BLACK LIVES MATTER: COMMUNITY RESOURCE GUIDE

BLACK LIVES MATTER
Art By Jonny DeStefano
Published Issue 078, June 2020

Cyborg thugs once again bringing violence to a peaceful protest.

The overwhelming majority of Black Lives Matter protesters have been peaceful, respectful and brave beyond our comprehension, despite the hundreds of years of deep and inexcusable failure in our country to reform our criminal justice system and branches of law enforcement. These horribly brutal practices and killings by law enforcement and government agencies are rooted in the history of our country dating back to slave patrols and our mere practice of slavery in and of itself. When an entire group of people is under such imminent danger from both explicit and implicit violence and murder, it’s time we stand in solidarity and take action. Now. Forevermore. Black Lives Matter.

Take Action. Show Solidarity. Give Support. Donate. Learn More: Black Lives Matter | Black Lives Matter 5280 | Colorado Freedom Fund | Black Owned Businesses In And Around Denver | Colorado Black Arts Festival | Denver Justice Project | Soul 2 Soul Sisters | Showing Up for Racial Justice – Denver | The Denver Foundation Anti-Racism Approach | Denver Black Pages

Below you will find multiple resources from multiple organizations.


A Growing Resource List for the Movement for Black Lives by AIGA Eye on Design


The following is from an open-sourced Google doc list which is meant to reflect the rapidly evolving nature of this moment. Though this list is not artist or designer-specific, AIGA Eye on Design included a list of platforms where you can find Black designers, illustrators, and Black-owned design studios for you to hire and support. Please feel free to edit their document with your own resources + suggestions as this list is far from complete.


Bail funds and memorial funds  

Organizations seeking donations

In addition to bail funds, there are groups and organizations that are fighting for Black racial justice and anti-racism that could use your support right now. Please also consider setting up a recurring donation to any of these organizations if you’re able—this helps give organizations a reliable revenue stream for regular operating costs and longer term planning. 

A coalition to demand that Minneapolis divest from policing and invest in long-term alternatives.  

Transformative justice organization for developing Black leadership in Minnesota. Both Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block are Black-run and have been doing important on the groundwork for the protests in Minneapolis. 

An organization that pays criminal bails and immigration bond for those who can’t afford to as we seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing. It has encouraged people to donate to local Black and BIPOC-led organizations like the two above and to George Floyd’s family. 

The NAACP’s legal organization fighting social justice. 

Actions you can take now 

  • The Movement For Black Lives, alongside organizers and activists across the country, have initiated A Week of Action in Defense of Black Lives from June 1-5. Each day holds a new demand and recommends actionable steps you can take in your own community, sorted into low, medium, and high risk. 

Resources

“Wear a mask and eye protection, carry lots of water for hydration and first aid, and have a health plan for before, during, and after your participation.” A resource by Raina Wellman and Lauren Sarkissian that addresses how to navigate protesting in the time of COVID-19. 

The Washington D.C. chapter of AIGA created a thorough resource list for people who want to deepen their understanding of anti-racism. Includes books, articles, podcasts, films, organizations to follow, and resources for parents looking to raise children with an awareness of anti-racism. 

A guide by Manassaline Coleman for who to target with social media and digital protesting tactics and how to make your messages most effective. Support Coleman’s work on this guide by sending her money through Cashapp: $saliine. 

From 2014, a guide for engaging in the movement for ending police and state violence against black people if you are unable to attend rallies and protests. 

An open source guide to becoming a more effective ally by Amélie Lamont.

Optical allyship is “allyship that only serves at the surface level to platform the ‘ally,’ it makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away the systems of power that oppress.”  A super straightforward and clear guide for NOT doing that, by Mireille Cassandra Harper. 

A guide by Annika Izora centering Black queer, trans and nonbinary folks and Black women so you can create your own ongoing reparations plan.  

From Spaceus, a growing list of artists who are working to raise funds for the movement by selling their work. 

Hart, a Black queer activist, writer, and sexuality educator offers webinar courses on anti-racism, resistance, and analysing structures that perpetuate “mass marginalization under global capitalism.” After learning 101, go ahead and take Hart’s Social Justice 102. 

One of the most comprehensive Google docs we’ve seen, containing many of the community bail funds, memorial funds, political education resources, orgs, and general advice/tips for people attending protests or using social media as an organizing tool.

This guide is non exhaustive compilation of ways cultural institutions, public or privately funded, where people in places of curatorial responsibility are overwhelmingly white and/or light skinned, as well as spaces that utilise the white cube(/black box) as the display frame, can and should and will have to redistribute their material and immaterial resources when welcoming Black folks, people of color and our audiences. Pullout Guide by Eunice Belidor.

The Antiracist Classroom is a student-led organization at the Art Centre College of Design focused on counteracting racism and white supremacy in design education and practice.

Mayors pledge, other resources at
https://www.obama.org/mayor-pledge/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WX_GXhkhY-GH8fagak58CdiEY8Z7Kdtn9_MGoneP-xM/edit?usp=sharing Bilingual (Spanish & English) resource on anti-Blackness in Latin America and BLM 

Where to find Black designers, illustrators, and Black-owned design studios to hire 

Designers offering free services 

  • Wkshps is offering free consulting time to Black and Black-led non-profits, cultural organizations, businesses, artists, and designers.  
  • Design to Divest (via Vanessa Newman/ @fiveboi) A task force of designers who have been holding weekly virtual meet ups during quarantine is offering its services to Black organizers free of charge. 
  • Lucky Risograph in New York is offering free printing services for activists and organizers fighting for racial equality.
  • Companion—Platform in Berkeley is offering to print materials for protests for free along with contactless pickup. 
  • Body Language Shop is offering to make graphics for social justice organizations, educators, and community organizers. 
  • Direct Angle Press is offering free Risograph printing for Black Lives Matter activists and organizations in New Hampshire. 
  • Collective Power, a collective of designers, writers, artists, and strategists, is offering free design services for BIPOC owned businesses.
  • Rachel Zeroth is a Twin Cities designer offering free design services with priority given to the BIPOC community, organizers, and businesses. (Contact Rachel
  • Daly is offering pro-bono consulting to any pro-BLM & justice organizations and cause groups that need help fundraising. 

Talks from/about Black designers

This list is just a start— we invite you to add to it.

Aaron Douglas

Antionette Carroll

Arem Duplessis

Ashleigh Axios

Ashley Ford 

Bobby Martin

Ced Funches

Crystal Martin

Dian Holton

Dontrese Brown

Emmett McBain

Forest Young

Ian Spalter

Jason Murphy

Kevin Bethune

Sylvia Harris

Anne H. Berry & Penina Acayo Laker

Rick Griffith 

Events to Have on Your Radar

Activists to follow on social

This list is just a start— we invite you to add to it.

Anti-racism reading 

Ed note: We ask that whenever you can, please don’t buy these books from Amazon. In most cases, we’ve linked directly to the author’s website. You can buy from local bookstores at Indiebound.org and Bookshop.org, and buy ebooks and audio books on Kobo. We’ve also tried to include any links to directly compensate these authors in addition to buying their books, which we encourage that you do if you are using and accessing their work. 

Oluo has been writing about race since the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, when she turned her food blog into a space for talking about issues of racism and injustice. She’s since become an influential speaker and writer on these topics, and her book So You Want to Talk About Race? is New York Times bestseller. We find that it’s a good primer on racism and guide for continuing the conversation. 

“Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey of how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.” Saad also runs the Good Ancestor Podcast, is an incredible force on Instagram, and first published her book as a free PDF in 2018 (which she now asks that you don’t use as it’s since been updated). To make sure she gets paid for the work she does that we all benefit from, support Saad’s work on Patreon

For an in-depth history of how race was invented and constructed, and how the idea of whiteness has carried forth throughout history, from the ancient Greeks (who had no concept of race) up to today. It’s slightly academic, deeply informed, and a truly engaging read. 

Sociologist and educator Robin DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” in 2011 to describe the defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged. In her 2018 book, she illustrates how this behavior reinforces white supremacy and prevents meaningful dialogue, ultimately aiding an understanding that racism is not a practice that is only restricted to “bad” people. See also DiAngelo’s anti-racism resources for white people and her interview on Layla Saad’s excellent Podcast Good Ancestors

“Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism re-energizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other.”

Eddo-Lodge, a London-based journalist, decided to write this book out of her frustration that the conversations in Britain around race weren’t being led by the people who are affected by it. The result is a book that explores issues such as the whitewashing of history and feminism and the political purpose of white dominance. The book turns three years old this week, and Eddo-Lodge is asking that anyone who buys her book donate the same amount to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

Delving behind Canada’s veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. Robyn Maynard provides readers with the first comprehensive account of nearly four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada.

The lines of oppression are already drawn. The only question is, Which side are you on in the struggle against the violence that is white supremacy and policing? Taking Sides supplies an ethical compass and militant map of the terrain, arguing not for reform of structurally brutal institutions but rather for their abolition.

“a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. The book discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States, but Alexander noted that the discrimination faced by African-American males is prevalent among other minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. “

Angle Davis is an activist, philosopher, and educator. This PDF is a collection of her interviews from February 2013 to June 2015. She discusses the Ferguson trials, Palestinian conflict, and the foundations of Movement. She unpacks oppression and the state of violence in America. This is an inspirational read for those interested in activism, Black feminism, and intersectionality. 


Why Minorities Are Overpaying for Auto Insurance (and How to Make a Change)

By Saphia Lanier
Originally published on reviews.com | July 30, 2020
 

The injustices minorities face in America today extend far beyond police brutality and mass incarceration. Every day, Black people are also facing challenges that impede their ability to lead successful lives. This is especially true when it comes to finances. Getting unfair wages, missing out on advancement opportunities, and being denied business loans is a part of the issue. However, we also find minorities are faced with other problems, like getting access to affordable auto insurance. 

For example, did you know that auto insurers discriminate against residents who live in specific ZIP codes? One report shows auto insurers charge those living in predominantly Black neighborhoods 30% more than in white communities. And an analysis done in four states (Chicago, California, Texas, and Missouri) found significant gaps between the premiums charged to minority and non-minority neighborhoods. For instance, in Illinois, six auto insurers were found charging an average of 30% more for premiums for Black drivers. 

Systemic racism is an underlying issue in America for minorities. The design is to oppress minorities financially and educationally, as well as within the justice system. Hiking up auto insurance rates is yet another form of this. Not only does it add to financial hardship, but it can also lead to other problems for minorities who can’t afford the high premiums and end up driving without auto insurance. Some may receive tickets, a suspended license, or even jail time. Then, in the future, obtaining auto insurance will be even more expensive for these drivers due to a poor driving record. 

In this article, we explore how these racial disparities in auto insurance rates come about and what minorities can do. 

How Your ZIP Code Impacts Your Rate

It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to use your ZIP code to determine your premium. They do this by looking at factors like:

  • The number of claims in the area (the more, the higher your rate)
  • Population density (the more, the higher your odds of an accident)
  • Environmental/geographical factors (extreme weather like snowstorms can pose driving threats)
  • Unemployment rate (odds of customers losing work and not paying their premium)
  • Road conditions (potholes and dangerous intersections can be treacherous)

Based on these factors, you can see how minority communities can be targeted for higher rates. You’ll find many are impoverished and struggle with poor road conditions, high population densities, and high unemployment. 

But why are insurance companies charging minorities significantly more than non-minorities? Is it truly because of high population density and other similar factors present in prominently Black neighborhoods, or that minorities have worse driving records and pose a higher risk to the auto insurance provider? This would make sense if data didn’t reveal otherwise.

In the report mentioned earlier, we find that in Illinois, 33 out of 34 auto insurers charge at least 10% more for safe drivers in minority ZIP codes than in risky white ZIP codes. In a study by the Consumer Federation of America, it shows that in the densest urban centers, predominantly Black areas are charged 60% more than those in mostly white areas with equal density. It also reveals that good drivers living in minority neighborhoods are being charged a stunning 70% more than those in white ZIP codes. 

Let’s put this in perspective: A white driver with a good driving record is charged $622 compared to $1,060 for a minority driver. 

Here are more facts from the report:

  • Drivers in predominantly Black ZIP codes pay 60% more in premiums than in equally dense, mostly white urban neighborhoods.
  • Drivers in minority communities in rural areas pay 24% more than in white rural ZIP codes. 
  • Major companies like Progressive and Farmer’s Insurance charge those living in predominantly Black ZIP codes 92% more for premiums. Other insurers with similar practices include Allstate (56%), State Farm (62%), and Geico (52%). 
  • In metro areas like New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington D.C., Orlando, and Boston, the premiums are 50% higher for predominantly Black ZIP codes. 

And this doesn’t afflict only the poorer minorities either. It gets worse the more income minorities earn. For example, the average premium for upper-middle-income Black neighborhoods is 194% higher. That’s $2,113 for an upper-middle-class Black driver compared to $717 for an upper-middle-class white driver.

“These findings suggest a troubling pattern of high rates in African American communities regardless of driver history,” Tom Feltner, Director of Financial Services at the Consumer Federation of America, said on their website. “We are not rushing to judgment about why this happens, but it is urgent that regulators, lawmakers, and the industry take a hard look at these findings and address the impact of high auto insurance prices on drivers living in predominantly African American communities.”

How Traffic Tickets Factor Into Racial Disparities

What role do traffic tickets play in racial disparity? When it has to do with unfair auto insurance hikes — a lot. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the most common reason for driver-police contact is traffic stops. And when it comes to “driving while Black,” we find a significant disparity in the distribution of traffic tickets. 

Black drivers are almost two times more likely to be pulled over than white drivers (even though white people tend to drive more frequently), and young Black men have even higher odds of being pulled over — more than Black women and older Black men. With this high rate of traffic stops, minority drivers are more likely to receive a ticket for minor traffic infractions than white drivers. 

There are also stories of African Americans being pulled over for no reason and then threatened to be ticketed by the officer if they make an issue of it. This has become a significant concern because cops use traffic stops to find criminals (using search and seizures and warrant checks) instead of focusing on bad drivers. 

Because of the injustices minority drivers face on the roadway, they’re more easily targeted by auto insurers looking to charge higher premium rates. One of the factors insurers look at when you apply for coverage is how many traffic violations you’ve had in the last three years. If you’re given a speeding ticket, it can lead to an average 13% increase in an auto insurancepremium. That’s because the insurer believes you’re at a higher risk of getting into an accident. 

Unfortunately, if you’re an African American, then the odds of having been issued one or more speeding tickets are highly likely, which means higher insurance premiums. 

Can Red-Light and Speed Cameras Help?

If being prejudice is a human issue, wouldn’t it make sense to remove humans from the equation to eliminate racism? Well, that’s one reason some are pushing for more traffic cameras. It’s believed that by using red-light and speed cameras, it’s possible to reduce racial-inspired traffic stops, allowing police officers to focus more on serious crimes.

With the use of cameras, rather than minority drivers being targeted by police officers, all drivers would receive tickets in the mail when they run a red light or speed. Of course, if a driver happens to do this in front of an officer, it wouldn’t prevent them from being pulled over.

These cameras are already being used across the nation, although not widely. Roughly 153 jurisdictions in 17 states are currently using speed cameras (up from 111 in 2012). However, a third of them are in Maryland. And, unfortunately, the same adoption rate isn’t seen with red-light cameras. In 2012, there were 556 red-light cameras, and now there are only 340. Another 13 states have either partially or entirely outlawed speed cameras, and another eight states banned red-light cameras. 

There are studies showing speed cameras help to reduce crashes near the cameras, and that red-light cameras decrease the amount of red-light running. And while it’s great that these cameras can improve the way people drive, there’s a more pressing reason to get them — reducing racism in American policing. You know this is an issue when you have a Black U.S. Senator (Tim Scott) admitting to being pulled over seven times annually at the beginning of his political career. In many cases, it was because he was driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood. 

The only time racially-charged traffic stops are lower is at night, and that’s because it’s harder to see who’s driving. This is another reason why installing more traffic cameras can minimize the frequency of racist traffic stops. 

How You Can Help Bridge the Gap

Traffic cameras can significantly help the injustice minorities face with police officers. But there are other ways citizens can seek help with reducing racial disparities in auto insurance pricing. 

One way is to support bills like the one written by U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. This bill requests the federal authorities to investigate racial disparities in auto insurance premiums. This would include the collection of ZIP-code-level claims from around the country to determine whether insurers are overcharging minority communities. And if they are, then determine whether the higher rates are justified (like having a higher risk of bigger payouts in those neighborhoods). 

The proposal received praise from civil rights groups and should receive the support of the public. Although citizens aren’t included in the voting process for bills, you can still support it by writing a letter to your legislators. Be sure to reference the bill name and number in your letter, along with why you support it. Getting family, friends, and others in your community to do the same can help push legislators to vote in your favor. 

Another way to bridge the gap is to only do business with minority-owned insurance providers, or those that aim to eliminate racial biases. Also, reporting clear cases of discrimination against minorities can help build records of incidents that repeatedly occur for particular officers and departments. This way, when they are investigated, there’s mounting evidence of racist policing. 

Even police reform, which is gaining momentum amid the Black Lives Matter movement, can potentially reduce racial profiling during traffic stops. In this case, police departments would be stripped of extra resources, which would, in turn, reduce their contact with the public. As a result, it can minimize the racial profiling of drivers that can lead to auto insurance hikes for minorities. As an added benefit, these police funds would be reallocated to support people and services that help marginalized communities (education, homelessness, mental health, etc.). 

The Bottom Line

Police discrimination against minorities is a real and growing problem. As more research is performed and published for the public to view, it’ll only create more pressure for change. But it’s up to consumers and advocacy groups to demand it. 

This is possible by following up with legislators about bills aimed at eliminating racial profiling conducted by the police and privately-owned companies. By staying on top of the injustices minorities face and standing up for what’s right, the hope is that we will soon bridge the gap and make these problems disappear.


About the Author

Saphia Lanier is a freelance writer with 13 years of experience in SaaS, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. She specializes in writing informative, yet engaging content on technologies that enhance your business and marketing techniques to grow your online brand. When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard (or researching MarTech trends), she’s in the kitchen crafting delicious vegan recipes with her husband and children.


 

Mental Health Issues Facing the Black Community

Originally published on Sunshine Behavioral Health

“Racism is a public health crisis,” according to a May 2020 statement from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This means that racism — whether unintentional, unconsciously, or concealed — has affected Black Americans’ access to equal and “culturally competent” health care.

For example, it has been widely reported that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black Americans. According to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, the death rate for Black Americans nationwide is 2.5 times higher than the rate for white Americans: 67 per 100,000 vs. 26 per 100,000.

Employees of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a letter to their director alleging “widespread acts of racism and discrimination within CDC that are, in fact, undermining the agency’s core mission” that may have indirectly contributed to that disparity.

Just as some medical facilities have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — in people who are worried they might catch the virus or have been impacted by the lockdown and social isolation needed to control the pandemic — may, in turn, overwhelm the mental health system.

Racism is also a stressor for mental health problems.

How Racism Causes Mental Health Problems

In the U.S. surgeon general’s groundbreaking 2016 report Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, it states that Black Americans “are over-represented in populations that are particularly at risk for mental illness.”

Why? NAMI, “the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization,” says it’s because Black people in the United States have been affected by racism and racial trauma “repeatedly throughout history.”

That is, racism and racial trauma did not end with the abolition of slavery in 1865, the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the election of the first Black U.S. president in 2008. The protests in 2020 are a sharp reminder of that.

Mental illnesses such as depression and substance abuse can have a biological component, but they also can be caused or made more likely by external factors. Some are more likely to be experienced by Black individuals, including:

  • Violence
  • Incarceration
  • Involvement in the foster care system

Some other factors are peculiar to the Black Americans’ history, such as:

  • Enslavement
  • Oppression
  • Colonialism
  • Racism
  • Segregation

Encounters with Police

“Black Lives Matter” is viewed as a controversial statement, but it shouldn’t be. It does not mean that only Black lives matter or that other lives don’t matter. It means that Black lives also matter.

The controversy comes from the implication that the speaker thinks, based on the evidence, that not everyone agrees with that sentiment.

Take fatal police shootings. Analysis published by the Washington Post found that, in 2019, 55 unarmed individuals died due to police interaction. Of those, 25 or 45% were white, while 14 or 25% were Black. The rate for Black people remains about the same when extended to all 1,002 deaths: 250 or 25%.

However, Black people represented only 13.4% of the American population in 2019 (approximately 44 million) — almost one-sixth of the white population’s 76.3% (250 million) — according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

When only males are counted, the rate is even higher, according to a University of Michigan study, with Black men and youths 2.5 times as likely to die as white males.

On the other hand, that might be explained by the number of crimes committed by Black people. Black Americans were more likely to commit violent crimes than white Americans — 52% to 45%. More violent, crime, more violent interaction with the police.

Black people also face higher rates of nonlethal encounters with the police. An analysis of 2015 data by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that while police stopped white people more often than Black people, they were more likely to stop a higher percentage of Black people based on their population, including:

  • 9.8% vs. 8.6%: traffic stops – driver
  • 2.5% vs. 2.3%: traffic stops – passenger
  • 1.5% vs. 0.9%: street stops
  • 0.5% vs. 0.3%: arrests

Such police stops, and sometimes multiple stops, may create feelings of ill will towards the police, but the damage can be even more severe for mental well-being.

Feeling oppressed — by law enforcement, by employers, by politicians, by realtors — can lead to physical and mental health problems regardless of whether it is objectively true or is accepted by society at large.

Common Serious Mental Illnesses Among Black People

Among Black Americans with any mental illness, 22.4% or 1.1 million had a serious mental illness (SMI), according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): African Americans.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (HHSOMH), Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental illness (SMI) than the general population.

But other sources claim the rate of SMI is the same or even less for Black people. This seems odd, since poverty influences some SMIs, and Black Americans are more likely to experience poverty.

These results might be skewed, however, due to “culturally oblivious measurements.” There may be a communication barrier even among fellow English speakers from different cultures.

Depression

For example, experts say Black Americans sometimes talk about their depression in terms of physical aches and pains. If health care providers are not culturally competent about this form of expression, they might not realize this.

More than just the blues, depression is a serious mental illness and mood disorder characterized by extreme sadness and emptiness, a feeling that nothing matters or is worth doing.

Depression can increase the severity and risk of both physical and mental illnesses, according to the 2009 book Say It Loud! I’m Black and I’m Depressed, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) agrees. “The risk of developing some physical illnesses is higher in people with depression,”  and people with a medical illness or condition are more likely to have depression.

Among these risks are:

  • Cancers of the prostate, colon, and lungs
  • Heart disease or stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Drug abuse
  • Infectious diseases such as hepatitis B or C and HIV/AIDS

Types of depressive disorders include:

  • Major depressive disorder. Also known as clinical depression, this is depression that lasts for at least two weeks.
  • Persistent depressive disorder. Depression that lasts for at least two years.
  • Peripartum (or postpartum) depression. Depression lasting more than two weeks following the birth of a child.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). A particularly debilitating form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) causing deep depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Depression brought on by the waning hours of daylight in the fall and winter. 
  • Bipolar disorder. Formerly known as manic depression, this is depression that alternates with periods of mania or exuberance.
  • Psychotic depression. Depression accompanied by delusions and hallucinations of a depressive nature.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is normal and even helpful. One definition is “a heightened state of readiness” that alerts to and prepares for potential threats.

A diagnosis of anxiety disorder means the individual worries about things far more than is warranted. The worries are so intense that they interfere with the individual’s life and ability to function.

There are many types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Panic disorder. A sudden fear, as if one is going to die, accompanied by physical symptoms that may resemble a heart attack.
  • Phobias. A fear of some specific thing or situation, such as open or crowded spaces (agoraphobia), heights (acrophobia), or confined spaces (claustrophobia).
  • Separation anxiety disorder. Fear of separation from someone to whom one is close.
  • Social anxiety disorder. Fear of being judged or shunned by others.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder. When many things cause excessive or uncontrollable worry.

According to one study, the lifetime risk for generalized anxiety disorder is 8.6% for white Americans compared to just 4.9% of Black Americans. Another study concluded that Black Americans were 20% less at risk for any anxiety disorder in their lifetimes.

Suicide

Suicide is the act of causing one’s own death deliberately. While it is not a mental illness, it may occur because of mental illness.

For example, depression seems to increase the risk of suicide. As many as 60% of people who commit suicide had depression or bipolar disorder. Also, 7% of men and 1% of women with a lifelong history of depression eventually commit suicide.

Not that one has to be mentally ill to commit suicide. The goal of suicide is not death but to end suffering. Persecution, such as caused by racism, may be enough on its own.

According to the University of Michigan, suicide is the second most common cause of death among young Black men after accidental death (such as from drug overdose and motor vehicle traffic).

Younger persons who kill themselves often have a substance abuse disorder in addition to being depressed.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Trauma is most commonly associated with returning soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but besides combat, many things can cause trauma, including:

  • Being in or seeing an automobile accident
  • Rape
  • Domestic abuse
  • Violent crime

Watching the video of George Floyd with a police officer’s knee on his neck may also cause trauma or PTSD. So might the fear of experiencing a similar incident one’s self if stopped by the police.

While trauma causes biological or physiological changes to the individual, those changes may be passed along to future generations not just culturally or psychologically but genetically, through the DNA, just like physical characteristics.

This could help explain why changing laws and extending rights, creating a so-called level playing field, doesn’t solve the problem by itself.

Experiencing trauma can also cause ongoing problems with relationships and self-esteem.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black youth who are exposed to violence are more than 25% more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse or substance use disorder (SUD) is a form of mental illness and a physically dependent disease. Both mental illness and SUD are covered under the same “essential health benefits” provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

SUD is not a sign of weakness of character or a lack of morals. Some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. In those people, substance use is more likely to rewire the brain, hijacking the reward center, causing continued and increasing substance use.

In the 2018 NSDUH: African Americans, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 5.9 million or 17.8% of Black Americans had a mental disorder and/or substance use disorder.

The substances most often used and abused by Black Americans are:

  • Marijuana: 5.9 million
  • Alcohol: 1.2 million
  • Opioids: 1.2 million (including prescription fentanyl, hydrocodone/Vicodin/Norco, oxycodone/OxyContin/Percocet, and heroin)
  • Cocaine: 577,000
  • Hallucinogens: 474,000
  • Inhalants: 175,000
  • Methamphetamine (meth): 64,000

Substance use disorder and mental illness often co-occur, one causing or exacerbating the other. When this happens, it’s known as a dual diagnosis, comorbidity, or simply a co-occurring disorder.

Among Black Americans with a substance use disorder (SUD), more than two-thirds (67.6%) abuse alcohol, almost half (47.1%) abuse illicit drugs, and almost one-seventh (14.8%) abuse both.

Why Don’t More Black People Seek Mental Health Help?

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are less likely to have their mental health problems addressed than Americans as a whole: about 30% compared to 43%.

While most studies find about the same or less (depending on age) incidence of mental health problems among Black Americans, they are less likely to seek help for it. Only one-third of adult Black Americans who need mental health care receive it.

Reasons include:

  • Systemic racism. One psychotherapist calls it ”post-traumatic slave syndrome” (PTSS). Because slaves weren’t considered human, it was thought they couldn’t experience mental illness. Because of PTSS, descendants who have not directly experienced such discrimination may still feel the effects.
  • Financial considerations. In 2018, one analysis found that 11.5% of Black adult Americans had no health insurance despite the Affordable Care Act. That makes affording mental health services difficult.
  • Faith-based alternatives. In parts of the Black community, the church is more trusted than physicians and maybe with good cause. Black Americans who are members of a church or similar organization do have a lower suicide risk. Unfortunately, priests and ministers aren’t trained to treat or recognize mental illnesses by themselves. Professional help may still be needed.

Stigma

A big barrier might be that there is still a stigma or shame attached to needing mental health treatment, especially among the Black community, because people may believe that:

  • Mental illness is a sign of weakness or a personal failing. According to one study, 63% of Black Americans think that. Faith communities, despite their good points, can perpetuate or reinforce this attitude.
  • It might reflect poorly on their families. Many people still think the therapist’s go-to is to blame problems on their clients’ mothers and fathers.
  • Talking to a therapist is airing dirty laundry in public. Such problems should be addressed by the family or larger community, not strangers. Except they often don’t.

Removing this stigma — or at least disregarding it — is necessary to get more Black Americans into treatment that can improve their lives.

Among the ways to do this are:

  • Teaching people that the brain is like any other part of the body: sometimes it needs to be examined by a physician.
  • Replacing the idea that mental illness is a weakness with the idea that it takes strength to acknowledge a problem and to try to fix it.
  • Explaining how taking prescribed medication isn’t like drug abuse. Sometimes medications can restore normalcy in conjunction with therapies.

The Importance of Culturally Competent Care

One major way to remove stigma and racial barriers is to have more Black and culturally diverse physicians and psychotherapists. Not to meet affirmative action quotas, but because their existence improves trust and care.

A Black surgeon is more aware of and sensitive to concerns that a white surgeon might not be. A 2018 study by Stanford University found that Black men had much better medical results when their doctor was also Black.

There still is misinformation about Black bodies out there: that their skin is thicker or that they aren’t as sensitive to pain. A common background can dispel such faulty knowledge.

For example, a Black woman in North Carolina chose a Black cosmetic surgeon to remove some benign bone growths on her skull because he seemed more concerned about her and her wishes to minimize scarring and hair loss.

Due to his familiarity with natural Black hair, he also braided her locs (hair) for easy postoperative care. It was a small thing, but it improved the woman’s surgical experience.

Even when it’s not a matter of life or death, simple cultural sensitivity can help.

Finding Culturally Competent Mental Health Providers

Significant health care hurdles may include the lack of sufficient numbers of Black mental health care professionals, scientific studies specifically of Black people, and treatments tailored to their needs and preferences. Without such culturally competent care, misdiagnoses are more likely.

Unfortunately, a 2018 survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that of active doctors in the United States, only 5% identified as Black, as opposed to 56% who identified as white.

And the Association of Black Psychologists’ Therapist Resource Directory has no listings in 19 states (though that doesn’t mean there are no Black psychologists there).

If Black American clients can’t find a Black American doctor, they can look for one who is culturally competent. Ask them if they have treated other Black Americans or received cultural competence training for treating Black Americans. Then, ask yourself if they listened to and understood your concerns and treated you with dignity and respect.

Black Mental Health Resources

Here are some free or low-cost sources for mental health treatment of the Black community:

Here are some sources for culturally competent mental health providers:

Sources

  • nami.org – NAMI’s Statement on Recent Racist Incidents and Mental Health Resources for African Americans
  • pbs.org – How the stress of racism can harm your health—and what that has to do with Covid-19
  • npr.org – What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State by State?
  • npr.org – CDC Employees Call Out Agency’s ‘Toxic Culture of Racial Aggressions’
  • rollcall.com – Virus forebodes a mental health crisis
  • nami.org – Who We Are
  • columbiapsychiatry.org – Addressing Mental Health in the Black Community
  • washingtonpost.com– Giuliani Falsely Claims That Black People Kill More Police Than Vice Versa
  • cnn.com – Black communities account for disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths in the US, study finds
  • news.umich.edu – Police: Sixth-leading cause of death for young Black men
  • channel4.com – Do black Americans commit more crime?
  • bostonglobe.com – The statistical paradox of police killings
  • bjs.gov – Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2015 
  • nami.org – Black/African American
  • mayoclinic.org – Mood disorders
  • books.google.com – Say It Loud! I’m Black and I’m Depressed
  • nimh.nih.gov – Chronic Illness & Mental Health
  • webmd.com – Types of Depression
  • mentalhealth.org– Living with Anxiety
  • columbiadoctors.org – Anxiety Disorders
  • webmd.com– Anxiety Disorders
  • vice.com – Is Anxiety a White-People Thing?
  • hhs.gov– Does depression increase the risk for suicide?
  • pnas.org – Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race-ethnicity, and sex
  • mcleanhospital.org – Trauma and Dissociative Disorders Treatment
  • huffpost.com– This Is What Racial Trauma Does to the Body And Brain
  • dartmouth.edu – Dual Diagnosis: Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
  • samhsa.gov – 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: African Americans
  • webmd.com – African Americans Face Unique Mental Health Risks
  • webmd.com – Types of Mental Illness
  • instyle.com – 10 Free and Low-Cost Therapy Resources for Black People and People of Color
  • samhsa.gov – 2018 NSDUH Detailed Tables
  • health.state.mn.us – Legacy of Trauma: Context of the African American Existence
  • mcleanhospital.org – How Can We Break Mental Health Barriers in Communities of Color?
  • kff.org – Changes in Health Coverage by Race and Ethnicity Since the ACA, 2010-2018
  • usatoday.com – ‘We’re losing our kids’: Black youth suicide rate rising far faster than for whites; coronavirus, police violence deepen trauma
  • mhanational.org – Depression in Black Americans
  • abpsi.org – The Association of Black Psychologists – Therapist Resource Directory
  • yahoo.com – Woman who woke up from surgery with hair braided by doctor makes the case for more Black physicians: ‘It can save lives’

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov– Mental Health Care for African Americans (Chapter 3: Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity: A Supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General) 

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.


Airbnb while Black: How to avoid racism while traveling

 

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With domestic and global travel impacted by COVID-19, most Americans have been stuck indoors since early 2020. Once the world re-opens, the travel industry is expected to recover after its 48% decrease from the $1.1 trillion spent in 2019. 

While the travel industry has suffered as a result of COVID-19, the resilient Black Lives Matter movement has not allowed the pandemic to put its mission to end racial injustice and white supremacy on hold. And over the past year, many companies have chosen to join BLM in its fight, including the travel platform Airbnb. 

Despite Airbnb’s decision to support Black Lives Matter, a busy year of travel may have black travelers feeling uneasy about using Airbnb to book stays and host guests. And given its history of racial discrimination, this hesitance is not surprising. 

If 2021 becomes the year of travel, as predicted, how can black travelers with concerns of racial discrimination ensure they have safe travel experiences? 

This guide is designed to provide insight on Airbnb’s response to accusations of racial discrimination, alternative lodging options for black travelers and recommendations for the best credits cards to use to travel globally and domestically in a financially smart way.

Airbnb has faced criticism for allowing racist behavior on its platform. (Image by iStock)

Airbnb-ing While Black

If you’ve seen #AirbnbWhileBlack, then you are familiar with the social media movement born out of frustration, disappointment, and disgust with Airbnb’s inability to create a travel community that offers all travelers a safe, welcoming experience. 

In 2015, Airbnb came under scrutiny when Black hosts and renters reported incidents of racial discrimination. Complaints alleged that the images of Black users were the reason they did not receive bookings or were denied lodging by hosts. Airbnb itself was accused of only removing inactive accounts of Black users instead of all users with inactive accounts. 

Airbnb claims it removed 1.3 million people from its platform starting in 2016, but acknowledged that there is still work to be done to fight discrimination. Additionally, Airbnb teamed up with Color of Change to launch Project Lighthouse, a US initiative that will “uncover, measure, and overcome discrimination when booking or hosting on Airbnb.”

With the help of its anti-discrimination team, Airbnb now performs research on its platform to gather data to guide them in the development of tools and policies that allow it to offer Black travelers and hosts a safer experience when using the platform. 

Profile protection is said to encourage hosts to make objective decisions by keeping guest photos hidden until after their booking is confirmed. Additionally, the Instant Book feature allows guests to book a listing immediately, which keeps hosts from denying bookings. 

Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy, which all hosts must agree to, has also been updated, stating: 

“Airbnb hosts may not:

  • Decline a booking based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
  • Impose any different terms or conditions based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
  • Post any listing or make any statement that discourages or indicates a preference for or against any guest on account of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.”

Airbnb hosts are allowed to deny bookings but only in certain situations. For example, a booking can be denied if the guest has pets and books a rental where pets are not allowed. Hosts who violate or do not comply with these nondiscrimination policies face suspension from the platform. 

As of November 2020, close to 13.4% of issues Airbnb guests experienced were a result of unsafe or unpleasant conditions, including hosts who were hostile and/or intimidating. 

Alternatives to Airbnb 

For some, Airbnb’s effort to end discrimination on its platform may have come a little too late. However, this hasn’t limited Black travelers who continue to pour into the travel industry. Other travel platforms and communities have been carefully designed to provide Black travelers the safe, comfortable lodging experience they deserve. 

Noirbnb

Global travel community Noirbnb, which was created in 2015 by Stefan Grant, provides Black travelers with a safe travel experience. By offering travel accommodations without discrimination, Noirbnb has made it possible for Black travelers to feel safe, welcomed, and comfortable when traveling domestically and internationally.  Although Noirbnb caters to the Black traveler community, travelers of any race, culture, gender or religion can utilize this platform. 

NABHOOD

The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD), which was formed in 1998, works to create wealth within the Black community. Over the years, the number of African-Americans involved in developing, owning, managing and operating hotels has increased. If you’re interested in lodging at a Black-owned hotel within the US, you can review a list of NABHOOD hotels on the organization’s website to confirm hotel locations. 

Preparing for your travels 

If you have traveled before, then you know a lot goes into planning a trip. Between picking a destination, selecting your travel dates, and packing, a lot of time is spent making sure things go as planned. For Black travelers, preparing for travel requires a certain level of attention that isn’t required of everyone, specifically when it comes to safety and how to avoid incidents of racism and discrimination. 

Becoming part of a Black travel group within the community

You may want to see the world, but aren’t sure how to do so safely, Black travel groups are full of travelers who can share their knowledge and experiences and even travel together as a group to safe destinations where Black travelers are welcome. 

Research your destination

One of the exciting aspects of traveling is getting to experience something new. Whether you are traveling within the US or abroad, you will enter a space where you will interact with many different people, cultures and religions. Before you head out the door, research your destination. The information you gather will allow you to have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience. 

Know your travel goals

What are your travel goals? Do you want to travel once a month? Once a year? What do you want to see? As you determine your travel goals for the year, and those moving forward, it is important to acknowledge that your safety is a priority wherever you go. 

Get the best deals on your stay, regardless of what platform you go with

A more personalized stay makes guests feel welcome, but another thing Airbnb and other rental platforms offer is flexible pricing. According to iProperty Management, Airbnb rentals in certain US markets are between 6% and 17% cheaper than hotels

However, if you don’t find affordable lodging, that doesn’t mean you have to cancel your trip because there are still ways to travel and stay within budget

Referral codes

If you have friends who enjoy traveling, ask them about a referral code. When you are booking your trip, you can enter this code and get a discount after creating a new account. Lyft, for example, is one company that allows users to refer friends and family who want to save on their trips, specifically when they are in a new city and need to make their way from one destination to another. 

Airbnb offers referral codes too. Just ask a friend for their code and you can get up to $40 off on your first booking.

Negotiate with host

Airbnb and other rental platforms allow hosts to set the price for their homes. This means that you can negotiate the cost of lodging with potential hosts. To ensure their home is booked and they make money, hosts may drop the price. There is no guarantee they will agree to your request, but you could miss out on a good deal if you don’t ask. 

Use flexible dates and filters

Not only does the timing of your booking affect the cost, so does your date of travel. If airfare is cheaper on a Tuesday, but you were planning to leave on Wednesday, consider how much can be saved if you leave a day earlier. When booking, you can view the difference in prices based on the day and decide if your travel dates are flexible or firm. 

Use a travel credit card

The great thing about credit cards is that you can earn rewards for every purchase you make. If you have a travel credit card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, your rewards can be used to cover the cost of your trip, including airfare, car rental, and lodging. As an incentive, new cardholders can receive a large number of bonus miles when opening up a card and spending a specific amount during the promotional period. These welcome bonuses can sometimes be enough to cover the cost of an entire trip!

Bottom line

There is an appreciation for Airbnb and other companies that have chosen to stand in solidarity and address the issues of racial injustice and white supremacy. However, with #AirbnbWhileBlack still actively being used on social media by Black travelers who have put their trust in the company to provide them with a safe travel experience, there may still be questions regarding the effectiveness of Airbnb’s policies. 

As the fight against racial inequality continues, people are taking notice of how companies are responding, even if that response is silence. Are the companies you support doing their part to aid in the fight? 

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