Tuesday, January 15, 2013

African-Americans from the New Deal Era

Exhibit: Rare photos of African-Americans from the New Deal Era


DATE: 4-5 p.m. Jan. 17 (panel); Jan. 17-Feb. 22 (exhibit)

EVENT: University of Michigan faculty members Sara Blair and Joshua Miller will take part in a panel discussion that kicks off the month-long exhibit "Claiming Citizenship: African Americans and New Deal Photography."

The exhibit of photographs illustrate how African-Americans took opportunities opened up by government programs in the 1930s to claim their status as dignified persons and citizens, in some respects laying foundations for the Civil Rights Movement.

PLACE: Lane Hall Gallery, 204 S. State St., Ann Arbor. Central Campus map: campusinfo.umich.edu/article/central-campus-map

SPONSORS: Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Department of Women's Studies, LSA Understanding Race Theme Semester, Institute for the Humanities, Center for the Education of Women, Rackham Graduate School, and the departments of History, History of Art, English Language and Literature, Afroamerican and African Studies, and American Culture.

INFORMATION: irwg.research.umich.edu/events/exhibitions

African-Americans from the New Deal Era

South Bend, Indiana. WPA Negro Recreation Trio (regular WSBT and WFAM broadcasts). National Archives, Washington, D.C., 16779-C

Published on Jan 15, 2013 Contact: Jared Wadley

Thursday, January 10, 2013

All-white jury pools in Florida convicted black defendants 16 percent more often than white defendants

All-white jury pools in Florida convicted black defendants 16 percent more often than white defendants

Study: All-White Jury Pools Convict Black Defendants 16 Percent More Often Than Whites

Duke-led researchers examined more than 700 non-capital felony criminal cases in two Florida counties from 2000-2010

Durham, NC - Juries formed from all-white jury pools in Florida convicted black defendants 16 percent more often than white defendants, a gap that was nearly eliminated when at least one member of the jury pool was black, according to a Duke University-led study.

The researchers examined more than 700 non-capital felony criminal cases in Sarasota and Lake counties from 2000-2010 and looked at the effects of the age, race and gender of jury pools on conviction rates.

all-white jury poolsThe jury pool typically consisted of 27 members selected from eligible residents in the two counties. From this group, attorneys chose six seated jurors plus alternates.

"I think this is the first strong and convincing evidence that the racial composition of the jury pool actually has a major effect on trial outcomes," said senior author Patrick Bayer, chairman of Duke's Economics Department.

"Our Sixth Amendment right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury of our peers is a bedrock of the criminal justice system in the U.S., and yet, despite the importance of that right, there's been very little systematic analysis of how the composition of juries actually affects trial outcomes, how the rules that we have in place for selecting juries impact those outcomes," Bayer said.

The study, posted Tuesday on the Quarterly Journal of Economics (http://www.oxfordjournals.org/page/4595/1), focused on how conviction rates varied with the composition of the jury pool, which is randomly determined by which eligible residents are called for jury duty that day.

"The idea is to treat the jury pool as a natural experiment -- some defendants randomly draw a jury pool that includes some black members while others face a jury seated from an all-white jury pool," Bayer said.

Among the key findings:
-- In cases with no blacks in the jury pool, blacks were convicted 81 percent of the time, and whites were convicted 66 percent of the time. The estimated difference in conviction rates rises to 16 percent when the authors controlled for the age and gender of the jury and the year and county in which the trial took place.

-- When the jury pool included at least one black person, the conviction rates were nearly identical: 71 percent for black defendants, 73 percent for whites.

-- About 40 percent of the jury pools they examined had no black members and most of the others had one or two black members.

-- When blacks were in the jury pool, they were slightly more likely to be seated on a jury than whites. The eligible jury population in these counties was less than 5 percent black.

Bayer said they chose data from Sarasota and Lake counties because these jurisdictions provide more detailed information from court trials than do most other jurisdictions throughout the country.

The researchers said they wanted to know how the racial make-up of a jury pool affects the outcome of a trial because existing empirical literature on the subject was "sparse" and subject to a number of limitations. They also cited anecdotal evidence from trials that has raised questions about fairness, and noted the proportion of incarcerated blacks is almost four times the proportion of blacks in the general population.

Studies based on experimental evidence from "mock" trials are limited in part because the stakes are far lower than for real trials, they said. Studies that examine the correlation of a seated jury's race and related trial results are problematic because seated jurors are not selected at random from a set of people on the jury pool, they said.

In most criminal trials in the United States, prosecutors and defense attorneys can exclude potential jurors without explanation through a process called peremptory challenge. So even if the initial jury pool is randomly drawn, the nature of the charges, the evidence and the attributes of the defendant can all influence the composition of the seated jury.

Excluding potential jurors based on race is illegal; Bayer said the data they examined did not show any misconduct by attorneys. The findings imply that the application of criminal justice is "highly uneven," Bayer said, because conviction rates vary substantially with random variation in the racial composition of the jury pool.

"Simply put, the luck of the draw on the racial composition of the jury pool has a lot to do with whether someone is convicted and that raises obvious concerns about the fairness of our criminal justice system," Bayer said.

"I think our study points to the need for a lot more analysis, and a lot more transparency in collecting data and analyzing it in jurisdictions throughout the country," Bayer said.

Other researchers for the study, "The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," were Shamena Anwar, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and Randi Hjalmarsson, an associate professor of economics at Queen Mary, University of London.

More Information Duke Today Contact: Steve Hartsoe. Affiliation: News and Communications Phone: (919) 681-4515. Email: steve.hartsoe@duke.edu

CITATION: "The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," senior author Patrick Bayer, Duke University; Shamena Anwar, Carnegie Mellon University; Randi Hjalmarsson, Queen Mary, University of London. Quarterly Journal of Economics, online April 17, 2012, print in May 2012; DOI number 0.1093/QJE/QJS014.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lead exposure rates among African-American and Hispanic children roughly double those of white children

Lead exposure rates among African-American and Hispanic children roughly double those of white children. LEAD EXPOSURE LOWERS FOURTH GRADERS' TEST SCORES

MADISON - Lead exposure is related to lower test scores among Wisconsin fourth graders, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"What we find is that even low amounts of lead exposure during early development have direct, measurable, negative consequences for children's school performance later in life," says Mike Amato, a doctoral candidate in psychology and environmental studies and one of the authors of the study, recently published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.

Students in Milwaukee Public Schools were included in the study, which was coordinated by researchers at UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Cadentown Rosenwald School

Cadentown Rosenwald School, Caden Lane, Lexington, Fayette County, KY
Researchers matched medical records of children who had been tested for lead exposure with their school records. Even after controlling for differences in test scores due to poverty, gender, English proficiency and other factors, children who had been exposed to lead scored lower on each subject of the fourth grade Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE), which measures student competence in reading, math and other basic subjects.

The study found that environmental lead exposure, usually occurring from contaminated dust and soil around older homes, poses a significant challenge to schools striving to meet WKCE standards.

"There's a lot of discussion about what schools should do to increase educational proficiency," says Marty Kanarek, a professor of population health sciences affiliated with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. "It's a very complex issue with multiple causes, but lead exposure is part of the equation."

The most common source of lead exposure is contaminated dust from paint in older homes, according to Amato. "Children exposed to moderate amounts of lead often do not show immediate symptoms," he explains. "However, our study suggests that effects can last long after the initial exposure and have a measurable impact on test scores."

The study also found that lead exposure rates among African-American and Hispanic children were roughly double those of white children. Kanarek says lead exposure in children is a matter of social justice.

"Students who have been exposed to lead are at a considerable disadvantage the first day they show up at school, before they've even met a teacher," says Kanarek. "Lead exposure decreases cognitive ability in all children regardless of race, but the fact that African-American and Hispanic students were twice as likely as white students to be exposed suggests part of the racial achievement gap may be directly due to lead in the environment. If that's true, then educational reforms alone will not eliminate the problem. We need to clean up contaminated housing."

For more information on childhood lead exposure and how to prevent it, Wisconsin residents should contact the Department of Health Services Wisconsin Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 608-266-5817 or visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/lead.


University of Wisconsin-Madison. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/8/13 Contact: Marty Kanarek, 608-263-1626, mkanarek@wisc.edu; Mike Amato, 617-538-7270, amato@wisc.edu - Steve Pomplun, 608-263-3063, spomplun@wisc.edu

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale keynote speaker 44th annual IUPUI Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner

Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale keynote speaker 44th annual IUPUI Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The 44th annual Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner takes place at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis. This year’s theme is “To live as brothers, or perish as fools.”

Bobby Seale, who co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966, is the keynote speaker for this year’s dinner. As an activist in the 1960s and 1970s, Seale’s causes included better social services in black neighborhoods. Today, defining himself as a “revolutionary humanist,” the charismatic speaker calls for a society of greater direct community democracy complete with cyberspace activism and demonstrates how civil rights issues are interconnected and interrelated with environmental problems and global economics. Seale’s books include "Seize the Time," and "A Lonely Rage."

Bobby Seale

Bobby Seale at Binghamton University, February 25, 2006
“For the past 43 years, the IUPUI Black Student Union has sponsored the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner, one of the largest events on IUPUI’s campus," said Meaghan Banks, president of the IUPUI Black Student Union. "This year, we will continue that tradition, and we invite the Indianapolis community to join us for an evening of empowerment and celebration in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy.”

The annual King celebration dinner is presented by the Black Student Union with the support of the IUPUI Office of Student Involvement. In addition to the keynote address, the annual dinner includes an award ceremony honoring campus and community recipients for service reflective of King’s dream of social justice and equality.

Individual tickets for the dinner, on sale at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd., Suite 370, are $25 for IUPUI undergraduate and graduate students; $65 for IUPUI faculty and staff; and $75 for community guests.

Sponsorship packages are also available at $1,000 for 20 tickets; $850 for 15 tickets; and $425 for 10 tickets.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis For additional information, call the Office of Student Involvement at 317-274-3931 or contact Meaghan Banks at meagbank@iupui.edu.

Image Credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sleep Study in African-Americans seeks connections to heart disease, stroke

Sleep Study in African-Americans seeks connections to heart disease, stroke

JACKSON, Miss. – A sleep study by University of Mississippi Medical Center researchers beginning next week in up to 1,200 African-Americans promises to deepen knowledge about how sleep disorders may contribute to cardiovascular and other diseases.

It could also connect ancient Hindu philosophy on stages of sleep with modern physiology.

At seven to eight hours a day, sleep is a major activity of daily life. The average person sleeps 2,500 to 2,900 hours a year. In an average 79-year lifetime, that’s as many as 26 years.

“We never think about it. We go to bed, every day we get up and we don’t think about those 26 years,” said Dr. Tandaw Samdarshi, associate professor of cardiology and principal investigator of the study. “With this study, we will see what the effects of sleep are.”

Dr. Tandaw SamdarshiThis summer, Samdarshi received a four-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to fund the study. His team completed a pilot study in 2010, making way for this larger investigation titled Sleep Disordered Breathing and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke in the Jackson Heart Study.

At-home recordings taken by study participants will show researchers the quality and quantity of the individual’s sleep. Samdarshi and his team also plan to study how physical activity and environmental factors such as noise, pollution and temperature affect sleep. He plans to start gathering data from the first participants next week.

Ultimately, the team hopes the findings can reduce the public burden of heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions. And perhaps identify how to get more from the years spent asleep.

Looking into ancient knowledge of sleep’s health benefits, Samdarshi points to the Upanishads, ancient Indian texts. They contain descriptions of sleep in four stages of consciousness: jagrata, or waking consciousness; svapna, or dreaming; deep sleep known as susupti; and turiya, an experience of pure consciousness.

“You are supposed to strive for that last stage,” Samdarshi said. “You must have a strong will and meditate. This is where you can connect with the higher power.”

Modern medicine is able to link the increased risk for diseases, such as hypertension, cancer, depression and diabetes, to problems with sleep. Thanks to the understanding of sleep disorders as a public health issue in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased its surveillance of sleep-related behaviors.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, an independent non-profit organization, reports 50-70 million U.S. adults have some sleep or wakefulness disorder. Alcohol, fatigue, stress and other factors can contribute to lack of sleep, as can the round-the-clock nature of technology.

“So we want to ask, what physiological changes happen when you are sleep deprived? We know your cortisol levels go up, your blood ghrelin levels go up, and we know that REM sleep burns more energy, about 300 calories a night,” Samdarshi said. The hormone ghrelin increases appetite and is secreted by the stomach and pancreas.

Of the 20 JHS participants in the 2010 pilot study, 17.6 percent experienced moderate sleep-disordered breathing and 65 percent showed some degree of sleep disorder.

For the main study, the researchers hope to enroll 1,200 people of all ages from the JHS cohort. Participants will fill out questionnaires and use a monitoring device at home, called an embletta, to take recordings during sleep.

“We will get almost the same amount of data, save for EEG and ocular data, that we would if we observed them in a sleep lab,” Samdarshi said.

The researchers will analyze blood samples for hemoglobin A1C, the inflammation marker Interleukin 6 and fasting glucose.

The investigation marks the largest sleep study in an African-American cohort, Samdarshi said. Dr. Herman Taylor, professor of cardiology and JHS principal investigator, said Samdarshi’s work is on the vanguard of the type of investigations the JHS aims to stimulate.

“Looking into sleep is critical,” Taylor said. “Disorders of sleep have gained a lot interest as a genesis area for many types of cardiovascular diseases. This study will help shed new light on that topic.

“We do know that a shallower nocturnal dip in blood pressure can lead to kidney dysfunction, enlargement of the heart and other problems. It’s not a leap to hypothesize that sleep and blood-pressure dipping are connected. And that poor sleep is probably a significant risk factor for cardiovascular dysfunction.”

According to Taylor, as one of several large, federally funded investigations to spin off of the JHS, the sleep study is one more example of JHS realizing its full potential and driving forward innovative research.

Media Contact: Jack Mazurak at 601-984-1970 or jmazurak@umc.edu.