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NEWS – Nov/Dec 2017

Dr. Ravi Perry, New Chair of Political Science at VCU

On October 15th, Dr. Ravi Perry became the new chair of the Political Science Department at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA. Ravi has brought distinction to the Department of Political Science and the College through both his scholarship and his extensive service and community involvement. Ravi’s research interests focus on an evolving and prolific take on issues facing African-Americans in the United States, with specializations in Black politics, minority representation, urban politics, American public policy, and LGBT minority politics.

In addition to his scholarship, Ravi serves as President of the National Association for Ethnic Studies where he is also associate editor of the journal, Ethnic Studies Review.   Ravi also recently completed years of service on the Executive Council of the Sexuality and Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.  In the Richmond area, Ravi also serves on the Board of Directors of Diversity Richmond.  He has described himself as “a proud feminist, a life-long advocate for and with the LGBTQIA community, and a lover of politics and community.”

Dr. Perry is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including being recognized as one of the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s 50 Hero Citizens, Out Magazine’s Hidden 105 and The Advocate’s 193 Reasons to Have Pride, and 40 under 40.


NAACP Board Elects Derrick Johnson as New President & CEO

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), America’s largest and original legacy civil rights organization, has unanimously elected Derrick Johnson president & CEO, it was announced today. Johnson, 49, has served as interim president and CEO since July of this year.

Under Johnson’s leadership, the organization has announced a transition from the 501(c)3 non-profit status it currently holds to become a 501 (c)4. The change will lift significant restrictions on the NAACP’s ability to engage in political lobbying. IRS rules permit political actions by 501(c)4 groups, though not as their “primary activity.”

A Detroit native now residing in Jackson, Mississippi, Mr. Johnson, who was also elected vice-chairman of the Board of Directors in February of this year, is a longtime member, leader and a respected veteran activist who will be tasked with guiding the NAACP through a period of tremendous challenge and opportunity at a key point in its 108-year history. The NAACP has undergone transitions in leadership this year as it re-envisions itself to take on a tumultuous and contentious social and political climate. He will have a three-year term.

“In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition, as well as a crucial moment in our nation’s history. With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast than ever before, and Derrick has the vision, mobility and courage to help us meet that demand,” said Leon Russell, Board Chairman of the NAACP. “As both a longtime member of the NAACP, and a veteran activist in his own right – having worked on the ground to advocate for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, along with championing countless other issues – Derrick also intimately understands the strengths of the Association, our challenges and the many obstacles facing Black Americans of all generations today. I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role,” he added.

Mr. Johnson has an extensive history and career legacy of dedicated civil rights activism. He formerly served as state president of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, where he successfully spearheaded campaigns for voting rights, worker’s rights and equitable education, and he additionally is the founder and executive director of One Voice, Inc., a Jackson-based non-profit organization conceived in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to enhance the quality of life for African Americans through civic engagement training and initiatives.

Having earned a solid educational foundation, Mr. Johnson attended historically Black Tougaloo College of Mississippi, before going on to earn his Juris Doctorate degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston. He was later awarded fellowships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He proudly serves on the board of directors of both the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.



Survey Reveals Tremendous Challenges and Threats of Being Black and Transgender in America

Building upon its groundbreaking 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)—the largest survey of transgender identity in the nation—the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has joined with Black Transmen, Inc.Black Transwomen, Inc.; and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to produce a detailed report about experiences of Black USTS respondents. The result is critical insight into the myriad risks, challenges, threats and daily obstacles faced by Black transgender people. While findings from the USTS revealed several crucial challenges to being transgender in the United States, Black respondents reported substantially higher threats, deeper levels of poverty and economic insecurity, negative health outcomes and interactions, and more extreme distress than others surveyed.


  • 38% of Black respondents were living in poverty, compared to 24% of Black people in the U.S. population.
  • 7% of Black respondents were living with HIV, nearly five times the rate in the USTS sample overall (1.4%) and more than twenty times the rate in the U.S. population (0.3%). Notably, Black trans women reported an infection rate of 19%.
  • 20% of Black respondents were unemployed, twice the rate among Black people in the U.S. population (10%).
  • 53% of Black respondents have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetimes (13% within the past year), compared to 47% in the USTS sample overall.
  • 34% of respondents who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being refused treatment, being verbally harassed, being physically or sexually assaulted.
  • 41% of Black respondents experienced serious psychological distress in the month before completing the survey (based on the Kessler 6 Psychological Distress Scale), more than eight times the rate in the U.S. population (5%).