Monthly Archives: April 2013

Trained doulas can improve childbirth outcomes — Emotional support ‘inseparable’ from cultural support



By Michelle Lawrence

Contributing Writer


Recent research from the University of Minnesota shows what women like Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra have known for decades: Cultural support during pregnancy has a positive impact on birth outcomes among women of African American heritage. A birth outcome is defined as the result of a pregnancy and depends on several factors such as whether the infant is born early, survives childbirth, and is born weighing at least 5.7 pounds. “When we compared birth outcomes among culturally diverse Medicaid recipients who received prenatal education and childbirth support from trained doulas with those from a national population of similar women, we estimated a 40 percent reduction in cesarean rates,” said Katy Backes Kozhimannil, lead researcher on the U of MN study. “When you look at the potential cost savings associated with a rate reduction of this magnitude, Medicaid reimbursement for birth doulas could be a case where adding coverage on the front end could ultimately result in real dollars saved.”

Currently, taxpayers fund nearly half of all U.S. births through state Medicaid programs, which generally do not cover doula care. A cesarean birth costs almost 50 percent more than a vaginal birth, with average Medicaid payments of $9,131 for a vaginal birth and $13,590 for a cesarean delivery. Continue Reading →

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What has been erased from the African identity?



“Erasure of identity is the stripping from a people, conscious awareness of their sense of cultural continuity.  Life beyond this time has taken us through a most excruciatingly brutal and painful catharsis of suffering that occupies our mind constantly.  Over the past 400 years, we have journeyed through a cold and blistering winter of the soul’.” 

— A. Azzahir


African people have a spiritual intuition that guides our knowledge, but we have been educated away from using it. This spiritual intuition guides how we know what we know. This deep intuition operates underneath the surface and is grounded in spirituality. The intense experience of having our language ripped apart from our thoughts and ways of communicating did great damage to the channels through which we deliver and produce knowledge and wisdom. The damage is extensive; however, it is very superficial. Continue Reading →

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State’s new health exchange weighs how best to enroll the uninsured




 Outreach and education essential to success

Open enrollment for the new MNsure health exchange program is slated to start this October. “This process of creating a Minnesota [health] exchange was a lengthy one,” states Stairstep Foundation CEO Alfred Babington-Johnson, a member of the health insurance exchange advisory task force. “The State of Minnesota was one of the first states” to work on developing an exchange since the Affordable Care Act became law three years ago, beginning with the formation of the task force. According to the state website (see below), “MNsure will be a simple, easy-to-use marketplace” for consumers to find the right health plans that suit their needs through a five-step process: 1) access the website for selection; 2) review health plans; 3) select a plan; 4) check to see if you qualify for tax credits or other health programs; and 5) complete the enrollment process. Babington-Johnson says that at least 31 percent of the state’s uninsured are low-income persons and people of color. Continue Reading →

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Oral Cancer: a sneaky yet preventable killer





By Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III and David Hamlar, MD, DDS 


Why should I care about oral cancer? According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone. This serious mouth disease, which pertains to the mouth, lips or throat, is often highly curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages.  


What causes oral cancer? Tobacco use is the number-one risk factor in oral cancer. Continue Reading →

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The Good Wife Works – On soul food




Filmmaker Byron P. Hurt (born 12/31/69) presented his documentary Soul Food Junkies at Macalester College in St. Paul during Black History Month 2013. The film was also shown at the Merriam Park Branch of the St. Paul Public Library during Black History Month, and on PBS. While attending Northeastern University, Hurt decided to discuss his concerns with his father about his father’s health and diet. Continue Reading →

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Living, surviving and thriving with a disability — Are we equal yet?




There is something that I must be missing, or the ugly head of discrimination is alive and well in this democracy called the United States. The art of forgiveness appears alive and well for European Americans, while the appearance of unequal treatment for others brews under the surface. In one state, we have a European American male running for elected office and winning his party’s nomination to represent the state after previously vacating his governorship of the same state for several days under false pretenses. This person used taxpayer money to fly to another country to have an extramarital affair. No one in the state knew where the governor went. Continue Reading →

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Legislature caught whistling in the dark — Financial problems for Viking stadium construction project



For years I have defined as ill-conceived any planning that mostly serves the planners and their agency/bosses and not those they plan for, that too often leave African Americans out of their equations, purposefully failing or refusing to meet both diversity and equity hiring requirements and appropriate funding or financing best practices regarding construction, education, housing, jobs and public safety. I have long written about the perils of such ill-conceived planning regarding the Vikings stadium. The Star Tribune reminded us of these perils in articles last week, April 8 and 9, perils that could lead to a failed stadium project and loss of the Vikings to another city. There is anxiety in the Minnesota legislature. Read from my over 25 columns on this gathered together in a solutions paper for the Vikings stadium situation, at Continue Reading →

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Jobs disparities contradict our self-image as a civilized nation


Fifty years ago there was a march for jobs and freedom. Is it time for another?  


This year will mark 50 years since that historic march on Washington. I find it ironic that 50 years later there is still the need for another march for jobs and freedom. There is especially a need for a jobs march. Continue Reading →

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Designer poverty: Come to the Twin Cities — we do it right!




By Don Allen

Guest Commentator


There is something to be said about organizations, politicians and community spokespersons who become ingrained in the process of using humans as a way to gain access for nonprofit funding and dismissing the notion of helping their cash crop to become stable and acquire some type of standardized normalcy. “Dependencies” within most Twin Cities social service agencies are set up deliberately; if someone finds what they are looking for, the “success” is ultimately bad for business. Author Ralph Ellison wrote, “All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried telling me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory” (Invisible Man). In the Twin Cities, if you are poor, homeless, angry, drunk, Black, Native American, Somali, or suffering from some form of diversity, you are the foundational backbone of a multibillion-dollar business that survives on misery and the opportunity to study you and your life circumstances, meeting to talk about the challenges while virtually solving nothing. Continue Reading →

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