Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Health in the Black Community Free Write

So, this is kinda a free write I’ve been thinking on and hopefully I could get some feedback to help me shape what I hope will be a longer piece on the food/nutrition crisis in Black America.

*Hopping on to the soapbox for a moment* <clears throat>

It is quite clear there is a health epidemic going on in America. The epidemic has to do with food and nutrition, but some of the symptoms are obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. As a Black person I have more family members suffering from one or more of these symptoms than fingers to count on. I know this is true for many Black people and many Black families. Is it acceptable for us to let our family members suffer and be put on high regiments of medicine without addressing the root cause? Do we continue to let our cycle of poor nutrition impact our children?

Who am I to judge, but then again who am I not to? I was too aware of these illnesses that “ran in my family” and had at the age of 18 proclaimed proudly, “everyone else has diabetes I guess I probably will too.” I continued to devour foods with names I couldn’t pronounce, having no real consistency to what foods I chose and how I prepared my foods. To be honest if you asked anyone I went to school with a favorite food of mine most likely they’d name a candy. Of course I knew I wasn’t making healthy choices, but the true impact didn’t really hit me.

For most people, especially younger people, nutrition is typically paired with weight and physical appearance. If you look good on the outside and you are not viewed as overweight most people never question your dietary choices. How many times have you heard people snicker at overweight people at the McDonalds when a thin person at McDonalds is clearly making similar unwise nutritional decisions. This was true of me. I never really thought much about my own nutrition until I had my son and was having trouble getting rid of those post-baby lbs. My body was definitely not bouncing back like all the women that are plastered on magazine covers touting 40 lbs. of baby weight lost in 6 weeks (damn them and their personal trainers)! For me this signified a need for a dietary change and the more I did research and changed my diet the more I was able to see that I too was suffering from this nutritional epidemic that challenges the Black community.

To be fair, this is an American epidemic, but as a Black woman and mother I am most concerned about the impact on Black America. We have been behind the times in many lifestyle changes because of the desire not to be perceived as “uppity” or “acting white.” So be it. I’ll be the uppity Black woman living healthy and happy into old age. I can’t fully express my nutritional views in one post and I definitely won’t try to, but Black people, my people if we can take it one step at a time—give up processed foods. Yes, they are cheaper, but they are cheaper for a reason—-they are barely food. Good food costs more, yes, but it is worth it. I am not saying you need to break the bank and buy 100% organic everything, but look at what foods you buy and think about them critically.

We are one of the few races that regardless of class will drop $300  or more on a hairstyle. And please believe that Black women and men both will spend good money (even money they don’t have) to make sure they are wearing the newest Jordans, designer clothes, expensive acrylic nails, etc. If you can afford to maintain your outer appearance then you can afford to maintain you, your children and your family’s inner “appearance” because that is in fact what truly will make the difference.



  1. And don't forget, more money spent now on good food means less money spent later on prescriptions and treatments for heart disease, diabetes etc!

  2. Good point! A few extra dollars spent on each grocery bill can combat thousands of dollars of prescriptions and doctor' bills. Like Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine."