Throughout the week of November 26,"NBC News With Brian Williams" will take a look at the issues facing African-American women across our nation in a new series "African-American Women: Where They Stand." The series will cover a wide-range of issues from their role in the '08 Presidential race, to the increased health-risks that they need to be concerned about.
Monday's installment will discuss African-American women's progress in the education field. Nearly two-thirds of African-American undergraduates are women. At black colleges, the ratio of women to men is 7 to 1. And that is leading to a disparity in the number of African-American women who go on to own their own businesses. Rehema Ellis will talk to educators, students and businesswomen about why this disparity exists.
Tuesday, Ellis will look at relationships within the African-American female community. Many agree the gender disparity in education and business among African-Americans is having an effect on relationships that African American women have. Some even say the implications could redefine "Black America's family and social structure." In the past fifty years, the percentage of African-American women between 25-54 who have never been married has doubled from 20% to 40%. (Compared to just 16% of white women who have never been married today). Ellis sits down with the members of a Chicago book club and talk about this difference and how it impacts them.
Wednesday, Dr. Nancy Snyderman will discuss the increases risks for breast cancer for African-American women. Mortality rates for African-American women are higher than any other racial or ethnic group for nearly every major cause of death, including breast cancer. Black women with breast cancer are nearly 30% more likely to die from it than white women. Premenopausal black women are more than twice as likely to get a more aggressive form of the disease. And, not only are African-American women more likely to die from breast cancer, but they're less likely to get life-saving treatments. Dr. Snyderman will profile one of the only oncologists in the world who specializes in the treatment of African-American women with breast cancer.
On Thursday, Ron Allen will take viewers to South Carolina -- the first southern primary state -- and ask the question: Will race trump gender or gender trump race? In South Carolina, black women made up nearly 30 percent of all democratic primary voters in 2004. This year, polls show a significant number are undecided, torn between choosing the first African-American or first female Presidential candidate. Allen talks with the undecided, as well the state directors for the Clinton and Obama campaigns, who happen to be African-American women.
To close the series on Friday, Dr. Snyderman will raise the frightening statistic that African-American women are 85% more likely to get diabetes, a major complication for heart disease. And, like breast cancer, more black women die from heart disease than white women. Dr. Snyderman will profile a leading expert and a unique church-based outreach program in South Carolina that seeks to spread the word about heart disease risks to black women congregants.
Mara Schiavocampo, Digital Correspondent for "Nightly News," will address two hot topics in the African - American community: interracial dating and the impact of hip hop music on black women. Interracial dating is a growing trend in the African - American community. An Essence.com poll found that 81% of participants approved of black women dating non- black men. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report in 2000, 95,000 black women were married to white men. In 2005, that number increased to 134,000. Schiavocampo will talk to experts about the trend and discuss how this defines the "Black family" of the future. Schiavocampo will convene a panel of leading black men and women from the hip-hop industry for an engaging discussion on whether hip hop lyrics and videos positively or negatively affect black women. The roundtable also will address how these portrayals are affecting relationships between black women and black men.
Consumers can go online to join the discussion and share their thoughts on message boards. They can also read and respond to blog entries atwww.nightly.msnbc.com. Alexandra Wallace is the executive producer of "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams." Bob Epstein is the senior broadcast producer, and Rich Latour is the senior producer for this series.