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$6 Million Donation to University of the Virgin Islands Will Create First Public HBCU Medical School

“The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient’s hopes are the physician’s secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription.” – Norman Cousins

The University of the Virgin Islands simply continues to impress. The HBCU that few people know or talk about as an HBCU keeps its head down and continues the vital work of African Diaspora building. In recent years, UVI has seen a meteoric rise into HBCU Money’s Top Ten HBCU Endowments seemingly out of nowhere. This time the University of the Virgin Islands leads once again showing the constitution of action and strategic planning with the creation of the HBCU Diaspora’s fifth medical school and first ever public medical school. The latter being long overdue.

While it would have been preferable that the medical school bear the name of a historical figure of African descent, Ianthe Blyden or Myrah Keating Smith, two Virgin Islander nurses who were renowned for their healthcare work. Instead, it appears the medical school will retain the name of its financial benefactor, Donald Sussman. Mr. Sussman, according to UVI’s press release, “the founder of Paloma Partners, was a member of the UVI Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2012.”

The public HBCU medical school’s importance can not be overstated. Public institutions represent a way for a group to extract their economic interest from an overall pool of funds that citizens pay into. In other words, Citizen A pays their taxes into an overall pool of taxes, politicians then decide how those funds will be disbursed to the public institutions representing the different interest of the citizenry. The problem that has plagued the interests of African Americans is that we pay into the system, but rarely have public institutions that are able to leverage pulling out funds from the pool to meet our social and economic needs. In this case, that social need is a vast investment in our health outcomes. UVI’s medical school will allow African Americans a significantly more affordable route to the community’s production of medical doctors and health professionals than can currently be offered by private institutions. That is because public institutions, through that tax pool, are able to subsidize the cost of the education they are providing. The lack of a public HBCU medical school has meant that many African American doctors are often forced to go after hospital positions that are well paid and more likely to cater to non-African American patients or medical facilities upon finishing medical school. Community health clinics become out of the question with six-figure student loan debts.

How dire is the situation for African American doctors and health professionals? Asian Americans have 1 doctor for every 117 people in its population, European Americans have 1 doctor for every 457 people in tis population, and African Americans have 1 doctor for every 914 people in its population. Institutionally speaking, there is only one African American owned hospital left as well, run and operated by Howard University.

There is an over 25 percent greater chance if you are African American ages 18-49 that you will not see a doctor because of costs to our white counterparts and a 50 percent chance if you are 50-64 that you will not see a doctor because of cost compared to our white counterparts according to statistics gathered by the American Community Survey from 2014. It is without a doubt that the COVID-19 Pandemic and Recession has probably only exacerbated those statistics. With other factors impacting African American health such as unemployment which means no insurance, poverty, no home ownership, and more, one could argue that African America has been in a health crisis and in order to stop the proverbial “bleeding” then we need to address a severe shortage in doctors and nurses coming from our community. The new medical school at UVI will go a long way in doing just that.

HBCUs medical schools, however, must connect themselves more strongly to HBCU undergraduate pipelines to ensure the best of the best from our institutions remain within our institutional ecosystem. It would not hurt to develop a Pre-K to Medical School strategy either. This means that HBCU alumni from all institutions must support more endowed scholarships at these HBCU medical schools for HBCU undergraduates looking to go to medical school. It also means that we can not rest simply on having one public HBCU medical school. We need others, expeditiously. The building of a global Pan-African health system that is centric to our needs is something we need more of – again, expeditiously. The creation of HBCU medical schools will go a long way into the formation of doing our part in accomplishing that. Let us hope it is not another 55 years before the next one is created, but for now let us celebrate and support the wonderful accomplishment of our brothers and sisters at University of the Virgin Islands.

African America’s January 2021 Jobs Report – 9.2%

OVERALL UNEMPLOYMENT: 6.3% (6.7%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN: 9.2% (9.9%)

LATINO AMERICAN: 8.6% (9.3%)

EUROPEAN AMERICAN: 5.7% (6.0%)

ASIAN AMERICAN: 6.6% (5.9%)

Previous month in parentheses.

Analysis: African and Latino Americans saw a 70 basis point decline to lead all groups. Asian Americans had the worst increase among all groups with an increase of 70 basis points. Marginal movements of 30 basis points decrease by European Americans.

AFRICAN AMERICAN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BY GENDER & AGE

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN: 9.4% (10.4%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: 8.5% (8.4%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN TEENAGE: 17.3% (25.2%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN PARTICIPATION BY GENDER & AGE

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN: 66.1% (65.2%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: 59.8% (59.5%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN TEENAGE: 29.3% (31.0%)

Analysis: African American Men saw a decline in their unemployment rate by 100 basis points. African American Women saw a margin uptick of 10 basis points. African American Teenage Group saw an acute drop of 790 basis points. Participation rates for Teenage Group declined by 170 basis points, African American Men increased by 90 basis points, and African American Women saw an increase 30 basis points.

African American Men-Women Job Gap: African American Women currently have 806,000 more jobs than African American Men in January. This is a decrease from 973,000 in December.

CONCLUSION: The overall economy added 49,000 jobs in January. African America added 262,000 jobs in January or 534 percent of the overall jobs added. “African American Men were the bulk of those jobs accounting for 77.4 percent. A major headway into the continued closing of the employment gap between African American men and women will have profound social, economic, and community implications,” William A. Foster, IV, chief economist for HBCU Money said. Per Yahoo Finance, “Hiring will pick up as restrictions are relaxed but gains will be stronger once the economy can fully reopen,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, said in an email Friday. “Until then, generous fiscal support will provide a safety net for households and businesses.”

$25 Billion In Rental Assistance Is Coming To All 50 States – How To Apply

CNBC today released an article highlighting ways for people to go about gaining rental assistance as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Wealth Management reports that currently there is $70 billion outstanding in multifamily rents alone, not including single family rentals and others.

Some highlights from the CNBC article:

By one estimate, 14 million Americans are behind on their rent during the crisis.

To qualify for the assistance, at least one member of your household has to have lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the pandemic, or be eligible for unemployment benefits.

States will have the funds by Jan. 26.

“Renters should contact local housing groups, their representatives or the local 211/311 lines to identify programs and learn how to apply,” she added.

Renters can get help with up to 12 months of back rent and utility bills, and potentially another three months of support if there’s still money available. In some cases, you can get funds to cover future rent payments, but only if there’s a plan to address any debts first.

Last, if your landlord ignores any of these rules, as some are doing, get a lawyer. You can find low-cost or free legal help with an eviction in your state at Lawhelp.org.

It goes without saying that African Americans are disproportionately suffering during this pandemic economically. African Americans comprise 28 percent of the 14 million renters who are facing rental hardship despite only being 12 percent of the U.S. population. There should be close monitoring of rental assistance to the African American community after many African American business owners were largely left out of the PPP programs and funds. HBCUs both urban and rural should be using any and all means at their disposal to assist in helping stabilize African American families in their sphere and beyond if possible. A work study program specifically designed to help families apply for assistance could be created in the short-term with a call to alumni to raise the funds to both paying for students work study as well as provide some community assistance to African American families as well.

African America’s December 2020 Jobs Report – 9.9%

OVERALL UNEMPLOYMENT: 6.7% (6.7%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN: 9.9% (10.3%)

LATINO AMERICAN: 9.3% (8.4%)

EUROPEAN AMERICAN: 6.0% (5.9%)

ASIAN AMERICAN: 5.9% (6.7%)

Previous month in parentheses.

Analysis: Asian Americans saw a 80 basis point decline to lead all groups. Latinos had the worst increase among all groups with an increase in 90 basis points. Marginal movements of 40 basis points decrease by African America and 10 basis point increase for European America.

AFRICAN AMERICAN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BY GENDER & AGE

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN: 10.4% (11.2%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: 8.4% (9.0%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN TEENAGE: 25.2% (17.4%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN PARTICIPATION BY GENDER & AGE

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN: 65.2% (65.2%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: 59.5% (60.4%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN TEENAGE: 31.0% (29.3%)

Analysis: African American Men and Women groups saw declines in their unemployment rate, led by the African American Men group declining by 80 basis points. African American Teenage Group saw an acute spike of 780 basis points. Participation rates for Teenage Group increased by 170 basis points, African American Men went unchanged, and African American Women saw a substantive 90 basis point drop.

African American Men-Women Job Gap: African American women currently have 973,000 more jobs than African American men in December. This is a decrease from 1,062,000 in November.

CONCLUSION: The overall economy lost 140,000 million jobs in December. African America lost 26,000 jobs in December or 18.5 percent of the overall jobs lost. From Yahoo Finance, “And of course, a lack of job opportunities—as there are nearly 10 million fewer jobs today than back in February— has also contributed to millions of workers remaining on the sidelines of the labor market,” economist Jay Bryson said.

African America’s November 2020 Jobs Report – 10.3%

OVERALL UNEMPLOYMENT: 6.7% (6.9%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN: 10.3% (10.8%)

LATINO AMERICAN: 8.4% (8.8%)

EUROPEAN AMERICAN: 5.9% (6.0%)

ASIAN AMERICAN: 6.7% (7.6%)

Previous month in parentheses.

Analysis: For a second straight month all groups saw drops in their unemployment rates, led by Asian America’s 90 basis point decrease. European Americans had second smallest decrease, with unemployment dropping 10 basis points.

AFRICAN AMERICAN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BY GENDER & AGE

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN: 11.2% (11.5%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: 9.0% (9.2%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN TEENAGE: 17.4% (23.6%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN PARTICIPATION BY GENDER & AGE

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN: 65.2% (65.4%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: 60.6% (60.1%)

AFRICAN AMERICAN TEENAGE: 29.0% (30.3%)

Analysis: All three African American groups saw declines in their unemployment rate, led by a major movement by the African American Teenage group declining by 590 basis points. Participation rates for Men and Teenage both decreased, but the Teenage group saw a 430 basis point decline which represents a five-month low. African American Women saw a participation rate improvement of 50 basis points in November.

African American Men-Women Job Gap: African American women currently have 1,062,000 more jobs than African American men in November. This is a decrease from 1,075,000 in October.

CONCLUSION: The overall economy added 245,000 million jobs in November. African America added 136,000 jobs in November or 55.5 percent of the overall jobs. From Yahoo Finance, “The U.S. economy still has a ways to go before fully making up for the drop in payrolls induced by the pandemic. Even with a seventh straight month of net job gains, the economy remains about 9.8 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level in February. The U.S. economy lost more than 22 million jobs between March and April.”