Black History Month is a time dedicated to celebrating the achievements and spreading awareness about issues that affect the Black community. This February, we want to look into the relationship between race and hearing loss.
According to the Hearing Health Foundation, nearly two million black Americans have a hearing impairment. However, additional research has shown that the odds of experiencing hearing loss are lower for black Americans than white. Epidemiologic studies of large populations have since found that the rate of hearing loss is between 40-60% lower in black individuals compared to white individuals.
It is important to remember that although black individuals are at less risk of experiencing a form of hearing loss, they are not exempt from it. There are still almost two million black Americans who suffer from hearing loss. Even if your race or ethnicity decreases the chance that you will contract some form of a hearing impairment, the best way to ensure healthy hearing is to take protective measures before you start experiencing symptoms.
Notable Black Americans With Hearing Loss
As we continue to celebrate Black History Month this February, let’s take a look at eight notable Black Americans who have combated against their hearing loss to make their dreams a reality, courtesy of Garden and State Hearing:
- Whoopi Goldberg
Academy Award winning actress, activist, writer, comedian, and moderator of The View, Whoopi Goldberg suffers from hearing loss and wears two hearing aids. According to published reports, Goldberg attributes her hearing loss with years of listening to loud music. Whoopi Goldberg has been open about her hearing loss and advises her fans to take care of their hearing health.
- Derrick Coleman
After losing his hearing as a child, at just three years old, Derrick Coleman is the NFL’s first legally deaf offensive player. Coleman has played for the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and the Arizona Cardinals. In 2014, Derrick Coleman’s efforts helped the Seahawks win the Superbowl. His nonprofit, Derrick L. Coleman No Excuses Foundation was created to help give back to hearing-impaired children, teens, and adults.
- Tamika Catchings
Catchings was born with hearing loss, but uses that experience to help fuel her drive to win at everything she puts her mind to. Tamicka Catchings is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and retired WNBA player for the Indiana Fever.
- Andrew Foster
In 1954, Foster became the first deaf African-American to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet University, a renowned school for hard-of-hearing and deaf students. Andrew Foster went on to earn two master’s degrees and launched more than 30 schools for the deaf in many different African nations. Before his death, Foster was a missionary to the deaf in Ghana, Rwanda and other African countries.
- Halle Berry
Oscar-winning actress, beauty-brand spokesperson, and activist Halle Berry didn’t allow her hearing loss to affect her career. After an alleged domestic-violence act left hard of hearing, Berry has since gone on to be a movie and television producer, and continues to add to her acting career today.
Global entertainer Will.i.am suffers from tinnitus, a form of hearing loss, that he describes as a constant ringing in his ears. Most known for his musical hits with the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am is also a producer, DJ, and designer. Will.i.am has also won both a Grammy and an Emmy.
- Claudia Gordon
Gordon migrated to the United States from Jamaica with her mother at only eleven years old. After losing her hearing as a child, Claudia Gordon did not let her setbacks affect her career. She went on to become the first deaf black female attorney in the United States. Additionally, Gordon also helps aid those who are disabled as a lawyer in the federal executive branch under former President Barack Obama.
- Connie Briscoe
Born with hearing loss, Briscoe, never let her disability bring her down. In her early career, Briscoe worked as a managing editor for the American Annals of the Deaf, which is an academic journal published by Gallaudet University Press. Her first novel, Sisters and Lovers, was released in 1994 and sold nearly 500,000 hardcover and paperback copies in its first two years. She has since gone on to write New York Times best selling books including Big Girls Don’t Cry and Money Love Can’t Buy.