This is a triumphant time for black women: Condoleezza Rice in the global diplomatic spotlight, Michelle Obama captivating campaign crowds as a potential first lady, billionaire Oprah Winfrey playing political kingmaker.A lot of challenges but at the same time a few triumphs. Health is absolutely a concern especially when you hear stories about how black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. At the same time though black women are an emerging force in the Democratic party.
It's also a traumatic time: Rutgers University basketball players disparaged by radio host Don Imus, a black woman kidnapped and tortured by whites in West Virginia, the home-owning dreams of black women disproportionately dashed by foreclosures.
That remarkable mix is the focus of this year's State of Black America report, issued Wednesday by the National Urban League. It features essays looking at the array of challenges faced by African-American women: economic, social, psychological and medical.
''The one thing that is certain is the need to hear and amplify the voices of black women,'' longtime civil rights activist Dorothy Height writes in the foreword. ''Too often, our needs, concerns, struggles, and triumphs are diminished and subordinated to what is believed to be the more pressing concerns of others.''
Julianne Malveaux, the president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., contends in the report's opening essay that the image of black women in popular culture has barely improved in the year since the Imus incident.
White men continue to dominate on TV's Sunday morning news shows, she writes, while ''the gyrating, undulating image of African-American women in rap music videos and, by extension, on cable television is as prevalent as ever.''
The report delves deeply into economics, noting that black women are more likely than white or Hispanic women to be running a household and raising children on their own. According to Malveaux, black women hold more jobs nationwide than black men, yet -- despite their breadwinner roles -- earn less on average, $566 a week compared to $629 for black men.
In an essay about the home loan crisis, Andrea Harris, president of the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development, suggests that black women have suffered disproportionately. Assessing recent federal data on subprime loans, which are a main culprit in the foreclosure epidemic, Harris says black women received far more of these loans in 2006 than white men.
''It is easy to imagine the devastation that is headed toward African-American women and their communities,'' Harris writes.
An essay by Dr. Doris Browne, a public health expert, details the above-average rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease among black women.
On an upbeat note, former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman notes in her essay that black women are making huge strides as entrepreneurs. The number of businesses owned by them increased by 147 percent between 1997 and 2006, compared to an overall business growth rate of 24 percent, she wrote.
I often try to speak up for the guys but the guys need the ladies as well. And yeah I could say the ladies need the guys. We do often hear about the guys but most of us don't have to look too far to see what the ladies are doing. For the most part it seems single motherhood for black women is everywhere.
Of course I would wonder is this by choice or is the men in their lives unwilling to step up to the plate. I could always think that it's a combination.