Tag: African American Women

READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Five Black Chemists Who Changed the World

To mark the start of Black History Month, five black chemists have been honoured by the American Chemical Society. The society released a commemorative video looking back at the careers of five scientists who changed the world. They include Percy Julian, Mae Jemison, Patricia Bath, Betty Harris and George Washington Carver. The video was produced in conjunction with the National Organisation for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

George Washington Carver 1864 – 1943

George Washington Carver is believed to have been born a slave in Missouri in 1864. He went on to change the lives of many poor farmers through his research and inventions. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed him ‘Black Leonardo’.

He and his brother were kidnapped as babies but were returned as orphans to their owners Moses and Susan Carver. Carver was frail and sickly, so spent most days helping Susan around the house, during which time she taught him to read and write.

He spent years travelling around the country attending different schools, eventually ending up at the State Agricultural College at Ames, Iowa, to study agriculture.

Carver pioneered the use of peanuts in agriculture and his methods became instrumental during the Great Depression, where his advice allowed for better food production.

Over the years, he managed to manufacture hundreds of products from peanuts, including cheese, soap and milk, while inventing around 100 products from sweet potatoes.


Percy Julian 1899 – 1975

Percy Lavon Julian was born in Alabama as the eldest of six children. His father, James Sumner Julian, was a slave and he grew up during the time of heightened racism in the US. Among his childhood memories was finding a man lynched while walking in some woods near his home.

Julian’s parents steered all their children towards education and he eventually studied at DePauw University in Indiana, which accepted African American students. He earned an Austin Fellowship in Chemistry and went to Harvard University in 1923, but the institution worried that white students would dislike being taught by a black person, so withdrew his teaching assistantship meaning he could not complete his PhD.

He later received a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship and was able to obtain his PhD at the University of Vienna in 1931.

Julian became a research chemist and pioneered the chemical synthesis of medical drugs from plants, becoming the first to create the large-scale synthesis of hormones such as testosterone, steroids and progesterone.

He went on to start his own company, where he worked to reduce the cost of producing steroids, meaning more people could access them for medical problems. Julian was only the second African American to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and was one of the first to receive a doctorate in chemistry.


Betty Harris 1940 – Present

Betty Harris was born in Louisiana and she spent her childhood on a farm with 11 siblings. She was interested in Chemistry from a young age and studied at the Southern University and Atlanta University, which awarded her a BA and MA in science respectively.

Harris went on to earn her PhD from the University of New Mexico and she went on to teach chemistry and maths, before spending over 20 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked in the high explosives research and development department.

During her time at LANL, she worked in areas including hazardous waste treatment and environmental restoration facilities contaminated with energetic materials such as propellants, gun propellants, and explosives. She is now a noted expert in the chemistry of explosives.

Outside of the laboratory, Harris worked with the Girl Scouts to develop a chemistry badge similar to that given to the Boy Scouts.


Patricia Bath 1942 – Present

Patricia Bath was born in New York. Her father was an immigrant from Trinidad and both parents encouraged her academically. After graduating from high school early, she received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from New York’s Hunter College in 1967.

After moving to Washington DC, she received a doctoral degree from Howard University College of Medicine. While interning at Harlem Hospital Centre, she realised that poor members of racial minority groups suffered disproportionality from blindness, and that their care was limited. She persuaded her professors at Columbia University to operate on blind patients and pioneered a volunteer-based outreach programme to help disadvantaged people.

Between 1970 and 1973 she served as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University, becoming the first black person to do so. She also became the first African American woman to serve as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Centre and the first to receive a patent for a medical purpose – her Laserphaco Probe is used to treat cataracts.

As well as her medical achievements, she also founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness


Mae Jemison 1956 – Present

Mae Carol Jemison was the first African American women to travel in space when she went on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She was born in Alabama to a maintenance supervisor father and a school teacher mother. She moved to Chicago when three years old and became increasingly interested in science throughout her earlier education. She graduated high school in 1973 at the age of 16 and went on to study at Stanford University.

Jemison said that throughout her university education, she experienced barriers because of her race and gender, with some professors pretending she was not there.

In 1981 she obtained a medical degree from Cornell Medical College and was hired by Nasa as an astronaut in 1987. She said her inspiration for joining was the African American actress Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura in Star Trek.

After leaving Nasa in 1993, she became a professor at Cornell University and was a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College. She later founded her own company, BioSentient, and is looking to develop a device that monitors the nervous system.

She also makes a number of public appearances and recently participated in a forum for promising female students with Michelle Obama.


The Newest Member Of Mensa Is Black!

The newest member of MENSA is Anala Beevers, a little African American girl from New Orleans, Louisiana. With an IQ of 145, she was inducted into this very exclusive club just last month. (Normal genius level is around 130). Can you believe that she’s only 4 years old?! At 4 years old I knew how to read but I was nowhere near genius status. GO ANALA!!

We all know that Mensa is for the exceptionally smart, but did you know that only 2% of the general population qualifies for membership by passing a standardized intelligence test? With more than 57,000 members, there are more Americans in Mensa than in any other country in the world. Members range in age from 2 to 102 and include people from all walks of life – engineers, homemakers, teachers, actors, athletes, students and CEOs alike.

Who’s in Mensa? According to www.us.mensa.org, the youngest Mensan is 2 years old; the oldest is 102 years old. Approximately 38% are Baby Boomers between the ages of 51 and 68, 31% are Gen-Xers between the ages of 27 and 48 and over 2,600 members are under the age of 18. The general membership is 66% male, 33% female but currently there isn’t any data available about racial breakdowns.

So, you’re probably wondering what a bunch of geniuses do when they get together. Well, they have community-oriented activities and can attend entertaining, intellectually stimulating events all while exchanging ideas with others through a variety of publications.  So, little Ms. Anala Beevers is in for a lifetime of learning!

Click here for Anala’s story.


You Can’t Help Who You Fall In Love With? Get Real….

I never understood why people say that you can’t help who you fall in love with. Really? I get that once you fall in love you’re in love. But how did you get there? Or rather, how did you allow yourself to get there?

You see, as soon as I meet a man and learn something about him that I don’t like or can’t deal with, I immediately distance myself from that man. There is no dating, no phone calls, and no contact whatsoever. So since I’m not communicating with him, it is literally impossible for me to fall in love with him. Do you see my point?

Not controlling who you fall in love with is like saying that the letter “C” is the first letter of the alphabet.  But in reality before you get to the letter “C” you must pass letters “A” & “B” first. Which means that you have to get to know a person before falling in love with them – A & B always comes before C. Now do you get my point?

I have an acquaintance that ended up marrying a man that she least expected to end up with. When asked why she chose him, she said “I didn’t like him at first but we started dating and before I knew it, I was in love. You can’t help who you fall in love with.” I’m sure everyone has a friend like this. I don’t understand why you would continue to date someone you don’t like, and even go so far as to fall in love. All of these things are within our control.

All I’m saying is that the words “communication”, “conversation”, “dating” & “like” all come before the word “love” in the dictionary.


What’s The Point of Living A Long Life?

I think that living too long is pointless. Old & young people alike often say that they want to live to be 100 years old. But why?! What can you possibly do at 89 or 93 that you didn’t get done when you were 75 years old?

Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice to be able to boast about how long you’ve lived and all of the things you’ve seen in your lifetime, but there aren’t too many other advantages of old age. I just think that everything that you wanted to accomplish should have been checked off your list when you were younger.

We all know that once you pass a certain age, quality of life diminishes. So what good could it possibly do to live a life of diminished quality? There are so many things that go “south” as you get older. Everything from deteriorating health to losing your longtime friends (who are also very old). Even your own family members probably aren’t visiting you that much. Your grandchildren & great-grandchildren have a life of their own and may only see or call you on your birthday or around the holidays, at best. As you get older, you just can’t do as much as when you were younger. And that’s just the normal cycle of life.

Personally, I’m afraid to get old. I know that aging is inevitable, but I’m not looking forward to all of the physical ailments that come with the aging process. I don’t want to live too long for fear that I’ll lose relevancy in this world.

I’m more concerned about having a full life, not a long one…


Men Aren’t the Only Ones Who Wonder if the Grass is Greener

The notion that women are desperate to find good men and settle down right away isn’t necessarily true. Yes, at some point I would like to get married BUT there are many things to take into consideration, including picking the right person.  I’m always excited when I’m dating someone new but after a couple of months of dating, the novelty wears off & I start wondering – Is the grass greener on the other side?

Perhaps I’ll meet someone taller, better looking or who can make me laugh harder. Maybe there’s another man out there who can hold my attention longer, is more romantic or would be a better fit with my family.  Could there be a man that is even more into me, and more chivalrous? What if there’s someone better for me than the person I’m with now? It’s not that I don’t appreciate the person I’m with, I just wonder if there is someone else out there that I would appreciate even more.

One of the benefits of dating is seeing what else is out there. But even when you think you have something good, there could always be something out there that’s better. How do you really know that your grass is as green as it’s going to get?

Sometimes I look at my girlfriends’ husbands and think to myself “She could’ve done better than him”. Of course I would never say that aloud, but I certainly have had that thought. None of my friends have ever admitted whether or not they think about what their life would’ve been like had they married someone else (read: someone better), but I’m sure they’ve had that thought. It may be too late for them to look for greener grass, but I’m sure they’ve wanted to at some point.

After all, isn’t it human nature to wonder what else is out there?


Two Black Parents or One White Parent – Can Biracial Kids Really Relate?

The discussion of Black versus Biracial really bothers me. We live in a nation where people who have any percentage of African ancestry are considered African American. And before I go any further, let me state that I am proudly African American – both of my parents are full Black (as full as one can be in this country).

I say all of this to say that while I accept people who are biracial, quarterracial or whatever they may call themselves, I honestly do not believe that they carry the same burden that I do. There have been hundreds and hundreds of discussions about complexion within the African American race. I’m not talking about light skin versus darker skin Blacks. What I’m talking about is the upbringing and background of people who have a parent that is non-Black.

I had this discussion with a colleague of mine who fathered a child with a White woman. He told me that his daughter was Black and would be treated as such in this country for her entire life. While I did not disagree with him, I did bring it to his attention that his daughter will have many advantages over a child who comes from a household where both parents are Black (like mine). He maintained that his daughter will still be treated the same, regardless of what race her parents are. And that’s where the conversation got good!

You see, having a White mother (or father, for that matter) makes things a little bit easier. It allows for far greater benefits than to have a mother of “ethnic origin”. That White mother, on average, will make more money for the same job, won’t face racial discrimination (which is still alive & well), be afforded better opportunities and probably came from a more privileged background herself – just because of the color of her skin. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but those are the facts. So while the biracial child may be treated the same as any other person of color, they still came from a “better” foundation (read: having a White parent).

Well, one of these days day we’ll all be mixed anyway….


Longterm Engagement Can Lead to Longterm Problems

So with the TV series of “Marrying the Game” ending, I started thinking about long-term engagements and I wondered why people stay engaged for long periods of time. No one should rush to propose but once you’re engaged, why lag?

The average engagement period in this country is between 1-1 1/2 years. What in the world takes so long to tie the knot? Sure, your dream wedding venue might be booked, you need to save money or other things come up but really – a year and a half engagement? It seems to me that the longer you take to plan the wedding, the more expensive it becomes. I know from personal experience the more time you give me to plan an event, the more things I’ll find to spend money on. Anyone who is engaged for longer than a year must not want to get married. If you are spending more time fussing over having the perfect venue or the cost of the wedding, than you are focusing on the wrong things.

But getting back to my point…on the television show “Marrying the Game”, the couple Tiffney and Jayceon were engaged to be married after dating on & off for 8 years. On the show, there were some issues that Tiffney felt needed to be addressed before walking down the aisle but at the end of the series the future of their relationship was unclear. It’s one thing to date for years & years on end but after breaking off an engagement there is no point in maintaining that relationship even with the purpose of “working on things”. Why call off an engagement unless you’re ready to call off the relationship?  Even if you think that your situation will change with time, people don’t change.

I think that long term engagements are ridiculous: Are you really hoping that your relationship will improve because you’ve changed the date of your wedding?