ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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In 2001, the incarceration rate for black women (730.7 per every 100,000) was

not only the highest for all women in the city, but even exceeded that of white men

(488.3 per 100,000.) Those numbers were substantially lower for Latinas.)




Women of Color Now an Impoverished

Majority in New York City 



The Cost of Poverty

New York City spends about $64,000 a year to incarcerate a woman--it could pay full tuition for

four women to complete undergraduate degrees at the City University of New York.

The 2nd Annual Report on The Status of Women of Color in NYC

Black non-Hispanic, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women together constitute 64 percent of New York City's female population. Their social hardships are due to a lack of adequate policies and their lack of a fair share of budgetary resources

Poverty Stands as Major Barrier to Health

Women of color have the highest mortality rates of all women and those diseases are the primary cause of death. In 2000, black and Puerto Rican women accounted for an alarming 80 percent of HIV-related deaths in New York, climbing from 60 percent in 1990. Diabetes is also a major cause of death in these communities. In 2000, 65 percent of New York women who died from the disease were women of color.

Poverty, Unemployment, & Healthcare

Black women have the highest unemployment rate (9.5 percent), followed by Hispanic women (8.6 percent)--both well above white women's (5.3 percent) and the city average of 6.3 percent. For single mothers, those rates are even higher, reaching 10.9 percent for black women and 12 percent for Latinas.

Who Is Getting Paid?

When they do have jobs, women of color often remain confined in low-wage industries, while white women have moved up to higher-paying managerial and professional occupations. Those wide disparities are reflected in income. For instance, the 2000 median family income for white households in Manhattan was $119,000; it was $37,605 for Asian families, $27,939 for black families and $25,939 for Hispanic families living in that same borough. For single mothers, the situation is even worse. The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996--which limited welfare entitlements to five years over a lifetime--has left many of them stranded. These women live in terribly depressed conditions.

Women Living In Poverty

The report found that 34 percent of Hispanic women, 32 percent of Native American women, 27 percent of black women and 20 percent of Asian women live in poverty. As New York's poorest, they are more likely to receive a lower standard of care and be denied access to drugs that might prevent or treat diseases.

Violence Major Cause of Death

The report shows that women of color accounted for more than three-fourths (78 percent) of all female homicide victims, with an especially high rate for black women, who made up almost 50 percent of the total, although they represented only one-quarter of the female population aged 10 years and older.

Prostitution Leading Cause of Arrest

Majority of women incarcerated are mothers who lived with and cared for their children before their imprisonment. Black and Hispanic women made up 85 percent of all women arrested in 2001. Although controlled substances, assault, and larceny remain the leading causes of arrest, prostitution has significantly increased. Between 1995 and 2001, the proportion of women aged 16 to 24 incarcerated for prostitution jumped from 25 to 42 percent.

Jailing of Women of Color

In 2001, the incarceration rate for black women (730.7 per every 100,000) was not only the highest for all women in the city, but even exceeded that of white men (488.3 per 100,000.) Those numbers were substantially lower for Latinas (341.8 per 100,000) and drastically different for white women (114.9 per 100,000.) Black men had an incarceration rate of 5,468.3 for the same year and Hispanic men had about half of that proportion (2551 per every 100,000.)

Low Levels of Educational Attainment

Young women of color are 76 percent of all women under age 15. In 2000, almost half of the female Hispanic population over 25 in New York City had not completed high school. Comparable high school graduation rates for black women are 29 percent and for Native Americans, 43 percent.

Even Asian women, represented well in higher education--35 percent of the group completed at least four years of college--had an equal proportion (35 percent) of high school dropouts in 2000.

Access to higher education is still mainly dominated by white women who make up 65 percent of all the women with professional or graduate degrees in the city, while they are only 36 percent the city's female population. Comparatively, only 17 percent of black women, 14 percent of Native American women and 8 percent of Hispanic women had completed four or more years of college.

Source: "Women of Color Now a Majority in New York City" By Marieme Daff - WEnews correspondent -- Marieme Daff is a free-lance writer based in New York.

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies. As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 4 February 2012




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