Coronavirus News for Black Folks has a new focus: Black girls and women
Allow me to reintroduce myself: Patrice Peck, journalist and founder of The Wakeful, a newsletter highlighting the latest news about Black girls and women.
Welcome to The Wakeful.
Hello there. It’s been a while since we last spoke via the last iteration of this newsletter, Coronavirus News for Black Folks. So many people asked what I planned to do with the newsletter moving forward, whether I’d continue covering the pandemic or shift the focus.
Well after much thought, I’ve decided to both zoom out and in, providing you all and future subscribers with The Wakeful, a newsletter highlighting the latest news about Black girls and women. Each week, I’ll find, read, and explain the most informative and compelling news and opinion from the week that you might’ve (understandably) missed given our overwhelming news cycle. You can expect a mix of curated story selections from a diverse range of outlets, and original reporting, essays, and interviews from myself and other contributors.
As a subscriber of The Wakeful, you’ll stay up-to-date and informed on the current issues and stories about Black girls and women, a historically undercovered group whose complex issues and experiences inform, influence, and impact every news vertical, from politics to health to entertainment. The mission of this newsletter is to (1) hold us accountable in staying informed about issues uniquely impacting Black girls and women, (2) inspire us to read stories outside of our media bubbles, (3) champion a diverse range of journalists, and (4) offer nuanced approaches to complex, challenging topics.
Please stay subscribed (and share) if this new angle and mission resonates with you. I’ll be figuring out frequency and length as I go along. Oh, and the name is inspired by Toni Morrison, whose favorite word was said to be “wakeful,” a synonym of vigilant, attentive, observant, sharp, and watchful.
U.S. prosecutors will not bring murder charges in Shanquella Robinson’s death in Mexico
“Because it was the death of a young, Black, beautiful, brilliant, educated woman who was on vacation, justice was delayed.”
Federal prosecutors said they will not be filing charges in the death of American Shanquella Robinson in Cabo, Mexico last October. United States Attorney Dena King and the FBI announced that “the available evidence does not support a federal prosecution,” News One reported.
The 25-year-old died while on a trip with six friends and soon after a video surfaced, in which an unnamed young women is seen violently beating a seemingly inebriated Shanquella as at least two others watch. “Quella, can you at least fight back?” said a man nearby. Mexican officials determined that Shanquella died of “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation” (the dislocation of a bone that supports the skull), yet the United States did not extradite the person charged by officials. A police report also shows that a local doctor arrived at the vacation home three hours before Shanquella’s death and wanted to hospitalize her, but her friends insisted that she stay at the residence.
Her family’s attorney Sue Ann Robinson reportedly learned of discrepancies between the F.B.I.’s and Mexico’s findings (the former said the cause of death could not be determined) and criticized U.S. officials for not moving faster with the investigation and autopsy. “Because it was the death of a young, Black, beautiful, brilliant, educated woman who was on vacation,” she told The New York Times, “justice was delayed.”
A California bill would create the “Ebony Alert” to help find missing Black kids and young women
“How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them”
California Senator Steven Bradford recently introduced legislation that would create an "Ebony Alert" system for missing Black children and young women, a group disproportionately deemed “runaways” by authorities and therefore ineligible for AMBER alerts. This new alert would combat those implicit racial biases by following a new set of guidelines and considerations, like the person’s age, whether they may have been a victim of trafficking, and whether they suffer from a physical or mental disability.
“When someone who is missing is incorrectly listed as a runaway, they basically vanish a second time. They vanish from the police detectives’ workload. They vanish from the headlines. In many ways, no one even knows they are missing. How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them,” said Bradford in a statement.
Los Angeles Magazine spoke with two advocates for missing Black people: Rose Speaks, who has made her own attempts — an app and a social media campaign — at addressing the current biased missing person’s systems, and Sikivu Hutchinson, who questioned the proposed Ebony alert’s involvement of law enforcement given the American police force’s history of anti-Black racism.
These Texas parents are fighting to remove their newborn daughter from CPS custody
“This is a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on anyone”
Several outlets have reported on Temecia and Rodney Jackson and the seizure of their newborn daughter, Mila, by Texas authorities last March. having read many of them, I’ve found HuffPost journalist and newsletter founder Phil Lewis’ coverage to be the most comprehensive, accurate, and nuanced report on the multilayered story. His report included key context about jaundice, Mila’s medical condition that ultimately led a pediatrician to report the parents to local law enforcement and Child Protective Services. He also wove insightful, concise explanations of Black American’s fraught, violent history with the American gynecology and CPS throughout the piece.
“The history runs really, really deep,” Breya Johnson, a writer and reproductive justice organizer, told Phil.“Physicians oftentimes collaborate with police at the expense of their patients every single day.”
Journalist and author Brea Baker’s reported opinion piece for Refinery29 makes a powerful companion piece to Phil’s report, as Brea argues the broader, societal implications of Temecia and Rodney’s story through the multifaceted, intersectional lens of reproductive justice, a critical Black feminist-led framework calling for the human right to control one’s sexuality, gender, work, and reproduction.
MORE NATIONAL & WORLD
“Black woman smacked in face in hate-filled attack on Brooklyn street,” The Daily News
“Calgary officer who body slammed handcuffed Black woman should have gone to jail: judge,” CBC
“Black woman settles wrongful termination lawsuit against private school,” 2 Urban Girls
“Black Women Feel the Brunt of America’s Mass Incarceration,” Word in Black
“How A Racist Wall Blocked Black Morgan State Students From A White Plaza. Now It's Finally Torn Down,” ESSENCE
“Here’s a radical suggestion: Stop simplifying Black women,” The Harvard Gazette
“Hampton NAACP to host free swim class for Black women,” WTKR
“3 Black women become first trio to be members of Cleveland Fire in over 20 years,” News 5 Cleveland
“Program builds confidence, lifts up young Black women,” GMA
April 11-17 is Black Maternal Health Week
Most Black pregnancy-related deaths occur weeks or months after childbirth, and a majority are preventable
"We still have to make sure that we are vigilant [even after childbirth]"
The latest CDC report on maternal mortality cases showed that Black women die during and just after pregnancy at a rate 2.6 times that of white women and that cardiac and coronary conditions, like high blood pressure complications, are the leading underlying cause of those pregnancy-related deaths. Researchers also found that a majority of all pregnancy-related deaths, roughly 53%, happened after the first week of pregnancy and up to a year postpartum, with over 80% of the deaths considered preventable.
This must-read ESSENCE article addressing the report includes proactive advice and tips from Cardiologist Rachel Bond, M.D., who suggests people of reproductive age receive annual preconception counseling, speak with family members about their pregnancies and cardiac history, and schedule close follow-ups with clinicians, particularly patients experiencing preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, or even a premature labor. Prolonged swelling, swelling in the face or hands, chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, especially when lying flat, and belly discomfort are all red flags of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that can still happen up to six weeks after delivery.
Dealing With Anxiety As A Black Woman Preparing To Give Birth, ESSENCE
“This West Philly Resident Is Launching a No-Cost Cycling Group for Black Women,” Philadelphia Magazine
Diverse sperm shortage causes dilemma for some Black women: Have a baby who doesn't share your background or remain childless, CBS News
“The Immeasurable Joy Of Becoming A Black Egg Donor,” Refinery29 Unbothered
Oprah sheds light on the shocking reality of menopause and premenopause, The Grio
Meet the first Black woman to open a private optometry practice in North Carolina, Q City Metro
“Acting EMS Chief Amera Gilchrist poised to become the first Black woman to lead Pittsburgh EMS,” Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
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Black political leaders push for California governor to appoint a Black woman senator
“There is no Black woman in the Senate, so that commitment was heard across the nation”
With California senator Diane Feinstein facing increasing pressure to resign amid ongoing health complications, Black political leaders are calling for state governor Gavin Newsom to honor his 2021 promise of nominating a Black woman for the Senate should Sen. Feinstein resign. Rep. Barbara Lee, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and San Francisco Mayor London Breed have all been suggested as potential contenders, according to Politico.
Florida Republicans Vote Down Abortion Exception for Condition That Nearly Killed a Black Woman, Jezebel
The Florida GOP Is Rolling Back Basic Freedoms. Meet The Black Woman Fighting Them Back, ESSENCE
This Mom Went From The PTA To Politics - Meet The First Black Woman Vice Mayor Of Culver City, ESSENCE
Lisa Sánchez claims milestone of first Black woman on Boise City Council after Haney Keith appointment, Boise Dev
“Carolyn Long Banks, first Black woman on Atlanta City Council, dies at 82,” AJC
The U.S. economy won’t prosper unless Black women thrive, confirms top economist
“I care about all workers, obviously, but I really, really care about Black and brown women”
This profile of economist Janelle Jones tracks her trailblazing path to becoming the first Black women to serve as chief economist at the Labor Department and, currently, the chief economist and policy director of one of the largest labor unions in the United States.
What’s even more impressive is that she’s done so through “Black Women Best,” an arguably radical, equity-centered framework for supporting the most marginalized workers of our community (Black women, statistically speaking) to bolster our economy and strengthen our collective prosperity. [paywall]
“‘Bootstraps’ mentality doesn’t work without tackling systemic inequality first, ‘The Black Agenda’ editor says,” Marketwatch
ENTERTAINMENT & CELEBRITY
This TikTok-famous sister band signals a long overdue evolution of country music
“Everything's evolving and country music also needs to, too.”
The BoykinZ, aka "The Black girls of country TikTok,” took a break from going viral to speak with Brianna Holt at Insider about their social media fame, their contributions to modern day country music, and their upcoming guest appearance on Shania Twain’s Tennessee tour stop this summer (the young sister group also performed with the music legend at this year’s CMT awards).
MORE ENTERTAINMENT & CELEBRITY
“Black Women Vie For Princess Tiana Role In Rumored ‘The Princess And The Frog’ Live-Action Remake,” Blavity
“The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster trailer introduces a modern reimagining of Frankenstein,” Entertainment Weekly
“Aisha Tyler Says She Was 'Petrified' to Join 'Friends' Ahead of 20-Year Anniversary of Her Role (Exclusive),” ET
“Inside Donald Glover’s Complicated History With Black Women,” The Daily Beast
“Beyoncé, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett And More Make The TIME100 Most Influential List,” ESSENCE
For Angel Reese, yesterday’s price is most definitely not today’s price
The name, image, and likeness (NIL) of the the Louisiana State University (LSU) women’s basketball superstar is now valued at $1.3 million, stemming from deals with top brands like Coach, Amazon Merch on Demand, McDonald’s, Sparkling Ice, Xfinity, Wingstop, Outback Steakhouse and Discord.
AfroTech reported that Angel allegedly has the most NIL deals of any college basketball player. Her NIL valuation along with her Instagram following (+2 million followers) has skyrocketed since the start of March Madness, which saw her help LSU secure a national championship and spark a national debate about respectability politics and double standards facing Black women athletes, especially those from the hood.
“Black female athletes: Having Black female coach is crucial,” AP
“A Growing W.N.B.A. Still Boxes Out Some Personalities,” The New York Times
“‘It's time to talk about black rugby players’ hair,’” BBC
“USC Names Track & Field Facility In Honor Of Allyson Felix's Career Accomplishments,” ESSENCE
“Shaquille O'Neal says Angel Reese — not Joe Burrow — is the all-time greatest athlete from LSU,” CBS
Thanks for reading Patrice Peck's Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY
This historically Black university improved Silicon Valley’s intern pipeline by creating its own
“To be honest with you, it’s a brutal process. We see things very differently here at Bowie.”
Bowie State University, a historically Black school with a renowned computer science program, noticed that most of its computing majors were rejected from internships at Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and other top tech firms. Instead of scrutinizing the students, faculty at the Maryland university addressed the problems with Silicon Valley’s notoriously high-pressured, impersonal, stressful vetting process and socioeconomic barriers by creating their own internship placement program. As a result, 60 Bowie computing students interned with companies like Deloitte, federal agencies like NASA and local start-ups last summer, the New York Times reported. [paywall]
MORE BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY
“Beyoncé is a fashion icon. So why can’t she sell leggings?” Andscape
“Women to Know: Tech Titans,” HelloBeautiful & Madame Noire
“Why This College Student Created a Coloring Book to Celebrate Black Women in STEM,” EdSurge
“Why Gal-Dem’s Closure Feels “Too Close To Home” For UK Black Creatives,” Refinery29 Unbothered
Black, queer and neurodivergent in tech: How one advocate is creating safe space for intersectionality, Mashable
This founder is connecting Black women across ages and stages to help them ‘build the network to thrive,’ Fortune
New York City’s newest weed dispensary opens with a Black woman at its helm, NBC News
Nikki High Operates First Black Female-owned Bookstore in Pasadena, Los Angeles Sentinel
OPINION & PERSONAL ESSAYS
When we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, why not do our own damn thing?
“It Doesn’t Matter If We Behave,” The Cut
In an vulnerable personal essay, The Cut writer and author Tembae Denton-Hurst reflects on her winding journey for professional success and self-acceptance amid a toxic media industry designed to reject her very identity and culture: “If you were to ask me why I was stretching myself, I would say that it was to make the women around me feel seen, to change something for the collective, but that wasn’t the whole truth. I wanted to exist in rooms that felt closed off to me, to wield the power needed to change the hearts and opinions of the people who picked up a magazine.” Her complex experience largely inspired “Homebodies,” her upcoming debut novel now available for preorder.
MORE OPINION & PERSONAL ESSAY
“U.S. Soccer's 'Becky with the good hair' email fail is about lack of representation,” USA Today
“An Ode to Black Women Never Putting Down Their Purses,” The Cut
“An Emotional TikTok Reveals How Black Women Experience Touch Starvation,” HuffPost
Until next time.
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