Photo: Willie B. Thomas via Getty Images
  /  07.17.2023

Friday’s (July 14) episode of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” provided an assortment of updates relevant to Black culture. Up first was the killing of Ajike “AJ” Owens by her “Karen” neighbor, including words from the late Black mother herself. There was also an in-depth look at the Supreme Court’s attack on affirmative action, chemical hair relaxers potentially killing Black women, and “How to secure the bag” when it comes to gaining financial freedom. Global news anchor Mara S. Campo helmed another informative episode covering topics mainstream media outlets were busy ignoring.

“RBN” obtained newly released bodycam footage that showed Owens describing her fear of Susan Lorincz, the white woman who would gun her down brutally a year later. Numerous neighbors confirmed the deplorable, racist behavior that would brand Lorincz the neighborhood Karen. While Lorincz would incessantly call the cops, during an arraignment this week, she was a no show. Instead, she entered a written plea of not guilty, via her attorney.

Speaking of the judicial system, the Supreme Court ended its latest term with a ruling that essentially gutted affirmative action. The court banned both public and private colleges and universities from giving Black students extra consideration during the admissions process. The rub is most universities are not hitting their diversity targets. Black people reportedly make up 13 percent of the population of the United States, but only 6 percent of top-tier universities. Nevertheless, one of the proponents of the ruling was Justice Clarence Thomas, who called affirmative action “rudderless race-based preferences” in his opinion, despite reportedly benefitting from equal opportunity measures and affirmative action himself.

Unfortunately, Thomas looks at affirmative action as an affront, rather than a correction of the country’s problematic past. “Affirmative action means removing the barriers for qualified students,” said attorney Joy Wright. “So, it has always been about the student is qualified to get into the institution — they meet all the requirements, and then race is one of the factors that is considered among the other factors.”

The irony is that affirmative action will still continue since only race is banned in considering admission. That means factors like geography, financial aid and legacy are still on the table. The SCOTUS didn’t take issue with those spots, so legacy preferences remain intact, a factor that overwhelmingly benefits white people. It seems highly preferential, and it’s clear why. Consider this — many of these institutions of higher learning didn’t even begin admitting Black students until the ’50s, and that was only because federal courts forced them to. What will the SCOTUS roll back next?

Switching gears, “RBN” broke down whether or not chemical hair relaxers are killing Black women. Unfortunately, cancer-causing agents may be in the beauty routines of millions. Although demand for relaxers has dropped as more Black women have been embracing their curls, the product is possibly making a comeback, and it could be a major cause for health concerns since research suggests relaxers can lead to cancer and uterine fibroids. Jenny Mitchell got her first relaxer at 8 years old with touch-ups every few months for 20 years. At 28, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. “I am the first voice of many voices to come,” said Mitchell, who is now suing relaxer manufacturers like L’Oréal and Soft Sheen, claiming their products are full of cancer-causing chemicals. “Stand up to these companies and say no more,” she added.

In her class-action lawsuit, Mitchell claimed her cancer was caused by “regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals” found in the defendants’ hair care products. Besides uterine cancer, according to a Black woman’s health study, uterine fibroids are also linked to relaxers. The hair straighteners are believed to have endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that can bind to parts of your body — like your breast or uterus — that make you more likely to develop cancer. Nearly 80 percent of Black women will end up with fibroids, and it is believed the same endocrine disruptors in hair straighteners promote the growth of these tumors.

But despite sales of relaxers in the Black hair care industry reportedly dropping 26.2 percent between 2010 and 2017, half of Black women still use them. Add Black women feeling they need to wear their hair straight in a job interview to be successful, and the struggles are clear as day. Many continue to join the class-action lawsuit while Black congresswomen like Ayana Pressley of Massachusetts have asked the FDA to fully evaluate the safety of chemical relaxers.

More informational content from “RBN” included REVOLT business correspondent Akilah Ffriend spotlighting what Black people need to do to close the wealth gap and raise the community’s financial IQ. Ffriend spoke with real estate investor and developer Benaisha Poole Watson, who shared a ton of insight on how to build wealth and keep it.

Be sure to watch new episodes of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” every Friday at 5 p.m. ET via REVOLT’s app. Plus, tune into a quick clip below.

Are Relaxers Killing Black Women?

Are Relaxers Killing Black Women?




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