Nurturing our Future as African American Females: A Courageous Conversation



African American women act as the foundations of the African American community and are the stewards of African American culture. African American FemalesThe conditions affecting African American females in schools and society are highly complex and astonishingly problematic. Challenges that lie ahead for African American girls include crime, poverty, negative images, poor self-esteem, and peer pressure. Unemployment rates for young African American women are higher than females or males of all racial backgrounds. African American women now have the country’s fastest-rising incarceration rate. Inequities raise barriers to educational excellence as dropout rates, average achievement test scores, graduation rates, teen-pregnancy rates and expulsion rates all reflect school failure. These areas of concern adversely affect the quality of life for African American females in urban and near urban enclaves of the State of Michigan and across the country. There is a need for critical dialogue among key stakeholders with an eye toward impacting policy and practice. The proposed educational conference will provide a unique forum for school and community leaders to consider the issues and impact policy and practice.

Life expectancy at birth for African American females may be 75 years compared to 80 years for White females but African American women face a four times higher risk of dying before the age of 60 of either heart disease or stroke than White women. The leading causes of death for African American women are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease. AIDS is the fourth-leading cause of death among women in this country between the ages of 25 and 44, and is the leading cause of death among African American women ages 25 to 34. Over a million Americans are living with HIV today – nearly half of them are African American females. African American women are less likely to receive medical care, and when they do receive it, are more likely to receive it late.

Given the size and scope of the dilemmas in Michigan, this educational conference is warranted and acutely needed. In short, the average metropolitan African American female will never retire or collect social security benefits. Similar outcomes are seen throughout the State wherever there are disproportionate pockets of African Americans. There are a myriad of historical and causal factors proffered to explain the conditions. However, there is a need to develop ways to help African American females by developing policies, programs and services that ensure their needs are being understood and fully met. There is a need to move beyond problem identification elements to begin considering solution elements in the form of educational imperatives and initiatives to positively affect the African American communities of the State.

EMU Student CenterNurturing our Future as African American Females: A Courageous Conversation takes place Friday, September 26th, 2008 at Eastern Michigan University’s New Student Center from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM with reception to follow until 6:00 PM.  Approximately 350 participants will engage in a one-day dialogue focused on a multitude of issues impacting African American females in school and society. The conference will include a diverse group of persons, by race and gender, who have the knowledge and skills that will affect changes in policy and practice. Session topics include:

  • P-12 Education
  • Higher Education
  • Technology
  • Family/Parenting
  • Spirituality
  • Leadership
  • Health
  • Social/Emotional Issues
  • Community Based Programs

Attendees will choose individual sessions of interest, which will be followed by interactive discussions lead by an expert facilitator. Audience and presenter discussions will focus on identified issues facing African American females and will help formulate recommendations for policies and initiatives. Each facilitator brings a high level of knowledge, expertise, and experience to the discussions. Participants are encouraged to read the commissioned papers (in areas of interest to them) written by experts on the identified issues prior to the African American Females Conference. To register for the conference, click HERE.

To ensure the success and on going work of the conference, commissioned papers are being provided, focusing on specific issues. These papers serve as points of departure for the various discussions that will be addressed during the conference. Leading scholars who have demonstrated expertise in the designated focus areas were commissioned to prepare these papers free from academic jargon and colloquialism, deeming each paper useful for a diverse audience. Commissioned papers address the nature of the issues from a national and state context as well as recommendations for policy and practice. Click HERE to read commissioned papers.

Top of Page

Eastern Michigan University College of Education