By Joshunda Sanders
From Metta World Peace to Rudy Eugene, African-Americans confronting mental health challenges are often portrayed as isolated examples of crazy or deranged people rather than members of a marginalized community suffering an illness.
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, established in 2008 in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, an acclaimed author and mental health advocate. But beyond the black blogosphere and social networking events, the dismal state of black mental health treatment and awareness hasn’t been covered by mainstream print, online and broadcast media.
Before she died at age 56 in 2006, Campbell was an advocate for mental health awareness through organizing and her writing. Her children’s novel, “Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry,“ was given the 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It is about a girl who learns how to cope with her mother’s bipolar disorder.
In 2005, Campbell wrote “72 Hour Hold,” a novel focusing on an adult daughter, the onset of mental illness and challenges faced by mentally ill African-Americans in America’s health care system. The book is believed to have been inspired by the experience of her daughter, actress Maia Campbell, with mental illness.
Journalists, writers and experts cite many reasons why the mainstream media don’t cover African-American mental health responsibly or consistently. Among them are racism, lack of context about how African-Americans interact with the health care system and stigmas that remain entrenched in the black community and discourage those who struggle with depression, schizophrenia or other mental health problems from discussing them.
“Mental health in general has been a sub-beat in the mainstream media,” says journalist Amy Alexander, co-author with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint of the 2001 book, “Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis among African-Americans.” Rarely do mainstream media outlets have the luxury of assigning a reporter to cover only mental health since most are now responsible for several beats simultaneously.
A prominent exception was Clifford J. Levy, now a New York Times editor. He won the + for investigative reporting, and a George Polk Award, for a three-part series exposing sometimes fatal neglect of the mentally ill in privately run adult homes regulated by New York State.
Alexander says, “It used to be that no one would write about mental health, and the way it would be covered would be piecemeal in the context of a report coming out from the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] or the National Institutes of Health. Or you would see a story pop up around a horrific event.”
Since Alexander’s and Poussaint’s book was published, little has changed. The bizarre case of Rudy Eugene, 31, an African-American in Miami who chewed off a homeless man’s face in May before being shot to death, made “bath salts” a buzz phrase nationwide.
Eugene took his clothes off along the MacArthur Causeway from Miami Beach before attacking Ronald Poppo, 65, in what The Miami Herald called a “ghoulish, drawn-out assault in plain view on a city sidewalk captured by a Miami Herald security camera. Eugene was shot by a police officer who found him chewing chunks off Poppo’s face.”
The head of the Miami police union publicly speculated that “bath salts,” synthetic stimulants believed to be the cause of psychotic episodes elsewhere around the country, prompted Eugene’s actions. But, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office, only marijuana was found in his system.
More likely, Kristen Gwynne wrote for the online magazine AlterNet, is that Eugene had a history of mental illness. “But pinning a tragedy to a drug scare is easier (and perhaps more lucrative) than explaining a non-existent safety net for the mentally ill,” she wrote. “Bath salts, the mainstream media naively believes, can be banned and eradicated. Treating mental illness is a far more complicated story.”
Other than sensationalized portraits of individuals, the only consistent coverage of mental illness in the black community focuses on the psychological fallout of depression and other mental health issues facing black celebrities.
These portrayals are opportunities for mainstream media to explore larger questions about the escalating suicide rate among black men, the entrenched stigma of appearing weak and vulnerable in the black community by seeking help and the dearth of African-American mental health professionals. Instead, stories focus on the unique narrative surrounding individual celebrities and not mental health problems of a broader community.
When “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in February at age 75, far more media attention was given to his legacy than his mental state. Instead, his stoicism was noted in a New York Times obituary. During divorce proceedings in 2009, James C. McKinley Jr. wrote, Cornelius “mentioned having ‘significant health problems’ but did not elaborate.” Another friend of Cornelius’s simply described him as being “very private.”
When World Peace, a Los Angeles Lakers player formerly known as Ron Artest, has spoken honestly and publicly about his therapy for mental health issues, reporters have mocked him. In September 2010, a year before Artest changed his name, Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke referred to him as “the looniest Laker” even as Artest was addressing middle schoolers, urging them to communicate to health care professionals what ails them psychologically.
Journalist and author Ellis Cose says these examples explore “celebrities much more so than the black community.”In 1994, Cose wrote “The Rage of a Privileged Class: Why Are Middle-Class Blacks Angry? Why Should America Care?” and last year, “The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage.”
Neither the Cornelius obituary nor Plaschke’s column, for the most part, was linked explicitly to race. Poussaint, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, did suggest that Cornelius’s death might launch a conversation about suicide prevention among blacks. “But his take was the exception rather than the rule,” Cose wrote in an e-mail.
Even when the topic is more about black celebrity than race, mental illness, particularly in famous athletes, is viewed as “evidence of a criminal character,” says David J. Leonard, author of “After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness.” He is an associate professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University.
“Media go immediately to focusing on the purported pathologies of the players themselves and don’t want to see what the broader context is,” Leonard says. “The history of race and mental health is a history of racism and the white medical establishment demonizing and criminalizing the black community through writing about their ‘abnormal personalities’ and being ‘crazy.’
“That history plays out in mainstream media coverage, but it also affects public discussions about mental health because it has so often been used to justify exclusion, segregation and inequality” in mental health treatment for African-Americans.
Online alternative media and black-oriented websites such as The Root, theGrio and independent blogs have reported more consistently and thoroughly on mentally ill African-Americans.
Danielle Belton, who blogs at blacksnob.com, has written for bp Magazine (bphope.com) about her perspective as someone with bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, according to webmd.com. Recently, Bassey Ikpi, a writer and blogger working on a book about her bipolar disorder diagnosis in 2004, founded The Siwe Project, a global nonprofit, as a forum for African-Americans to share experiences about mental health in the black community.
To encourage dialogue about a topic rarely discussed publicly, Ikpi created No Shame Day on July 2. On social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, African-Americans worldwide shared stories of navigating mental health in a culture that actively discourages blacks from seeking talk therapy, she says.
“We didn’t get any mainstream media coverage for No Shame Day,” Ikpi says. “There were 80,000 mentions of No Shame Day and The Siwe Project within a six- to eight-hour period on July 2. No Essence, Ebony or Huffington Post. I think it’s changing a little bit, but mainstream media is not moving with the same speed as online publications.”
At least partial resistance to mainstream reporting on black mental health is tied to blacks’ historical stoicism and belief that religion can serve as a substitute for professional therapy or, when necessary, medication.
“We have survived Jim Crow, beating, lynchings and fire hoses,” says Mychal Denzel Smith, a mental health advocate, commentator and writer. “We pride ourselves on strength. I spoke at a high school, and the teacher said, ‘Black folks just don’t have time to be depressed.’
“Of all the things that we’re up against, mental health seems to be last on the list, but if you look at the totality of our experience in America, it can lead to mental illness. But it seems like the last thing you would need to address among all of the ills that plague our community.”
No Shame Day and The Siwe Project are important starting points for continuing a conversation outside mainstream media about the importance of self-care, Smith says.
“What Bassey did with No Shame Day was very proactive activism . . . it’s something she’s been planning for some time. It’s about taking control and being proactive in defining our narrative for us instead of waiting for other people to do it.
“That’s the thing about mental health that we have to know – not waiting for someone to diagnose us. We know that there’s something wrong in our community. There’s something wrong with that uncle that’s always drunk or the aunt that’s on drugs. We have to be more proactive in addressing these issues and making sure that we take our health into account.”
Joshunda Sanders writes media critiques for the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Her stories and other media critiques are available atwww.mije.org/mmcsi and can be republished free of charge. For more information, please contact Elisabeth Pinio at [email protected] or 510-891-9202.
We all know how important it is to start the day of with a good breakfast, especially if you’re active! Here’s a great vegan breakfast burrito recipe I found on Oh She Glows, and I can’t wait to try it. It’s full of protein, and it will definitely help you get your day started on the right track!
High Protein Vegan Breakfast Burrito
1 package extra-firm tofu, rinsed and pressed
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 cups diced sweet onion
1 cup diced potato
1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3-4 tbsp. minced fresh basil
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1-1.5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. kosher salt and black pepper
Chopped pineapple, salsa, Daiya cheese, green onion, Herbamare, or whatever you like for the garnish.
1. To press the tofu: Rinse the tofu with water and place a few kitchen towels on the counter. Wrap the tofu with another towel, place another towel on top, and finally place several heavy cookbooks on top. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to soak out the water.
2. Heat a large skillet with 1 tsp. oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic and onion for a few minutes over medium heat. Add in the diced potato and mushrooms and sauté for 12 minutes, reducing heat if necessary and stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
3. Remove tofu from towels and dice on chopping board. You want the tofu very small. Reduce heat to low and stir in the nutritional yeast, tofu, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking on low until potato is cooked through, only a few more minutes, if necessary.
4. Add 3/4 cup of the mixture on a large tortilla wrap, spoon on salsa, and top with Daiya cheese and chopped green onion if desired.
New York, NY (BlackNews.com) — With the alarming and still growing social, economic, and health disparities in the Black American community, one might think it’s too overwhelming to take on such an enormous responsibility of trying to overcome them. Fortunately, one young lady had the foresight to say, “There is still opportunity to reverse the negative trends impacting the Black American community. We shall continue to overcome.”
Four years ago, as President Obama embarked on his first year in the White House, Sonja McCord was working tirelessly to develop a pageant system that would serve as a social enterprise and an enrichment program – a program that would create a new generation of promising Black leaders. Her solution: the Miss Black United States Program.
Officially launched, the Miss Black United States Program is a cultural, enrichment program which seeks to provide social leadership, development, and charity through an institute of learning. “We are creating a new generation leaders who are problem solvers, accomplished, and polished, while servicing those who are in need. The concept is simple, empowering others while empowering ourselves,”says McCord. The program will train leaders and provide them with the support to achieve their educational, professional, artistic, and community ambitions.
Every year, 51 young women will be educated in advocacy, leadership, beauty, elegance, self-development, entrepreneurship, and fitness – the skills and qualities that make up the quintessential beauty queen. The program distinguishes itself from other pageants because it first provides the enrichment program via the Miss Black United States Program, second, the ability to showcase what they’ve learned via the Miss Black Untied States Pageant, and third, the resources to put those concepts into practice for an entire year during their reign as Miss Black United States or their respective state queen.
In 2013, the organization will inaugurate the first Miss Black United States National Pageant, culminating the conclusion of a rigorous enrichment program and celebrating the accomplishments of 51 innovative, experienced, and empowered leaders. Entry into the competition begins with an online competition launched July 22nd. The program is open to natural born females ages 20-35 who have at least 25% African lineage and identify themselves as Black American. Applications for the national preliminary competition are open through the official website, www.missblackunitedstates.com, and require a small fee of $150.
“The Miss Black United States Program exists not as a means to exclude non-African American citizens…”It is a cultural organization created to solve America’s most pressing problems that directly impact the Black American population. The program seeks to reverse negative trends, celebrate Black beauty, empower young leaders, and work to overcome social, health, and economic disparities in the Black American community. Simply stated, “…Tackling Black American issues and strengthening the Black American community will help reinvigorate America, overall. This is a new spirit of patriotism,” remarks Sonja McCord.
For more information, visit the official website at www.missblackunitedstates.com or email [email protected]
NEW ORLEANS, LA, July 16, 2012 – On Saturday, July 14, at Sigma Gamma Rho’s biennial Boule celebration in New Orleans, La., USA Swimming representatives announced its new partnership with the historically black sorority. The effort is part of USA Swimming’s SwimToday campaign, a national recruiting effort aimed at arming parents with the information and resources they need to get their children involved in the sport for its health and safety benefits.
A first of its kind for both Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and USA Swimming, this partnership will accomplish the following:
1) Make water safety education and learn to swim programs a part of the sorority’s mandatory member curriculum and community service outreach beginning this fall.
2) Provide an easy entry into the sport of swimming through the sorority’s more than 100,000 members and 500 chapters across the United States.
3) Make water safety a mandatory part of their Rhoer Curriculum as well as part of their youth symposium and Project Reassurance teachings.
Under the terms of the newfound partnership, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. will function as an extension of USA Swimming’s online SwimToday.org platform, which provides the tools, resources and information that individuals of all ages need to learn to swim, find a learn to swim or competitive swim program, meet their fitness goals and be active in the sport. Visit www.swimtoday.org to view these resources.
“Our new partnership with USA Swimming is a perfect fit within Sigma Gamma Rho’s ongoing efforts to safeguard our youth through our Project Reassurance umbrella theme of Healthy Choices, Healthy Living, Healthy Generations,” says Joann Loveless, International President of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. “Research shows that youth who participate in sports experience a multitude of benefits such as: an increase in discipline, lower teenage pregnancy rates, better grades and higher self-esteem. This collaboration with USA Swimming provides our sisterhood the opportunity to promote these ideals within the local communities of each of our chapters through water safety education and childhood swimming lessons.”
By providing Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. chapters with resources and support to aid in educating its members on a local, regional and national level, USA Swimming hopes to educate the Sigma Gamma Rho community on the benefits of and opportunities available within the sport of swimming. This fall, USA Swimming and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. will also develop a sorority-specific call-to-action initiative that will focus on highlighting water safety on the grassroots level within their chapters’ communities.
“Partnering with Sigma Gamma Rho offers us the opportunity to reach thousands of families across the nation, and to provide them with a simple entry point into the sport of swimming.” said Matt Farrell, USA Swimming’s Chief Marketing Officer. “By empowering individuals with the resources they need to get their kids started in the sport, we are, helping keep kids safer around the water while opening the door to a beneficial and life-long fitness activity. With all eyes on the pool in London, we also hope that partnerships like this one will help diversify our sport, and increase participation by a historically underrepresented group.”
2012 marks a historic year for USA Swimming as the U.S. Team has never had more than a single team member of African-American descent and none before the 2000 Sydney Games. This year’s London-bound Olympians of African-American descent include veterans Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin who are returning gold medalists from 2008 and 2000, respectively, and newcomer Lia Neal who, at 17, is the second African-American woman to ever make a U.S. Olympic Swim Team and the first since Olympic Silver Medalist Maritza Correia in 2004. Lia Neal, who is also half Chinese-American, joins a winning legacy of Asian-American women Olympic swimmers like Evelyn Kawamoto (two-time bronze medalist at 1952 Helsinki games), Catherine Fox (two-time gold medalist at 1996 Atlanta games), and Natalie Coughlin, who is returning to London for her third Olympics and is an 11-time Olympic medalist. Nathan Adrian, who is Chinese-American, will also swim for the U.S. again in London having already claimed Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008.
“With the ever-increasing diversity of the sport on the world stage, it is of the utmost importance for USA Swimming to play a proactive role in helping kids become safer around the water as well as to provide opportunities for them to excel both as a team and as individuals,” said Talia Mark, Multicultural Marketing Manager for USA Swimming. “With all eyes on the pool in London, we hope to inspire kids of all backgrounds to get involved in the sport, this is where we believe Sigma Gamma Rho’s expertise in community outreach can play an integral role.”
Throughout 2012 and beyond, USA Swimming looks to continue to expand the reach of the important message of water safety education and learn to swim programs, as well as the benefits of swimming for health and fitness, and increase the accessibility of competitive swimming programs through its SwimToday.org campaign and partnerships like this one with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
For more information about getting involved with USA Swimming, to learn to swim, to join a competitive swim team or to swim for health and fitness, please visit http://www.swimtoday.org.
*= Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S., and more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, 60-70 percent of the U.S.’s African-American and Hispanic children cannot swim, and African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than that of their Caucasian peers. Of children who come from a non-swimming household, only 13 percent of them will ever learn to swim, according to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis. Drowning is also a silent killer as most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time, according to the Present P. Child Drowning study.
About USA Swimming
As the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States, USA Swimming is a 300,000-member service organization that promotes the culture of swimming by creating opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education. Our membership is comprised of swimmers from the age group level to the Olympic Team, as well as coaches and volunteers. USA Swimming is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic Games, and strives to serve the sport through its core objectives: Build the base, Promote the sport, Achieve competitive success. For more information, visit http://www.usaswimming.org. About Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was founded on November 12, 1922 on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana by seven schoolteachers. The sorority’s aim is to enhance the quality of life in the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmark of the organization’s programs and activities. To learn more about Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and its service initiatives, log onto http://www.sgrho1922.org.
by: Chef Ahki
“sugar is without question the number one murderer in the history of humanity.”
In 1960, Japanese doctor Nyoiti Sakurazawa noted, “no Western doctor can cure diabetes, even thirty years after the discovery of insulin. Physicians have continued to recommend insulin, condemning diabetics to walk with an insulin crutch for the rest of their lives, yet on the 25th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, the inefficiency of insulin as a treatment or cure for diabetes was publicly admitted. In the meantime, millions of diabetics have paid millions of dollars for this ineffective remedy. The number of diabetics is increasing every day. Once they begin taking insulin, they can expect to feed the pockets of the doctors and pharmaceutical corporations as long as they live.”
In 1964, Sakurazawa said, “I am confident that Western medicine will admit what has been known in the Orient for years: sugar is without question the number one murderer in the history of humanity – much more lethal than opium or radioactive fallout. Sugar is the greatest evil that modern industrial civilization has visited upon the countries of the Far East and Africa (genocide)…foolish people who give or sell candy to babies will one day, to their horror, have much to answer for.”
Sugar can also make you dumb…
Eating too much sugar can eat away at your brainpower, according to US scientists who published a study Tuesday showing how a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup sapped lab rats’ memories.
Digestive problems are a modern day epidemic in Westernized cultures. Major disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diarrhea and constipation are all too frequent. The modern day diet and lifestyle is loaded with toxins and deficient in high quality live foods full of enzymes and probiotics. Improve your digestive health naturally with an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.
The gut houses ten times more microbial species than the overall amount of cells in the entire body. These microbial species break down food pieces into small nutrients that absorb into the bloodstream. They also help to detoxify the body and aid in immunity. The ratio of progenic (life giving) to pathogenic (disease causing) microbes should be 85:15. When this ratio gets out of whack it leads to chronic inflammation in the gut and subsequent digestive problems.
Clean water is absolutely essential for health digestion. Most people are drinking water that is laced with chlorine, disinfectant byproducts (DBP’s) and other environmental toxins. Chlorine and DBP’s sterilize the water and when consumed will sterilize the body. By destroying progenic cultures the body is susceptible to opportunistic pathogenic species such as Candida. This results in digestive problems and inflammatory conditions within the body.
The best water to consume is from a natural spring or through a reverse osmosis filtration system. The natural spring water is the most bioenergetically alive and often contains some healthy bacteria. Reverse osmosis filtration works great for anyone in more metropolitan areas where natural springs are not available. Add fresh squeezed lemon and/or apple cider vinegar to your water as often as possible to add anti-oxidants, organic acids and enzymes.
Anti-inflammatory foods reduce inflammatory activity in the body and help heal the gut. Great anti-inflammatory foods include coconut products, avocados, olive oil, berries & phytonutrient rich vegetables. Healthy meat sources such as grass-fed beef, wild game, wild salmon, organic poultry and organic eggs are great as long as the gut can tolerate them effectively. Utilizing apple cider vinegar and/or fresh squeezed lemon can help the body digest heavy proteins.
Fermented Foods Boost Digestive Function
Foods that are naturally fermented help inoculate the gut with healthy microbial species. Homemade sauerkraut, kombucha, coconut water kefir, and kimchi are great. Fermented dairy products from grass-fed cows/goats are highly advisable. These include amasai, fermented whey drinks & raw cheese. Often times a probiotic supplement with bio-diverse range of cultures and over 50 billion colony forming units is advisable.
Non-denatured whey protein from grass-fed cows is also very good for rebuilding the gut. Whey is loaded with L-glutamine and enhances cellular glutathione stores which are both needed to repair the intestinal wall and de-inflame the body. Powerful herbs such as turmeric, g garlic, onion, rosemary, & oregano among others should be used as much as possible to improve immune coordination.
Carminatives are herbs that stimulate the digestive system to work better. These herbs contain a high content of volatile oils that are effective at expelling gas and easing griping pains from the stomach and intestines. They also tone the mucous surfaces & increase peristaltic action within the esophagus, stomach. This peristaltic action propels food and wastes through the system.
The major carminative herbs include coriander, cinnamon, ginger, juniper, anise, fennel, cloves, caraway, dill, peppermint, thyme and licorice. These carminatives are often combined with aloe. Aloe is a cathartic herb that increases intestinal transit time and is used to alleviate constipation. These herbs help to tone down the powerful gripping effect that aloe often promotes in the gut. This combination helps stimulate effective and comfortable stools for those with chronic constipation.
For the most relevant and cutting-edge information in the world of health and wellness there are numerous sources. One source is: Dr. David Jockers [email protected] if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about your health contact him.
A wonderful minority owned, organic juice company to know about is: www.YogiJuiceBar.com
Contact her at: [email protected]
- By: Jenée Desmond-Harris (Theroot.com)
- Obesity is more common in African Americans than in other ethnic groups. But when it comes to black people and weight, that’s where the agreement seems to end. Is food the culprit? Is exercise the solution? Is there even a real problem to begin with, or should we be focusing on health — or even self-acceptance — rather than the number on the scale?
- Against the backdrop of the first lady’s mission to slim down the nation’s kids, black celebs getting endorsements after shedding inches and a booming weight-loss industry.
- For the 10th in the series, we spoke to Dr. Ian K. Smith, author of The Fat Smash Diet, Extreme Fat Smash Diet, The 4 Day Diet and Happy: Simple Steps for Getting the Life You Want. He is a medical contributor on The Rachael Ray Show and host of the nationally syndicated radio show HealthWatch on American Urban Radio Networks. He was also the medical and diet expert for six seasons on VH1’s highly rated Celebrity Fit Club. In addition, he is the creator and founder of two far-reaching national health initiatives — the 50 Million Pound Challenge and the Makeover Mile — and was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
- As African Americans, Smith says, “We have to separate aesthetic beauty versus medical fitness.” He told us about why he believes the Steve Harveys and Tom Joyners of the world have a role in spreading this message and why, even though he is a self-proclaimed “diet guy,” physical activity is his most important prescription for health.
- The Root: According to the latest statistics, African Americans are 1.5 times as likely as whites to be obese. What’s going on, from your perspective, with black people, obesity and overall health?
- Ian K. Smith: There are a lot of cultural entrenchments that keep us on the wrong side of the scale. African Americans, for generations, have eaten a certain way that, while satisfying one’s appetite and one’s sense of taste, has had deleterious effects on us from a physical standpoint. We didn’t think about this 80, 90 and 100 years ago — it was just the way we ate. The way in which we eat has had this long-lasting impact on us, and it’s been a very difficult habit to break. Dietary habits are some of the most notorious habits to try to break.
- The other part of it is that it requires either education or the belief that you can connect the dots between eating poorly and one’s health. I think we’ve lagged behind the curve in the African-American community in making that connection. I think we’re starting to do that now as we see the skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes and heart disease. But what we’re seeing now is a manifestation of years of dietary neglect and years of lack of knowledge as to the fact that eating poorly will have negative effects on us.
- TR: When it comes to African Americans and obesity, what is the biggest myth or misunderstanding?
- IKS: There’s so much. African Americans have to really listen to messages and the advice about the dangers of poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. Here’s the deal with us: We have to not just pay lip service to the idea that we have to change our habits. There are not many people on Earth, regardless of education, who don’t realize that eating poorly is going to lead to medical complications. That battle is won. Just like people know that drugs are not good for you, but people still use drugs.
- What we have to figure out in the African-American community is how to get people to realize that even a slight modification in behavior can make a major difference in the risk profile that we disproportionately suffer from. That’s our task. We have to keep sounding the bell. The Steve Harveys of the world, the Tom Joyners, the local school board members … everyone has a role to play in the fight.
- TR: If you could make just one suggestion for people to implement in their daily lives with respect to weight and health, what would it be?
- IKS: Physical activity. Physical activity is the absolute number one thing that promotes better weight management and long-term health. Diet plays a big part, too, but if I could only write one prescription, it would be 30 to 40 minutes of moderate physical activity four to five days a week. Physical activity can affect your blood vessels, it can affect the blood flow to your heart and to your brain, your muscle, your balance, your bone. I’m a diet guy, but if I had to choose one, I would choose physical fitness.
- TR: Are there any other cultural, historical or psychological issues that you think make the black community’s relationship with weight and health unique?
- IKS: From a cultural standpoint, [we] have had a very romantic version of what is considered to be healthy physically. When African Americans have historically talked about being healthy, our image is much different from the medical definition. So we’ve had to spend the last years or so trying to reconcile what we’ve grown up believing is a great body habitus, versus what is a proper body habitus for good medical clearance.
- You have celebrities and a lot of [influencers] who are overweight or obese and are saying it’s fine, it’s beautiful, there’s nothing wrong with it. That message is a very dangerous message. As African Americans, we need to separate aesthetic beauty versus medical fitness. And yes, you can love yourself aesthetically being overweight, but we should not settle for that when it is medically damaging.
- Follow Dr. Ian Smith on Twitter.
- Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root‘s staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.
Nzinga Khalid founded Mind, Body & Soul Dancers, Inc. (MBSD) in August 2010. The group was incorporated as a non-profit organization in December 2011. Their mission is to employ line dancing as a means of reducing aggression, depression and inactivity in adults and youth.
MBSD, Inc. partners with a variety of schools and community-based organizations to teach urban line dancing, which they believe exercises minds, strengthen bodies, and nourish souls. MBSD, Inc. participates in annual local festivals and celebrations such as Juneteenth Day, Garfield Days, Kwanzaa & many more spreading their slogan “Be Healthy Yall!”
MBSD, Inc. has joined forces with Omni Family Medical Clinic to offer 20 free line dance classes to help combat obesity and chronic health conditions. Classes are offered on Mondays 5:30-7:30 pm and Saturdays 11:30am-1pm at the 1134 W. North Avenue clinic location. Classes are also offered on Thursdays 5:30-7:30pm at the 7810 W. Good Hope Avenue clinic location. Start getting fit and call (414) 586-9255 schedule an appointment.
Urban line dancing is a fun way to implement a regular exercise regimen and socialize. Several participants in the Tuesday night class – held at the Wisconsin African American Women’s Center (WAAW), 3020 W. Vliet St. – recently joined members of MBSD at the United We Dance 11th Annual Urban Line Dance Convention held in Indianapolis, IN.
MBSD, Inc. is sponsoring a casino bus trip fundraiser to Horseshoe in Hammond, IN on Saturday, July 28th, 2012.
Additionally, MBSD, Inc. will hold the 2nd Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, August 25 at the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters Hall, 7717 W. Good Hope Avenue, 8pm- 1am. The theme is “Mad Hatters & Sexy Sundresses.” This event will be well attended with guest line dance instructors from Chicago, Indianapolis, and Detroit.
To contact MBSD, Inc. visit their website at www.mbsdancers.com
Rosalie Manor Community & Family Services invites youth between the ages of 12-17 to attend a free program this summer.
The program promotes teen pregnancy prevention and utilizes the curriculum, Making Proud Choices. The goal of the program is to empower youth to make decisions that will reduce their risk of becoming a teen parent or contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
The FREE youth program will run August 2 – August 30 and is offered in one session:
•Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Registration for this program is required. Please contact Arleta Cobb at 414-847-0053 to register or for more information.
The Making Proud Choices group will be held at Rosalie Manor, 4803 W. Burleigh St.
Rosalie Manor Community & Family Services has a long history of strengthening at-risk families in Milwaukee.
What began as a residence for single pregnant women in 1908 has evolved into a comprehensive community-based social service agency serving mothers, fathers and youth. Rosalie Manor’s mission, “Strengthening Milwaukee families by empowering parents to be nurturing and by guiding youth toward positive futures” is pursued by:
• Ensuring that mothers have the knowledge and skills to provide a healthy environment that promotes positive outcomes for themselves and their children;
• Assisting fathers to be involved, caring and responsible parents in the lives of their children; and
Educating and inspiring youth to prevent teen pregnancy, build healthy relationships and become effective decision makers.
Information about hip replacement—including reasons to have the surgery, how to prepare for and recover from it, and ways to avoid complications—has been added to NIHSeniorHealth.gov, the senior-friendly health and wellness website from the National Institutes of Health. Consumers can visit http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hipreplacement/whoneeds/01.html to learn more about this surgery, which occurs most often among people between 60 and 80 years of age.
The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is pain and disability from osteoarthritis of the hip, which occurs when cartilage in the joint breaks down, causing bones to rub together. “Osteoarthritis of the hip can lead to severe pain and stiffness, impairing one’s ability to function normally,” said Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), which developed the topic for NIHSeniorHealth.
Although hip replacement is typically a highly successful procedure and an effective treatment for arthritis, the decision to have the surgery is not always an easy one, especially for older adults. “Surgery of any type involves risk, and older adults might understandably be hesitant about having hip replacement surgery,” says Dr. Katz. “But if less invasive treatments such as medications and physical therapy have not helped, hip replacement has proven to be an effective way to relieve pain and restore function.”
Adequate preparation for surgery and appropriate arrangements for an extended recovery are critical to a successful outcome, and the new topic includes helpful details about the importance of physical therapy and arranging for assistance after surgery. “Older adults considering hip replacement surgery would benefit greatly from reading this new addition to NIHSeniorHealth,” adds Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which collaborated on the topic with NIAMS. “It is an excellent source of information about the surgery itself, as well as the pre- and post-operative phases of the procedure.”
The Hip Replacement topic on NIHSeniorHealth, joins a roster of nearly 60 research-based health topics of interest to older adults, including exercise and physical activity, safe use of medicines and management of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. A joint effort of the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at NIH, NIHSeniorHealth has senior-friendly features such as large print and opened-captioned videos to make the information on the site easy to see, understand and navigate. Recently redesigned for today’s older adults, who have some experience using the Internet to search for health information, NIHSeniorHealth now features a search function that enhances finding what seniors are looking for on the site.
NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
NLM is the world’s largest library of the health sciences and collects, organizes and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals and the public. For more information, visit the website at www.nlm.nih.gov.
The mission of NIAMS, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, is to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about NIAMS, call the information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS website at http://www.niams.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health