoming Health Disparities: Promoting Justice and Compassion

By Janet Chang, PhD, an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections Program and an assistant professor of psychology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Chang received a PhD from the University of California, Davis, and a BA from Swarthmore College. She studies sociocultural influences on social support, help seeking, and psychological functioning among diverse ethnic/racial groups. Her RWJF-funded research project (2009 – 2012) examined the relationship between social networks and mental health among Latinos and Asian Americans.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is well known for his fight against racial injustice, but he also advocated for socioeconomic justice. In particular, Dr. King said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” (Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, March 25, 1966). His profound words still resonate with us today.

While strides have been made in the past several decades, there continues to be inequality and unequal treatment. In 1978, the President’s commission reported ethnic/racial disparities in health services, and this is still a vexing societal problem in the United States. Compared to non-minorities, American Indians, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and other ethnic/racial minorities are significantly less likely to receive the care that they need and more likely to receive lower quality health care. Ultimately, these disparities compromise the quality of life of most Americans.

The factors that contribute to heath disparities are complex. As a social-cultural psychologist, I also believe that our tolerance for injustice stems in part from larger cultural forces that shape our psychological tendencies, which simplify our world and constrain our ability to take the perspective of others. In the United States, the cultural values that make our society distinctive, independent, and strong may also serve to limit our potential for greater growth—a healthier, happier, and more productive society. 

Read More

Dec 16 2013

Explaining the Link between Income, Race, and Susceptibility to Kidney Disease

Deidra Crews, MD, ScM, an alumna of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (2009-2013), was named the 2013-2015 Gilbert S. Omenn Anniversary Fellow at the prestigious Institute of Medicine. Among her current research is a study examining the association between unhealthy diet and kidney disease among low-income individuals.


Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on your fellowship! What are your priorities for the coming year?

Deidra Crews: Over the next two years, I'll be participating in different activities of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). I'll be working with IOM committees and participating in roundtables and workshops. That's the main function of the fellowship. The great thing about it is I'll get to experience firsthand the activities of IOM and hopefully contribute to one or more of the reports that will come out of the IOM over the next couple of years. Because of my interest in disparities in chronic kidney disease, I will be working with the committee on social and behavioral domains for electronic health records, which falls under the IOM board of population health and public health practice. We will be making recommendations on which social and behavioral factors should be tracked in patients' electronic health records.

Read More

Dec 13 2013

The Vast Impact of the IOM Bolsters Efforts to Address Health Disparities and Promote a Culture of Health

Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, is the William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and founding director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. He also chairs the National Advisory Board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College and is a former member of the National Advisory Committees for the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program and Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research.


The Institute of Medicine (IOM), perhaps more than any other institution, sets the country’s standards and agenda. The field of health disparities offers a great example. In 2002 the IOM published the report Unequal Treatment. The report compiled the scientific evidence documenting substantial racial and ethnic inequities in the quality of health care received by Americans. The report placed health inequalities on the front burner of the nation’s health policy agenda. Understanding the causes and solutions to racial inequities in health has been the primary focus of my career. While the findings were not a surprise to me, I was elated that the IOM had lent its considerable credibility to this long-standing and vexing problem. I am even more elated, now, to have been elected to membership in the IOM.

Read More

Aug 28 2013

Two Conferences Offer Networking Opportunities that Renew a Scholar’s Interest in Research

Courtney Sinclair Thomas, BS, is a health policy fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College and a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests are maternal and child health, specifically social factors that contribute to the high rate of infant mortality in the African American community.


I recently presented at two conferences in New York: the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP). Overall, they were great experiences. It was my first year attending such large conferences within the field of sociology, so I found myself nervous, yet excited about meeting new people and hearing about new research.

Although the two annual meetings were quite different, I gained a wealth of knowledge from them both. The SSSP meeting was held August 9th to 11th and this year’s theme was “Moving Beyond Social Constructionism,” challenging the way we, as scholars, think about society’s problems.  I presented a paper titled, “The Black Middle Class: New Insights for the Study of Racial and Ethnic Inequality,” during a thematic session with other scholars who study race and identity. There were four other panelists and we each had time to share our work with the audience and engage in conversation about the themes that emerged among the different projects.

Read More

Aug 9 2013

The Real Deal: ACA and the Underserved – Panel Discussion at the National Association of Black Journalists

Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH, MA, MPA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science & Health Education at St. Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections grantee, his research focuses on the social and economic conditions structuring disparities in the health of African American males.


The Real Deal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that many Americans have many questions regarding how the ACA will affect their health care coverage or if they will be covered at all. Our panel discussion at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention revealed many of these questions concerning how Americans will be enrolled, how their existing health insurance plans will change, and what means tests will be used to determine their eligibility. This panel discussion suggested that many Americans were not aware of what the changes will be and if their state will expand Medicaid.

Medicaid expansion will not occur in many states where close to six of ten African Americans reside. This suggests that many African Americans will remain without health insurance or will be under-insured. This is a real challenge to improving health care outcomes and reducing health care costs over time.

Read More

Aug 8 2013

Advocates' Role in Helping Media Tell the Story of the Affordable Care Act

Jacquie Anderson is chief operating officer of Community Catalyst and director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Consumer Voices for Coverage.


Last week, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosted a great workshop at its annual convention in Orlando on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the underserved. The RWJF-sponsored discussion entitled "The Real Deal: ACA and the Underserved" was a candid conversation about what members of the media need from the advocacy community to 'get the ACA story right.' 

Clearly, the media and communications professionals are hungry for information on the ACA and how it will affect consumers.  They find it challenging to keep up to speed on all the details and report it in an accurate, fair manner.

It is also clear our role and responsibility as advocates is to get them the information they need in a timely fashion. We shouldn't assume that the media are only interested in sensational stories: They want to know how the law is affecting people’s lives in the communities they live in.

They need to hear that getting people enrolled is a door-to-door, grassroots retail campaign, and we need them to understand these key takeaways:

  1. Consumers are hungry for factual information about how the ACA will affect their lives
  2. Advocates and community-based organizations along with others (including the media) have a key role to play in providing that information
  3. Given the size of the opportunity, as millions of people enroll in health insurance for the first time, there will be bumps along the road. But getting people access to health care is worth the journey
  4. The role of the media in providing factual information will be critical over the next few months

So advocates should reach out to media in their states and offer to get them up to speed on the ACA and to connect them to consumers who have compelling stories to tell. Make yourself indispensable!

Learn more about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation event at the NABJ convention here and here.

Aug 6 2013

How the 'Change My Steps Challenge' Changed Me

Aneesah Gilbert participated in the "Change My Steps Challenge,” organized by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Chileshe Nkonde-Price, MD, to address the fact that heart disease rates are increasing among Black women.


At age 26, I came to the realization that I wasn’t getting any younger. With this being so obvious, you’re probably sarcastically wondering: How did she figure that out? Well, I will tell you the story. One winter morning I awakened to my left arm so numb I thought it was not my own. My arm was numb because I’d slept on it all night (I had slept this way from birth up until this point).


I visited my doctor and discussed this tragedy, he laughed as he does normally to all my hypochondriac symptoms. After he had a good chuckle he told me that because of my weight (all 210 lbs. of me), the blood flow was being cut off in my arm and caused it to go numb. He then told me that my weight could cause a number of issues I did not want to experience at 26 years of age. I went home, grabbed my computer, typed in the search bar ‘DIET’ and began my stretch of unsuccessful attempts at losing weight. I came up with this personal fact: There is no diet or exercise that will work for me if I am not willing to work for it.

Read More