COVID-19 Economic Benefits how-to Guide
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woman sitting at table filling out a medical form

As more Americans with and without disabilities are caught up in the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wondering where to find answers to life-or-death questions.

What do I do if I’m a person with a disability and lost my job because of COVID-19?

You are not alone. A monthly report published by the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), shows that nearly one million working-age people with disabilities lost their jobs. That represents a 20 percent reduction of the number of workers with disabilities in our nation’s economy. There is a significant question whether those jobs will ever come back.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) website has a comprehensive run-down on what you as an individual with or without disabilities needs to know about accessing unemployment benefits if you are an eligible worker.

Unemployment insurance (UI) is a joint state-federal program that specifically helps workers who have lost their jobs. With more than 22 million workers now out of their jobs, UI is more important than ever before.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Each state has its own guideline around who does or does not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Generally speaking, if:

  • You lost your job through no fault of your own or you were separated due to a lack of available work.
  • You also meet specific work and wage requirements.

Then you should qualify for unemployment benefits. However, beyond those basic guidelines, each state has different rules in terms of wages earned and time worked. To find out what your state requirements and guidelines are, visit careeronestop.org.

FYI: It generally takes two to three weeks after you file your claim to receive your first benefit check.

What about COVID-19 specific unemployment resources?

In response to the pandemic, DOL issued new guidance to address COVID-19 in the workplace and different scenarios involving workers at risk of losing their jobs because of the virus. You can read that guidance online at dol.gov.

Who can I talk to for more details?

The DOL’s toll-free call center can assist workers and employers with questions about job loss, layoffs, business closures, unemployment benefits and job training: 1-877-US-2JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5627).

What other resources does DOL offer?

DOL maintains a dedicated page for job seekers and unemployed workers looking to access the workforce system. That page includes specific information about finding new job training opportunities as well as disability-specific resources.

What if I’m on SSI or SSDI, but I lost my part-time job? Can I claim unemployment?

The answer really depends on whether you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

For people receiving SSDI, unemployment income is counted as unearned income and DOES NOT count towards the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. This means that people who receive SSDI, but had been working part-time, can claim unemployment without worrying about the usual income limit.

SSI is different from SSDI, but unemployment income also counts as unearned income for SSI. However, SSI benefits may be offset by the amount of unemployment received. SSI has a strict $2,000 asset limit. If SSI recipients receive benefits that would push them over the asset limits, they should consider spending those funds right away to purchase needed supplies.

If a person with a disability had been working but lost their job because of COVID-19, they will need to apply for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The Arc has a great website with lots of details on navigating unemployment as a person with a disability at thearc.org.

What about accessing food benefits?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal nutrition assistance program. SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This card can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) runs the SNAP program and maintains a great website about SNAP eligibility at fns.usda.gov.

While SNAP is a federal program, like most benefits, it is run by state agencies. To find out about your home state’s rules on SNAP benefits, visit fns.usda.gov/snap/.

Before the pandemic, 11 million people with disabilities depended on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) nutrition benefits to put food on the table. That number has increased significantly as people with and without disabilities have lost their jobs and hungry children have lost food access with school closures. In response, more states are seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits for online grocery deliveries. Learn more at RespectAbility.org.

What about food benefits for women and children?

The USDA also runs the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to help low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five at fns.usda.gov/wic.

Like most benefit programs, WIC has strict eligibility requirements that specifically limit the pool of people who can make use of these resources. To determine your eligibility for WIC, visit: fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-eligibility.

How do I order food online for delivery?

To limit their risk of exposure to the virus, many people with and without disabilities have opted to switch entirely to online grocery deliveries. Unfortunately for many people with disabilities, this is an inaccessible or unavailable option.

Popular options for online grocery deliveries include Instacart, Amazon and Walmart. In 35 states, people with disabilities now can or will soon be able use their SNAP benefits for online grocery deliveries. However, there are still states that have taken no action to help millions of people with disabilities put food on the table. RespectAbility and other disability organizations such as the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) are actively working to solve this and other critical, COVID related economic challenges.

What about delivery fees?

Unfortunately, even if you are in a state that has joined the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, you will need to cover the cost of delivery fees.

What federal agencies or programs are providing information to help people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has been leading disability related efforts to respond to COVID-19. They have a great website that has information for aging and disability programs, as well as videos in American Sign Language (ASL) and Spanish language materials.

ACL has distributed information to its grantees in every state about preventing exposure to the virus, tips for dealing with social isolation, technology resources, as well as guidance for programs that are directly helping people with disabilities deal with COVID-19.

Visit their extensive website with resources and information at acl.gov/COVID-19.

What about Veterans with Disabilities?

Like ACL and DOL, the Department of Veterans affairs has created an extensive website to cover VA specific issues in the COVID-19 pandemic. You can use the website to read the latest about COVID-19, make appointments or access other benefits/services: va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions.

If you are not yet connected to a Veterans Service Organization (VSO), why not connect with one now via the internet? For example, you could connect with Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) pva.org/find-support, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) dav.org or Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) iava.org.

What do I do if I am at-risk of COVID-19 and have roommates or live in a group home and people are not practicing social distancing or taking precautions?

This is a serious matter and your safety needs to come first. Consider preparing a script of what you want to say before saying it. Remember to be respectful of everyone’s emotional needs but firm about your own health and safety.

Have a conversation with your roommate about documenting when and if people are coming. That way you can tell public health authorities if either of you comes down sick.

This great article from TODAY has more ideas on how to handle this delicate issue: https://www.today.com/health/social-distancing-how-talk-those-who-aren-t-doing-it.

For more resources and updates from RespectAbility about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the one-in-five people who live with a disability, please visit: RespectAbility.org/covid-19.

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari Are Engaged: ‘I Can’t … Believe It!’
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Sam Asghari and Britney Spears | CREDIT: BRITNEY SPEARS INSTAGRAM

By Daniela Avila and Melody Chiu, People

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari are ready to say “I do!”

Spears and Asghari announced their engagement on Instagram on Sunday after more than four years of dating.

The singer and actor-fitness enthusiast were first romantically linked after meeting on the set of Spears’ “Slumber Party” music video in 2016.

Spears, 39, and Asghari, 27, shared the happy news on Instagram, and Asghari’s manager Brandon Cohen shared in an additional statement to PEOPLE that he is “proud to celebrate and confirm the engagement.”

“The couple made their long-standing relationship official today and are deeply touched by the support, dedication and love expressed to them,” said Cohen, adding that Spears’ new ring was designed by N.Y.C. jeweler Roman Malayev.

“He couldn’t be happier to be involved and make this one-of-a-kind ring,” added Cohen.

In a sweet video, Spears — who a source tells PEOPLE exclusively is “ecstatic” about the proposal— showed off her new rock with Asghari by her side. “Yes!” she tells Asghari after he asks if she likes her new bling.

The singer has had a year filled with up and downs as she continues to fight to end her 13-year conservatorship.

In August, Spears praised her now-fiancé on Instagram for helping her through the “hardest years” of her life.

“Not only has this cute asshole been with me through the hardest years of my life but he happens to be an extremely good cook 👨🏽‍🍳!” Spears wrote. “Fast & Furious franchise, don’t miss out on your next star 🌟🏎️👗🤓 !!!!”

Click here to read the full article on People.

5 Ways to Chill Out in a Hectic Life
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According to the American Psychological Association, the country is facing a mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.

This was brought on by the stress created by the pandemic, leaving many people to feel anxiety and worry more. With that in mind, it’s crucial that people prioritize relaxing and reducing stress in order to protect their mental health. The good news is there are numerous things they can do to help them achieve that goal.

“Being busy became such a trend, as though busy equated success – now freedom and flexibility are the symbols of success,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “It’s hard for people to chill out when their systems are programmed to be going nonstop and working nonstop. It takes a minute to down regulate the system in order to actually reduce stress and chill out.”

In a Pew Research Center survey, at least 60% of the adults reported that they sometimes feel too busy to enjoy life, with 12% of them saying they felt that way all of the time. Living like this is one sure way to increase stress and anxiety levels. Having long term stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, and depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

While many people want to reduce the stress in their lives, they are not always sure how to go about doing so. Here are 5 ways to chill out in a hectic life:

  • Mindfulness. Keeping yourself in the present moment can go a long way toward helping you lower stress, anxiety, and even depression as well as help you get better sleep and establish a better sense of well-being. Mindfulness is something that everyone can learn and practice anywhere at anytime.
  • Connect with people. Getting together with people we enjoy being around helps us laugh, feel connected, and make us happier. Those populations who are the healthiest in the world, such as the Blue Zones, tend to get together for social interaction regularly. Join a group or find some friends you like to be around and meet up on a regular basis. If you don’t feel comfortable being in person – create zoom social events; something is better than nothing.
  • Be in nature. There are many health benefits from spending time in nature. Even a view of nature helps us feel better and can improve our mood. Be sure to get outdoor time, taking walks, biking, gardening, or doing something else you enjoy. Nature-deficit disorder is real. Whatever you choose, just be sure to spend time outside and in nature.
  • Schedule free time. With the busy lives that people live today it may be necessary to put free time on the schedule. This way it will be a part of your plan and you will have to give it your attention. Don’t let other things crowd out your scheduled free time.
  • Set the intention. The first part of making your life less hectic is to set the intention that you are going to chill out. Setting the intention will get you to formulate your thoughts, plans, and goals. Determine what you want, what you will do to make it happen, and what you want the outcome to be.

“You can’t continue to put off reducing your hectic and stressful lifestyle,” added Sandler. “Having a more relaxing life with less stress takes being proactive and making some changes. You have to put work into it, some of it may seem counterintuitive, but what you get back is beyond rewarding.”

Sandler has worked with many people to help them identify a plan for personal achievement, take steps to reach goals, and identify areas that need to be worked on. She provides people with meaningful tools that they can use to help bring calm and insight into their life. In addition to working with individuals, she offers luxury impact retreats.

Sandler has a bachelor’s degree in psychology anda master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practice. She previously spent time as a research assistant while at Johns Hopkins, focusing on purpose in life. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

About Katie Sandler

Katie Sandler is a popular impact coach and provides health and wealth coaching and personal and professional development. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful so they can live with purpose and make an impact in our world. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

Source:

American Psychological Association. Stress in America 2020https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/report-october

Pew Research Center. How Americans feel about the satisfactions and stresses of modern life.https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/05/how-americans-feel-about-the-satisfactions-and-stresses-of-modern-life/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Manage Stress. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/health-conditions/heart-health/manage-stress

Britney Spears’ Father Has Filed to End Her Conservatorship in “Massive Legal Victory”
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Britney Spears performing on stage

By , Marie Claire

Britney Spears is one huge step closer to being free. On Sept. 7, Jamie Spears—the star’s father and her conservator for 13 years—filed a petition to end his daughter’s conservatorship altogether, in what her lawyer called “a massive legal victory for Britney Spears, as well as vindication.”

“Recent events related to this conservatorship have called into question whether circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist,” reads the filing, as seen by People.

“Ms. Spears has told this Court that she wants control of her life back without the safety rails of a conservatorship,” the filing continues. “She wants to be able to make decisions regarding her own medical care, deciding when, where and how often to get therapy. She wants to control the money she has made from her career and spend it without supervision or oversight. She wants to be able to get married and have a baby, if she so chooses. In short, she wants to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding.”

Jamie Spears had previously agreed to step down as conservator “when the time is right” after initially refusing to step down at all. But for Britney Spears’ lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, this wasn’t enough: The singer’s father should step down immediately, he said.

This new court filing therefore represents a huge leap forward for Britney Spears’ case. “As Mr. Spears has said again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the filing continues. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.”

Jamie Spears wanted to step down only if certain financial demands were met, but Rosengart was fully opposed to this settlement. “Having exposed his misconduct and improper plan to hold his daughter hostage by trying to extract a multi-million dollar settlement, Mr. Spears has now effectively surrendered. There is no settlement,” Rosengart told People.

He continued, “To the extent Mr. Spears believes he can try to avoid accountability and justice, including sitting for a sworn deposition and answering other discovery under oath, he is incorrect and our investigation into financial mismanagement and other issues will continue.”

Click here to read the full article on Marie Claire.

Bachelor ‘s Kelley Flanagan Tearfully Shares She Has Lyme Disease: ‘It’s a Blessing and a Curse’
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Bachelor 's Kelley Flanagan Tearfully Shares She Has Lyme Disease

By Julie Mazziotta, Yahoo! Entertainment

Kelley Flanagan is sharing “some not so good news” with her followers — she’s tested positive for Lyme disease.

The former Bachelor contestant, 29, posted a video on Instagram where she tearfully explains that she’s struggling with the news about her health.

“I’m not having the best day today,” Flanagan said, before sharing that she tested positive for Lyme disease. The reality star said that she suspected that something was off because her body “is so much more sensitive and super reactive to a bunch of things.”

“Two of my brothers have Lyme disease and a lot of their symptoms sounded really similar to me,” she said. “Cause I’ve just always had something off since I was young, and like, really really had to take care of myself.”

Flanagan said that she thinks “this is something that I’ve had maybe for a while,” and she’s partially relieved to have a diagnosis.

“It’s a blessing and a curse because now I can target why I feel off so often but also means several different lifestyle changes and extensive research on how to help/hopefully cure this!” she wrote in the caption. “I know this is going to be tough for me seeing what my brothers have gone through mentally and physically but I’m going to put so much of my time and energy into figuring this out and combatting this.”

Flanagan, crying, said that her diagnosis is “not the end of the world, but it’s definitely going to [lead to] a lot of changes.”

The reality star promised to take her followers “on this journey of me figuring it out.”

“I’m trying to stay positive,” she said.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment.

How misogynoir is oppressing Black women athletes
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Black female track athletes

By Hannah Ryan, CNN

Naomi Osaka discovered what it’s like to be at the sharp end of a sporting governing body’s regulations this summer.

The ​four-time grand slam singles champion declined to ​attend press conferences as she began her French Open campaign in June — citing the importance of protecting her mental health and addressing the toll that media interviews had previously taken on her.

The French Open organizers responded by fining the world No. 2 an amount of $15,000 and threatening to expel her from future grand slams, after they deemed her withdrawal from press conferences as a failure on her part to meet “contractual media obligations.”

Osaka made the decision to withdraw from Roland Garros altogether, then skipped Wimbledon, before returning to play at the Tokyo Olympics.

What’s happened to Osaka over the last few months has left many ​critical of her sport’s handling of the situation, and wishing those who govern her sport ​had adopted a more empathetic and sensitive approach given ​she was dealing with mental health issues.

In fact, just after Osaka said she would be opting out of speaking to the press at the tournament, the French Open official Twitter account posted a since-deleted tweet that included photos of four other players engaging in media duties — Coco Gauff, Kei Nishikori, Aryna Sablenka and Rafael Nadal — which carried the caption: “They understood the assignment.”

The tweet appeared to be directed at Osaka and her decision to withdraw from media obligations. It was considered by several former tennis players and pundits as insensitive, and former doubles champion Rennae Stubbs said that the post could make Osaka “feel guilty” and described it as “humiliating” for her.

And while the rule itself — in which players are required to engage in press conferences throughout the tournament — ​may not be a racist or misogynistic one, the context in which Osaka found herself ​punished and seemingly mocked by officials is part of a pattern in which Black women in ​elite sports are subject to harsh scrutiny.

The rigidity with which Roland Garros responded to Osaka’s decision is reminiscent of the scrutiny that tennis ​governing bodies have previously bestowed upon other prominent players, including Serena Williams.

Osaka is a young, Black ​and Japanese athlete whose decision at the French Open is considered outside of the box by many. Her refusal to play by the traditional rules has seen her face backlash across the board in a particular right-wing media landscape that doesn’t look too fondly on Black women that diverge from the expected path.
And tennis has a history in the way it has dealt with Black women who do things differently.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

How to Mitigate Pandemic Fatigue
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By Susan Au Allen: National President & CEO, US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC)

The vaccines are here. This marks a critical turning point — a year into the pandemic — in the fight against a virulent disease that has wreaked months-long havoc to lives and livelihood.

Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated from COVID-19; millions more are awaiting their turn. This is welcome news that brings renewed optimism.

Our collective jubilation, however, is tempered by caveats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts estimate that the United States is still months away from reaching the threshold of herd immunity.

To cut the chain of transmission, at least 70% of the U.S. population — or over 200 million people — would have to recover from the illness and achieve natural immunity or undergo vaccinations. According to CDC, only 7.9% of the U.S. population — or just over 26 million people — have been given the recommended two doses.

This sobering reality is compounded by the arrival of highly contagious variants — increasing exponentially — which could spark new outbreaks and undermine vaccination progress. This does not augur well for the public sentiment that has been aching to return to a semblance of normalcy.

First the Fear, Now the Fatigue

In the early days of the pandemic, as the infection spiked, fear was foremost in everyone’s mind. Few questioned government-imposed lockdowns, restrictions of unfettered movements, enforced social distancing and other health protocols. Public compliance was high.

Today, more than a year later, the public attitude has changed: fear has been supplanted by fatigue. People have become more relaxed due to collective boredom, exhaustion, impatience or a sense of apathy — a phenomenon experts refer to as “pandemic fatigue.”

Uncertainty, a sense of lack of control and limited options fuel anxiety. This leads to profound shifts in social and work behaviors, as well as consumer preferences. Humans — social animals who are naturally in need of constant contact with each other — will keep on seeking out one another.

Signs are everywhere: recent outbreaks have been traced to bars, restaurants and air travel. An exhausted public has begun to disregard health protocols. This trend will continue.

What likely emerges next is a vicious cycle. When the public lets its guard down, health protocols will be broken. This will then trigger more infections. Eventually, this will lead to more restrictions — and pandemic fatigue will worsen.

The Business of Coping

There simply is no available playbook in corporate America and government today that offers guidance on how to effectively handle pandemic fatigue. Psychologists counsel that the art of mitigating pandemic-related fatigue begins with accepting the current reality.

It is also important to accept that the adaptations in how people work these days could become protracted or even permanent. With workflow significantly disrupted, output and morale are at their nadir. Employees have hit the motivational wall. Social calendars are wiped clean. Small talk among office colleagues — including spontaneous gossip sessions next to the water cooler — is replaced by seemingly interminable, back-to-back video calls that ironically lead many to feel more disconnected than ever.

Since the work-from-home set-up began, employees have also noticed that their working hours have been stretched. They struggle to follow a structured work schedule. It is difficult to set and adhere to work-related parameters at home, in part because they worry that they will lose their job or be seen as weak contributors to the team effort. These amorphous work boundaries, plus the associated stress, contribute to the energy drain among the workforce.

In response, companies of every size are bringing out myriad new initiatives from their arsenal to support their employees. A host of activities are offered that focus on connection, care and the well-being of staff — often ranging from tailored wellness programs to virtual happy hours. Managers are clearing their calendars to make themselves available for informal, agenda-free connections. Others are allowing employees to take more time off.

But more needs to be done. Organizations must empower teams, simplify unnecessary bureaucracy and enable a faster decision-making process. Conduct listening tours to take the pulse of employees and assess their needs. Apply innovative, best-practice work-from-home models. Help prioritize available work, put a pause on the introduction of new projects, limit work in progress and allow for respite and recovery.

Individually, employees must slow down. Keep a sense of calm and focus. Stave off ennui by virtually reaching out to a community with shared interests, such as gardening, painting and other hobbies. Take periodic breaks to replenish energy. Try breathing exercises and meditation, go for a stroll, read a book, engage in online shopping or “retail therapy,” etc. Channel fatigue into meaningful and creative endeavors.

Further, limit access to social media and avoid tuning in to negative stories on television that raise stress and anxiety levels. Do not let negativity foster.

The Untrodden Path to the ‘Next Normal’

A sense of loss is at the heart of pandemic fatigue — the loss of control in our daily life, work, business, finances, travel, important events, opportunities and more. On a personal level, it is the loss of connection to our family, friends, peers and community.

Understandably, stress levels remain high and taking their toll. According to Nielsen data, alcohol sales in the U.S. are up 23 percent.

As the U.S. crosses yet another grim milestone with over half a million deaths from COVID-19, the country’s policymakers have the daunting task of trying to deflate the rate of infection. They face a tenuous balancing act: enforcing a range of restrictions while weighing public health-related and economic repercussions.

Compliance wanes as pandemic fatigue spreads. Worse, as more people get vaccinated, many become more complacent and tempted to disregard precautions. Some take their cues from several state leaders who have announced the easing of restrictions, including the lifting of mask mandates and allowing businesses to open at full capacity.

Susan Allen headshot smiling wearing glasses and pink blouse with a black blazer
Susan Au Allen

The vaccines are no panacea for this contagion. If the public fails to adhere to minimum public health standards, it will only aggravate the current situation. To avoid reaching the tipping point of yet another coronavirus surge, safety measures must remain and be heeded. It is up to a conscientious public to do its share to ensure that our collective journey through this untrodden path to the “next normal” will be smooth, safe and healthy.

Susan Au Allen came to the United States from Hong Kong on an invitation from the White House in recognition of her volunteer work for people with disabilities. She received her Juris Doctor from the Antioch School of Law and LL.M. in International Law from Georgetown University. During her 17 years with Paul Shearman Allen & Associates of Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong, she became nationally recognized for her work on immigration, international trade and investment. Once an immigrant, she knows the obstacles that one must be overcome to achieve the American Dream, and she has dedicated her life to help entrepreneurs to pursue their Dream — develop, grow and build a successful business.

Grammy-winning artist Ciara is ‘Cerving Confidence’ in Hologic’s new cervical cancer awareness effort for Black women
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Social media ads in Hologic's new campaign star singer and entrepreneur Ciara reminding women to get screened for cervical cancer. (Hologic and Black Women's Health Imperative)

By Beth Snyder Bulik, Fierce Pharma

Grammy-winning artist Ciara encourages Black women to take care of themselves from the inside out in Hologic’s new campaign to raise awareness around cervical cancer. Playing on the phrase “serving looks” meaning looking good, Ciara is “Cerving Confidence” in the campaign created with the Black Women’s Health Imperative. The intent? Prompt Black women to serve looks on themselves, starting on the inside.

“It’s more than a manicure, getting our hair done or a new outfit, it’s taking care of our health inside and out. Your health comes first Sis—yes!” Ciara says in the debut video.

Other Black women in the video chime in with additional thoughts such as “Let’s normalize being on top of our stuff” and “If you can go get your hair done, nails done, make up done, you can go get that wellness exam.”

Ciara is an ideal ambassador for the campaign, thanks to her music, business leadership and frequent messages speaking out to empower women and especially Black women.

“She’s not just ‘a celebrity,’ but a celebrity and a personality who’s relatable,” Linda Blount, CEO of Black Women’s Health Imperative, said. “We talk about the lived experience as a Black woman, Ciara is someone who shares those experiences and talks about it openly and publicly.”

The campaign invites women on social and digital media to participate by uploading a photo and telling how they “cerv confidence.” Ciara will also host an online summit later this summer about the importance of self-care for Black women.

Blount’s hope is that Ciara and the “Cerving Confidence” campaign help advance the better outcomes for Black women that they’ve been working with Hologics on for years. Hologic’s recently launched Project Health Equality directly addresses the inequities in women’s healthcare for Black and Hispanic women and includes BWHI as a partner.

While racial and socioeconomic inequalities are not new in creating a disproportionate cervical cancer burden for Black women, the pandemic has made the situation worse. Black women, in fact, are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women.

Click here to read the full article on Fierce Pharma.

Taking Pride In America’s LGBT Economy
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Collage with diverse people and "America's LGBT Economy" Title in the middle

Money talks. And now, more than ever, the private sector is listening to the collective voice of the LGBT community. In many ways, our dollar is as strong as our votes at the ballot box.

We have fought hard to secure our rights in the name of equality, but our true equity and ability to bring about change for our community lies with our economic power.

Our buying power and impact on the nation’s gross domestic product have given us tremendous leverage to advance political advocacy and global human rights. As is true with our social visibility, our economic visibility is essential in building a diverse and inclusive society — and the power of the LGBT dollar is becoming more and more visible every day.

That was the impetus for the formation of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce nearly 20 years ago. In 2002, we realized no one had truly considered the economic equality of LGBT people or the impact economics could have on the equality movement. With over 1.4 million LGBT business owners (and growing) behind us, we have seen the LGBT community earn its place at the table of economic opportunity. And it’s not just the Fortune 500 who are actively marketing to, partnering with, and procuring from the LGBT business community. Thanks to NGLCC’s public policy leadership, over thirty state, county, and local governments are welcoming our community’s businesses as an essential part of an equitable COVID-19 recovery.

Two decades ago, slapping a rainbow on a liquor bottle for one month of the year was enough for a brand to consider themselves “gay-friendly.” Findings from LGBT economic experts, however, have taught corporations the value of LGBT brand loyalty. More than 75 percent of LGBT adults and their friends, family, and relatives say they would switch to brands that are known to be LGBT friendly. In 2017 alone, the LGBT consumer buying power was over $917 billion. But we are so much more than just consumers.

If the total contributed value of the estimated 1.4 million American LGBT business owners is considered, our input to the economy is over $1.7 trillion. That would make LGBT Americans the 10th largest economy in the world.

Furthermore, our community’s businesses grow larger and last longer than others in the United States. On average, American small businesses fail around the five-year mark, but NGLCC’s certified LGBT-owned business enterprises average over twice that, with at least 12 years in business.

These LGBT-owned businesses are also powerful job creators: 900 LGBT-owned companies we studied created an estimated 33,000 jobs. LGBT entrepreneurs are committed to hiring greater numbers of LGBT employees and ensuring their own supply chains are as diverse as possible. Business leaders in our community continually redefine industries and shatter stereotypes. From technology firms to local restaurants and retail shops, we are proving every day that if you buy it, an LGBT-owned business can supply it.

When you look at a price tag, look for an indication that the company is an LGBT-inclusive corporation or an NGLCC Certified Business Enterprise. It has never been easier to go online or check with your local LGBT chamber of commerce to make sure you support the brands that have our community’s back. If you are an LGBT business owner and not yet certified as one, you’re leaving opportunities on the table to help your business and be counted as part of our LGBT global economy. You could join our ranks as a role model, job creator, and future LGBT business success story.

When it comes to diverse communities — LGBT people, women, people of color, people with disabilities, and more — we must stand in solidarity as a business force. We have never seen greater cooperation and solidarity than we have in recent months. And a great deal of that is due to the recognition that LGBT people are also part of every other community.

Use the LGBT community’s trillion-dollar clout to make a difference. Support your community when you shop, seek out LGBT-owned businesses when you invest and stand by those who stand with us. The LGBT community is an economic force to be reckoned with — and every one of us plays a part in it.

 

Read the report at Nglcc.org/report.


JUSTIN NELSON and CHANCE MITCHELL are cofounders of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). NGLCC is the business voice of the LGBT community, the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people, and the exclusive certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses. www.nglcc.org @nglcc

Dr. Jennifer Ashton opens up about what it’s like to live with anxiety
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Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' Chief Medical Correspondent, talks to TJ Holmes on about anxiety

Dr. Jennifer Ashton’s anxiety attacks started to happen after she had a severe allergic reaction to a food. “I had a couple of episodes where I thought mistakenly that I had eaten that same food that I was allergic to,” said Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN. “And even though I was not having any true physical symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, once my mind went there, it was almost like a marble rolling off the edge of a table.”

“I started to feel dizzy. I started to feel chest tightness. My heart was racing. I was short of breath, but objectively, I was not having an allergic reaction,” she said. “And even though I recognized that I was having an anxiety attack, I was unable to stop it.”

Ashton spoke out about her own experience with anxiety during Mental Health Awareness Month to put a spotlight on a condition that is common but not always easily understood.

Anxiety is the feeling evoked when someone experiences fear of something bad happening, and it can lead to avoidance, attacks, excessive worrying or other symptoms. Everyone has anxiety sometimes, but when anxiety becomes overwhelming to the point it consistently interferes with daily life, or in the case of Ashton, prompts anxiety attacks that interfere with daily life, it can be an anxiety disorder, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health (OWH).

“Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime”

Anxiety disorders are so common they affect about 40 million American adults every year, according to OWH.

And women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, a discrepancy not yet completely understood from a medical perspective. Some experts say it may be due, in part, to women’s changing hormones and different responses to stress, and women may report symptoms of anxiety more frequently than men.

The prevalence of anxiety underscores that it is a serious mental health concern and not something to be dismissed by doctors or patients, according to Ashton.

“What I learned from my own experience with anxiety attacks is that I think a stigma occurs in a lot of society with people thinking that it’s not real, or it’s not serious or it’s insignificant because we all know that there’s no actual situation occurring,” she said. “But none of that matters. The physical manifestations, the symptoms that I felt when I experienced these anxiety attacks, were absolutely real.”

Ashton noted the coronavirus pandemic, an anxiety-inducing global event that has now lasted more than one year, should have highlighted for people the importance of taking anxiety seriously and treating it just as one would any other medical condition.

“There was not a week that went by that I didn’t hear from patients that they were experiencing anxiety,” she said. “I think what needs to happen is a very objective assessment, not only of ourselves as individuals, but collectively, and what’s going on in the world, so then you can say, ‘This is not surprising, really … it’s common. It’s understandable.'”

Click here to read the full article on ABC News.

Naomi Campbell Announces a ‘Beautiful Little Blessing’ as the Supermodel Starts Her Journey Into Motherhood
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Naomi Campbell smiling at the camera in front of a black background

By Maiysha Kai, The Root

Naomi Campbell’s career has spanned over three decades and brought the supermodel, activist and philanthropist worldwide acclaim, starring on countless magazine covers and counting world leaders like Mandela among her personal mentors. But just days before her 51st birthday on May 22, Campbell announced what is undoubtedly her greatest achievement yet, posting on Tuesday morning that she is now also a mother.

“A beautiful little blessing has chosen me to be her mother,” Campbell captioned a post on Instagram, accompanied by a picture of her manicured hand cradling two tiny feet peeking out from a sundress. “So [honored] to have this gentle soul in my life there are no words to describe the lifelong bond that I now share with you my angel. There is no greater love,” she added.

Campbell has made no secret of her desire to be a parent, telling ES Magazine in 2016 that she had considered both adoption and having her own biological child.

“I think about having children all the time,” she told the outlet (h/t the Mirror). “But now with the way science is I think I can do it when I want.”

“Asked if she would have the child herself rather than adopt, she replied: ‘Maybe. Maybe… Maybe,’” the Mirror reported.

Campbell has not disclosed the circumstances surrounding her new addition, or her new daughter’s name. Neither mattered to Campbell’s over-10 million followers and many celebrity friends; congratulations continue to pour in as thousands send their well wishes to the new mom.

Click here to read the full article on The Root.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  2. LULAC 2021 National Women’s Conference
    November 12, 2021 - November 13, 2021
  3. CSUN Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022