Click here to go to the Home Page Women of Color are Being Extinguished Right Before Our Eyes - 74% African American and 75% Latina senior women over 65 cannot meet basic living expenses - Women of Color - By Suzanne Brooks - Columnist

Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article

Bookmark and Share

Every day, I send out news and information and write about the ongoing extermination of women of color. Mostly, but not only, I write to women of color because if we don’t organize, collaborate and develop a major, immediate effort to save ourselves, we will not be saved. I have been writing to hundreds, surely thousands, in the last few years. I started a petition to insist that the Census Bureau issue reports on the specific status of women of color, by group and age cohorts. I wrote and published the book, The Constructive Extermination of Women of Color: Consequences of Perpetual Socio-Economic Marginalization.

Less than 20 people have responded to the letters and postings in this period. Less than 10, including me, signed the petition to the Census Bureau. We are dying from every social-consequence and our deaths are not even adequately acknowledged by our own communities, including most women of color, let alone doing anything about this situation. It should be no surprise to anyone that people of color, especially African Americans, along with white poor and homeless of all colors are being widely murdered with murder victims being maligned and murderers being excused and unpunished.

As the Occupy movement has continued, they have been vilified so that even people they are advocating for are speaking out against them and in favor of those who are oppressing us all. Laws have been passed and signed to end civil rights and courts are upholding the idea that corporations are people with rights and people are not human and therefore have no rights to be informed about allegations of violating laws, or to have attorneys, warrants, hearings, trials or face accusers. Everyone can now be incarcerated indefinitely by the military under the authority of the president or executed without ever knowing why and without family, friends or the public having any information. We can just disappear without explanation. These new laws and policies apply to citizens and non-citizens alike inside the US and around the world. Last week it became unlawful to protest some of these actions.

A recent report by the Secretary of Defense indicated that 3000 women serving in the US Armed Forces were raped in 2009 by our own military members. Disproportionately, such rapes are women of color. Previously, reports and testimony to Congress documented that women in the Peace Corps have been raped for decades, refused help or medical and psychological treatment and put out of the organization if they complained. Similar treatment has been accorded women in the military. It has never been clear to me why so many men see war or military service as a reason to rape women, who are not the reasons for the wars nor are directing them or the governments represented by the military.

Also recently, a 64-year-old African American man with a heart condition, wearing a medical alarm which went off erroneously, received a visit by police, supposedly to see if he was OK at 5 AM while he was sleeping. He answered from inside his house that he was OK but was afraid to open the door (inexplicably, one of the police officers was in some kind of head to toe riot-type protective gear). So the police broke down his door, tazered him while he begged to know why, then shot and killed him - reminding of Amadou Diallou who was shot 40 times by police when he reached for his wallet after being asked for identification. Who is compiling the data on all of the deaths and assaults which are occurring and being excused?

Over and over again, people are being murdered with impunity, with no consequences to the murderers. The murders are justified by constitution-bearing politicians. When are people going to face that there has been no more democracy here than in Greece, where the term “democracy” was coined without including women, immigrants, or non-property / wealth-owning Greeks. The US Constitution has never been just to women, people of color - indigenous or immigrants - and is not just now. The recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding Troy Davis made clear that innocence, like justice, are not considerations for us. All that matters is that procedures are followed-procedures that are obviously unjust. Where is the justice in the justice system? It was not there in the Dred Scott Case in March 1857-155 years ago-and is not there now. In this case, the US Supreme Court declared that “all blacks - slaves as well as free - were not and could never become citizens of the United States.” To make matters worse, the court decided that the 1820 Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, thereby continuing the legality of slavery in all US territories.

Dred Scott v. Sanford concerned a slave who had lived in a free state and a free territory of the US, where slavery was illegal, before moving back to the slave state of Missouri. Dred Scott appealed to the Supreme Court for freedom based on these and other facts which he asserted had ended his condition of slavery. In the opinions of the Chief Supreme Court justice and 6 other justices, because Scott was black, he was not and could never be a citizen and had no right to sue. Theses justices wrote that the framers of the Constitution, or as they are often referred to still-”the forefathers of our nation” - believed that blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it.” Chief Justice Taney took note of the Declaration of Independence phrase, “all men are created equal” and stated that “...the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration...” The same conditions seem to exist today for African Americans and a host of others who are being denied justice. Though together we now are the majority of the nation, we have yet to attain citizenship. There is no such thing as partial citizenship. Either one has it or one doesn’t.

As the US suspends food aid to North Korea, threatens to attack Iran, refuses to leave Afghanistan and Iraq despite the will of their people, supports an assortment of dictators like the Saudis, and kills anyone who gets in the way, where is the outrage? What is the role of the religious communities? Where are the legions of activists, progressives, educators, environmentalists, civil/human rights advocates, people on any side with enough sense of human decency to speak out in opposition to what is taking place?

Thinking about what must lie ahead for us is horrifying, terrifying. Willie Lynch strategies are rampant so that there are people within the same and different ethnic groups denouncing each other. Younger generations are attacking older ones, hoping they will die and not collect Social Security and Medicare. Older generations are attacking younger ones whom they consider the cause of problems by the music they listen to and the clothes they wear, who they believe are mostly gang members, substance abusers, unwed mothers, baby daddies and undeserved users of food stamps and Medicaid. Too few in any of these groups have full factual information about each other or even adequate information about their own groups.

Meanwhile, issues like environmental racism are rarely mentioned, though the newly recommended and unsafe nuclear reactors are headed for minority populated areas and the old reactors, despite radiation leaks and other problems, are not being forced to shut down. Food and water, along with air, are widely contaminated, as is medicine. People are under surveillance through their cell phones, computers and televisions, with appliances like refrigerators and dish washers being developed to do the same. The absence of overwhelming, nationwide reaction to all of these events and circumstances, added to the denial of global warming and the insistence that creationism is equal to science, is equivalent to a conscious or unconscious mass death wish. The two million people who signed petitions insisting on justice for Trayvon are not enough. A hundred million and more must speak. Below is one more story about the problems.

Older Women Can’t Afford Basic Expenses, Study Finds *

Posted: 03/29/2012 6:15 pm  

Retired Women

Protestors demonstrate against cuts to federal safety net programs in Chicago.

Huffington Post - Doing Without: Economic Insecurity and Older Americans, No. 2: Gender | March, 2012

Every day, more of America’s older women reach retirement age - and then struggle to pay for the simplest things.

A new analysis of US Census Bureau data performed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) finds that 52% of elder-only households report incomes that do not cover basic, daily expenses. While the threat of economic insecurity affects elders of all backgrounds, it varies substantially by gender, race, age, household composition and other demographic characteristics. In order to assess the economic security of today’s older adults, WOW compared 2010 incomes for elders who live alone or with a partner to the US Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index for their household compositions and housing statuses. The Doing Without series presents findings from this analysis

Among all women in the United States, age 65 or older, living alone or with a spouse, 60 percent have trouble covering their monthly expenses such as food, housing and health care, according to research published Thursday by the nonprofit group Wider Opportunities for Women, based on an analysis of U.S. Census data.

It’s a problem that Donna Addkison, the president and chief executive of WOW, called “staggering.”

“We’re talking about what it takes to just simply cover the everyday necessities,” Addkison told The Huffington Post. “Older women are very quietly making decisions at home to split their pills in an attempt to stretch their medication. They’re choosing between having heat in the winter and having nutritious food on the table.”

The situation transcends geography, with “no states in the nation” that can be described as “a haven for older adults,” she said.

Indeed, with the economy the way it is, older women aren’t the only ones being forced to make these kinds of decisions. In post-recession America, deprivation is increasingly a way of life for millions.

With the jobless rate high and wages more or less holding steady, vast swaths of the population today are leading a precarious, savings-less existence, in which one financial emergency is all it would take to tip a family into poverty. Record numbers of Americans are now counted as poor, and the percentage of people who say they can’t afford food is at its highest level since the financial crisis.

Among all this, seniors face their own set of challenges, from rising health care bills to the growing industry of financial scammers who target elderly people.

More than 9 million people age 65 and older don’t have enough money to cover their basic costs, according to a separate WOW report published earlier this month.

And within that group, women are having a rougher time of it. While 60 percent of women are unable to pay for necessities, only 41 percent of men wrestle with the same problem, WOW calculated.

For women of color, the problem is more pronounced, according to WOW: While about 49 percent of older white women have trouble covering their basic costs, the rate for older Asian women is 61 percent, older African-American women 74 percent and older Hispanic women 75 percent.

“That goes beyond staggering,” said Addkison. “That becomes epidemic.”

This gender gap is the result of a lifetime of imbalances, Addkison told HuffPost.

Women earn less than men - the disparity varies by industry, but averages out to about 77 cents on the dollar. For college graduates, this pay gap tends to emerge within a year of their entering the workforce, and it only grows wider over time.

Ultimately, the result is that most women, compared with most men, have smaller Social Security benefits waiting for them when they reach the end of their working lives.

The roots of the disparity are so multiform that it’s hard to know how to begin fixing them.

At the state and federal level, Addkison said, policies that encourage pay equity would be welcome, as would efforts to protect safety-net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Looking at how young men and women make career choices - how students at high schools and community colleges separate themselves or become separated, onto different vocational paths, for example - could also contribute to an understanding of the pay gap, Addkison said.

It’s also important, she said, for working-age women to look at the statistics about widowhood and divorce and understand that they’re real possibilities.

“These are life events for which we have to plan,” Addkison told HuffPost. “At some point, we as women may be taking care of ourselves alone.”

Given the economic shockwaves of the past few years - the collapse of home equity, the spikes in unemployment - it seems likely that more retired women might find themselves financially challenged, Addkison said. “My suspicion is that things are certainly no better than they were five years ago, and have the potential to be much worse,” she said. “That doesn’t mean that we can’t do something about it. It just means that we have to start paying attention.” Columnist Suzanne Brooks is the founder and CEO of International Association for Women of Color Day and CEO of Justice 4 All Includes Women of Color. Click here to contact Ms. Brooks.

Bookmark and Share
Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article
Click here to go to a menu of the Contents of this Issue

e-Mail re-print notice
If you send us an emaill message we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold your name.

Thank you very much for your readership.

Apr 5, 2012 - Issue 466
is published every Thursday
Est. April 5, 2002
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble
BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?
Road Scholar - the world leader in educational travel for adults. Top ten travel destinations for African-Americans. Fascinating history, welcoming locals, astounding sights, hidden gems, mouth-watering food or all of the above - our list of the world’s top ten "must-see" learning destinations for African-Americans has a little something for everyone.