Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Astrophysicist Jedediah Isler: How I fell in love with quasars, blazars and our incredible universe

Excellence in every form of human endeavor. Black Girl (Woman) Power. Breaking down barriers to science and STEM career fields.

During a time in which so much media attention related to African American people and communities is related to violence and random identity and lifestyle claims to/of Blackness, let us never forget that we have so much more to talk about and share with each other and to expose our children to.

We all have to be firmly aware that we have so much genius all around us, and that this genius is so much more prevalent (even if unnoticed) than the violence and other negative messages we are bombarded with.  This genius is widespread throughout our community, and in every part of this country.  It's up to us to go the extra mile to expose our children, youth and family members to the genius examples that surround them/us all.

One example is the African American astrophysicist, Dr. Jedidah Isler...

Jedidah Isler first fell in love with the night sky as a little girl. Now she’s an astrophysicist who studies supermassive hyperactive black holes. In a charming talk, she takes us trillions of kilometers from Earth to introduce us to objects that can be 1 to 10 billion times the mass of the sun — and which shoot powerful jet streams of particles in our direction.

A TED Talk. Delivered April 2015.

Jedidah Isler has been staring at the stars since she was 11 or 12. But because neither her undergraduate college or the university where she got her first master’s degree offered astronomy majors, she threw herself wholeheartedly into physics. It wasn’t until she entered a doctoral program that she was able to dedicate her time to the studying the night sky. In 2014, she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D in Astrophysics from Yale.

Isler studies blazars — supermassive hyperactive black holes at the center of galaxies, some of which emit powerful streams of particles. Sometimes these are oriented toward Earth, offering us a unique perspective on the physics of the universe. Isler is a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow in Physics at Syracuse University. She participates in the Future Faculty Leader program at Harvard's Center for Astrophysics and was named a 2015 TED Fellow.

Isler is also interested in breaking down barriers that prevent many students — especially women of color — from becoming scienists. She works to make STEM accessible to new communities.


‘One Nation Underemployed’ Shows Blacks Still In Crisis

From NPR:  The National Urban League's new "State of Black America" report finds that African-Americans are still struggling to find jobs, but there's plenty they can do to recover from the recession.

MARTIN: Thank you so much for joining us, Professor Overton. So, Marc Morial, the report is titled "One Nation Underemployed." Why do you focus on underemployment? And I mean, one of the issues we've been reporting on quite extensively in recent years is that the unemployment rate for African-Americans and Latinos has been consistently high. So why are you focusing on underemployment?

MORIAL: Underemployment is sort of a component of the economic challenges we face. So underemployment means a person may be working but - for example, they may be in a full-time job, but want to work in a - or maybe in a part-time job - may want to work in a full-time job. Or they're working, as a woman I recently met, as a cashier at a grocery store, happy to be employed, but qualified to - and spent 24 years as a teacher. So this underemployment problem is not fully captured by simply looking at the joblessness rate or the unemployment rate. And we think it is something that is part of the picture of the recovery since the great recession.

One of the points raised is that African American families should increasingly encourage our children to move into some of the professional fields in which we are overly-invovled as consumers, and under-involved as producers. Such fields include the various STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields:

OVERTON: I think so. One piece here is STEM and the importance of STEM. You know, African-Americans are much more likely to use Twitter, to have a mobile phone than some others, but they are underrepresented in terms of producing in the technology area. And so there's a Joint Center report that found that if we were to increase the rate of STEM-related degrees among African-Americans and Latinos to the same rate as Asian-Americans, we'd add about 140,000 new STEM degree holders every year. That would benefit the economy. It would also go a long way in terms of inequality.