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INK BLAST | LET’S RAISE MORE HEALTHY AND HAPPY BLACK GIRLS, LIKE THE OBAMA DAUGHTERS

INK BLAST | LET’S RAISE MORE HEALTHY AND HAPPY BLACK GIRLS, LIKE THE OBAMA DAUGHTERS

By Juleyka Lantigua
Obama_fam The Obamas’ little girls represent an ideal of childhood that sadly too few Black children enjoy.

It’s rare when any two little Black girls get a lot of positive attention in the media. But Malia, 10, and Sasha, 6, who are the picture of healthy, happy kids, have been making a splash.

Starting from their bouncy appearances during the campaign, to the images of a bleary-eyed Malia yawning as she witnessed her parents cast their votes, to their triumphant entrance on the world stage as part of the first First Black Family, the Obama girls have been shining examples of the type of children a loving family, nurturing environment and thoughtful guidance can create.

But many Black girls in this country do not have their advantages.

One out of three Black children is poor, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. That comes to 3.8 million. And half of those poor Black kids live in extreme poverty, the group notes. (The definition of extreme poverty is a family of four subsisting on $10,325 or less for the year.)

By contrast, Malia and Sasha’s parents earned six-figure salaries. The Obama daughters have enjoyed a middle-class existence that has included private schools, dance lessons, and family vacations. Many Black children, however, go to dilapidated public schools that are separate and unequal, with overcrowded classes and no art, or dance, or music offered.

Michele and Barack Obama’s daughters appear healthy and happy and full of energy, like children ought to be. They probably get regular check-ups, eat a nutritious and balanced diet and are up to date on their vaccinations.

By contrast, one out of eight Black children is uninsured, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. "Black children are almost 70 percent more likely than white children to lack a usual place for health care," the advocacy organization has found.

Unlike Malia and Sasha, many Black girls are overweight. The Department of Health estimates that one out of every six children is obese, and Blacks and Hispanics are at the greatest risk. What’s more, "Black girls are more likely to be obese than Black boys," according to the Department of Health.

Unlike the Obama children, who count on two dedicated parents, the average little Black girl is more likely to be in a single parent or extended-family household. Only about 45 percent of Black families include a married couple.

"Juleyka Lantigua is a journalist and editor whose work appears in national newspapers and magazines. For more info visit: www.juleykalantigua.com."

Sasha and Malia will soon be roaming the hundreds of rooms in the White House. Sadly, many Black girls become wards of the state. "Black children are the most overrepresented demographic in fostercare nationwide," according to the General Accounting Office. "Blacks make up 34 percent of the foster-care population, but only 15 percent of the general child population," the GAO estimates.

We can’t give every Black girl the advantages that Malia and Sasha have.

But as parents, we can and must commit to providing a stable and nurturing family home.

And as a society, we can and must commit to abolishing child poverty, guaranteeing free health care to all of our children, and providing high-quality education.

Then we may relish seeing more adorable kids like Malia and Sasha Obama.

"Juleyka Lantigua is a journalist and editor whose work appears in national newspapers and magazines. For more info visit: www.juleykalantigua.com."

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