C. Nicole Mason Joins Essence Magazine Music Festival 'Empowerment Series'
On Saturday, July 2, C. Nicole Mason, executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network (WOCPN) at NYU Wagner, will travel to New Orleans to join Dr. Cornel West, Reverend Al Sharpton, Soledad O'Brien, and other thought leaders, scholars and civil rights trail blazers at Essence magazine's 2011 music festival. The "empowerment series" at this premier cultural event for African Americans attracts more than 10,000 people each day, bringing together dozens of expert speakers to discuss pressing policy issues affecting women of color, their families, and communities.
As part of a panel on the "State of Black Women," Mason will be sharing some of the challenges that Black women face, as well as opportunities that exist to build the economic security of communities of color. Consider the following:
• Black women hold the highest poverty rates of any group. Black women have a poverty rate of 26.5 percent - a rate more than double that of white women and nearly triple that of white men.
• For every dollar earned by white men, Black women earn just 61 cents.
• Nearly half of all Black women have zero or negative wealth.
• Black women have the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group, are 3 to 4 times likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, 15 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS, and face greater health disparities and access to care across the board.
• Less than 19 percent of Black women have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Though Black women and girls rank low or last on nearly every social indicator of well-being, we have also made tremendous strides that cannot go unrecognized. Over the last several decades, much has changed about the Black woman's experience in the home, on the job, and in society. From Oprah Winfrey to Ruth Simmons to the presence of Michelle Obama as the first Black First Lady of the United States, Black women, now more than ever, are blazing paths only imagined by their grandmothers or their mothers.
Mason will also be interviewed by CNN on Friday, July 1, at 12:30 pm EST; viewers can visit CNN.com shortly thereafter to join the conversation on how best to advance the social and economic well-being of all women of color and their families.