State Sets Up Clinics In NYCHA Buildings To Encourage More Black New Yorkers To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

In an effort to set up clinics in communities hit hard by COVID-19 and foster equity and trust in the medical system, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the state will establish more vaccination sites at several additional churches and NYCHA public housing complexes this week.

The sites at the NYCHA buildings will serve eligible residents of those complexes. Those news sites are the Randall Avenue-Balcom Avenue Housing complex and the Union Avenue-East 163rd Street Housing complex in the Bronx, and the William Reid Houses and Vandalia Avenue Housing complex in Brooklyn.

Two churches are also going to operate vaccination clinics this upcoming Tuesday only: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the Bronx and Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn, which are located in predominately Black neighborhods. The church clinic appointments will be scheduled independently by each individual church, according to the state.

The sites were selected to operate in neighborhoods that were heavily affected by COVID-19, Cuomo said at a press conference at the William Reid Houses Saturday. He urged residents to avail themselves of the vaccine.

“Take the vaccine. It will save lives and it can save your life. We know Blacks have a higher infection rate. We know they’re more essential workers. They’re more exposed to it,” he said. “Please take the vaccine. We’ll make it accessible, but we need you to accept it, and that’s what we’re here to do today.”

A December survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 42% of Black Americans were willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to FiveThirtyEight, with “experts (saying) there is long-standing mistreatment of Black Americans in U.S. health care research and lingering suspicion from that mistreatment about how the American health care system treats them.”

The new neighborhood clinics will be operated by the SOMOS Community Care health network, with the state delivering Community Vaccination Kits with office supplies, equipment, and PPE as well as vials and syringes for the vaccines. SOMOS officials expect to vaccinate 1,000 senior citizens at the four NYCHA housing complexes on Saturday, and Cuomo pledged that all 33 NYCHA housing complexes will eventually have dedicated access to the vaccine.

Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, who both represent Brooklyn, also spoke at the press conference to ask that Black New Yorkers get vaccinated.

“COVID-19 will kill you and we have seen that particularly with devastating consequences in Black communities, in low-income communities, and in traditionally underserved communities,” Jeffries said.

“(This) means telling everyone you know who is high-risk to come and get vaccinated. So call grandma, grandpa, auntie, uncle, and let them know: we have to get vaccinated. It will save their lives,” Clarke said.

However, supply of the vaccines continues to be an issue. The state’s health care distribution sites have received 1,178,850 first doses and administered 92 percent or 1,084,814 first dose vaccinations, Cuomo’s office said Saturday. Next week’s allocation of 250,400 first doses began arriving in shipments in mid-week.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he wants the city to be able to vaccinate 1 million people by the end of January, though on Wednesday the city rescheduled thousands of people’s vaccine appointments because a shipment of the Moderna shot has been delayed. De Blasio has also prioritized older residents living in NYCHA to receive the shot through an initiative that will transport the elderly to various vaccine hubs.

The decision whether to use the state’s allocation of the reserved second doses to instead vaccinate more people for their first round will have to come from the federal government, Cuomo said Saturday.

“It has to be approved by the federal government, if they have the production to produce enough second dosages,” he said. “But they have to make sure they have enough to do the second dosage. In other words, that’s the federal calculus, right?”

Black ballet dancer stands strong in racism row

BERLIN State Ballet’s first black dancer, Chloe Lopes Gomes, said she has been made to feel different because of her skin color since she first donned ballet shoes as a child.

But after she was again subjected to what she described as “racism” at Germany’s largest dance company, she has launched a fightback that has forced the State Ballet to launch an internal investigation into her complaints.

Lopes Gomes stood by her allegations against the Berlin company, arguing it was time for the classical ballet world to address the issue. Recalling instances where she was made to feel uncomfortable, Lopes Gomes cited a rehearsal for a production of the 19th-century ballet “La Bayadere,” when the company’s ballet mistress was handing around white veils for the dancers to wear.

When she got to Lopes Gomes, she laughed, the 29-year-old dancer said.

“I can’t give you one. The veil is white and you’re black,” she was told.

Another dancer from the company confirmed Lopes Gomes’ account on condition of anonymity. The ballet mistress “said it like it was a joke. I was completely shocked,” she said.

Lopes Gomes, who studied at the renowned Bolshoi ballet in Moscow, felt humiliated — but not surprised. She had been subject to “harassment” at the hands of her boss ever since her arrival in Berlin in 2018, she said.

“In our first rehearsal for ‘Swan Lake,’ six of us were new but all of the corrections were directed at me,” she said.

The remarks continued for months. “She used to say to me, ‘When you’re not in line, you are the only person we see because you are black’” — comments also confirmed by the other dancer.

Lopes Gomes carried on, because she wanted to show “that I deserved my place,” said the dancer, born to a French mother and a Cape Verdean father. But the stress took its toll. She injured her foot, leading to eight months off and a course of anti-depressants.

After her return, last February, she was asked to wear white make-up for a production following the departure of a director who had opposed the idea.

“Lightening my skin felt like denying my identity,” said Lopes Gomes.

When told of the allegations in the autumn, the company, which employs people of 30 different nationalities, responded with shock.

“We didn’t think we could be affected by everyday racism simply because of our diversity. In fact, we never thought about it. But we were wrong,” acting director Christiane Theobald said. “Asking a black artist to wear white make-up is an absolute no-go.”

In December, the Berlin State Ballet launched an internal investigation into discrimination and racism.

“All employees can anonymously report any incidents of discrimination,” Theobald said.

The ballet mistress at the center of the scandal has refused to comment and the company does not wish to speculate on possible disciplinary proceedings against her for legal reasons.

Lopes Gomes will leave the Berlin State Ballet in July as her contract was not renewed. In a world that is “very elitist and exclusive,” she knows she has taken a risk speaking out. But she has the support in the dance world, including her brother Isaac Lopes Gomes, a dancer at the Opera de Paris, and his colleagues.

“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had racist comments like ‘You have to straighten your hair because you have a lion’s mane, you have to tuck in your black ass, you jump like Kirikou (the African child star of an animated film)’,” Lopes Gomes said.

Since she began dancing as a child, she has been made to feel like an outsider.

“They never had the right make-up for my skin tone, I had to bring my own. And I had to adapt my hairstyles” because the hairdressers didn’t know how to style frizzy hair, she said.

She was always “so desperate” to fit in that she just went along with it. “But these are details that make you feel excluded,” she added.

It’s an uphill battle, given that classical ballet is governed by rules dating back to the 19th century that are designed to create an impression of homogeneity.

“It’s time for that to change, Lopes Gomes said. “I’m tired of hearing that you can’t hire black people because they don’t have the bodies for ballet. It’s just an excuse.”

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Biden/Harris administration : What’s in it for Black America?

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America has what it voted for. Trump is gone. Though Trumpism must be dealt with in another forum.

Despite the failed coup d’état on Jan. 6, President Biden and Vice President Harris have been sworn in. The Biden/Harris administration is now a reality.

The work begins

The majority of Americans are ready for the country to move forward but where does it go and how does it get there?

The “empire” of America must now come to grips with a number of structural problems:

Across the United States, voter suppression policies continue to disenfranchise the poor and voters of color.

In the aftermath of the George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbury murders too many Americans do not feel safe in their own communities.

Twenty-four million American’s have died from COVID-19 as the government struggles with the logistics of vaccine distribution and inoculation.

COVID-19 also continues to ravage the American economy. According to the  Department of Labor, the four-week moving average of first-time filings for unemployment insurance claims was 834,250, an increase of 18,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

Also, 30 to 40 million Americans are on the verge of being evicted from their homes in the dead of winter and in the midst of a pandemic.

Two societies

The world also knows as W.E.B Du Bois wrote, that the problem of the 20th century is “the problem of the color line.”

In 1967 The Kerner Commission warned, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one White – separate and unequal” and COVID-19 has highlighted deep-rooted systemic racial disparities in health care; highlighting the adage, when America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia.

As the Biden administration implements its COVID, economic, social justice, education, and other programs; African Americans must be at the forefront of articulating the needs of and for the African American community.

It will be fatal for the community if it overlooks the urgency of the moment.

Making that push

How quickly Biden appeared to set aside the fact that Black voters saved his candidacy and put him in the White House. He was about to drop out of the race until African American voters in South Carolina delivered him a resounding win.

Yet, in December, civil rights leaders had to demand a meeting with the then President elect in order to express their concerns about a lack of focus on racial equity, social justice, and increased diversity in the Biden-Harris cabinet.

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn is on record saying, not enough Black Americans have been nominated to join the incoming Biden administration.

“I want to see where the process leads to…But so far it’s not good.”

Biden has confused gender diversity and diversity of phenotype and pigmentation with the diversity of perspective and policy.

Look at the names and records of his cabinet selections and nominees. For the most part it’s “Clinton/Obama retreads” – the same people and perspectives that have given us the neoliberal and imperialists policies that have driven the country into the ditch. Republicans have contributed to this as well.

But right now, the focus is on President Biden and Vice President Harris.

Our demands

What is the African American community willing to demand?

We need a Marshall Plan for the African American community. If the U.S. could spend $15B to rebuild Europe after the devastation of WWII and pass a $740B Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. can invest the needed dollars to rebuild the American communities of color that it devastated with the Tulsa race riot, the Red Summer of 1919 and the gutting of urban centers with the building of the highway system of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Unsung heroes

The African American community saved Biden’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and put him in the White House.

The African American community saved the Senate for the Democrats with its successful efforts in Georgia.

The question is not what rewards the Black community will be given for its efforts. Instead, the Black community must decide what it is willing to demand.

Dr. Leonard Weather, Jr. is president of the National Medical Association (NMA). Contact him via the NMA’s website, www.nmanet.org, or via email at dr_weather@msn.com or president@nmanet.org.

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… and providing inspiration to Black Americans by overcoming intense racism in his pursuit … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News