I woke up this morning thinking about the exit of the first full month of the new year and entry into February. A new administration for the United States of America, yet at the same time a mutating pandemic worldwide.
Black History Month. Black health disparities.
Over the last several years, personally I have experienced highs and lows with my weight, migraines, an ongoing skin condition, sluggishness, sleepless nights, thinning hair, brain fog, and so much more. Admittedly, I have been distracted and have increasingly sick from paying attention to the wrong things. Stress. Concern. Worry. The health challenges are ever before us. But now is time for us to be intentional and to do something about what we face daily. We could sit back and continue to cry foul or we can step it up and make some life changes.
During the current pandemic I have continued my amateur research and found a report dated September 9, 2020, on Pfizer news:
“While the spotlight right now may be on the disadvantages African Americans face while fighting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they are also disadvantaged throughout the health care system when combating other diseases.”
Compared to white counterparts, African Americans are generally at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, according to the Office of Minority Health, part of the Department for Health and Human Services. One possible contributing factor: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says African Americans are more likely to die at early ages for all causes, as young African Americans are living with diseases that are typically more common at older ages for other races. For example:
- High blood pressure is common in 12% vs. 10% of blacks vs. whites aged 18-34 years, respectively. It is common in 33% vs. 22% of those aged 35-49 years, respectively.
- Diabetes is common in 10% of blacks aged 35-49 compared to 6% of whites.
- Stroke is present in 0.7% of blacks aged 18-34 compared to 0.4% of whites the same age. Stroke is common in 2% of African Americans compared to 1% of whites aged 35-49 and 7% vs. 4%, respectively, in those aged 50-64.
The CDC notes that social factors compared to others in the U.S., specifically whites, affect African Americans at younger ages: unemployment, living in poverty, not owning a home, cost-prohibitive effects of trying to see an MD, smoking, inactive lifestyle, or obesity.” [https://www.pfizer.com/news/hot-topics/health_disparities_among_african_americans]
Is being Black really bad for my health? Scientists and sociologists seem to affirm.
The CDC issued a report on July 24, 2020, which said, “Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. The term “racial and ethnic minority groups” includes people of color from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. But some experiences are common to many people within these groups, and social determinants of health have historically prevented them from having fair opportunities for economic, physical, and emotional health.
There is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Inequities in the social determinants of health, such as poverty and healthcare access, affecting these groups are interrelated and influence a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. To achieve health equity, barriers must be removed so that everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html]
Again the CDC states, “To achieve health equity, carriers must be removed so that everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” No. we won’t wait until someone else removes the barriers. We must write our own narrative and begin moving the hurdles we have put in place.
It was 3:33 in the morning on January 31, 2021, and my mind was spinning. Do I lie here knowing there are barriers and do nothing ignoring the signs, or will I get up and begin doing something about it?
I dozed off for a little while, but awakened to see 5:02 am on the clock. Gail, get up. Your life depends upon it.
Time to change my mindset.
Time to be intentional about my health and wellbeing.
Time to write my narrative as it pertains to my whole life. Mind. Body. Spirit.
Elliptical. Stationary Bike. Rowing Machine. Free Weights. 30-minutes.
I did it, and it felt good. Great start, now I must continue. Today was my practice run into February. I’m in. Are you?
For Black History Month, I plan to take the entire month of February and dedicate it to my health as a Black woman. Diabetes might be staring me in the face. Obesity is trying to knock me out. Poor eating habits are slowing me down. At the age of 55 my metabolism is slowing. These can be either excuses to do nothing or motivation to do what is necessary.
With my mom in and out of the hospital, I began to ask questions about our family health. Grandpa. Grandma. Mom. Dad. Siblings. Aunts. Uncles. On both sides, there are real health concerns. Why didn’t I do a history check before now? Maybe I thought I was invincible. Regardless, I am taking the next 28 days and move towards a healthier lifestyle.
Here’s a transparent moment. I have been at this crossroad before. However, with the coronavirus inching closer and closer to me within my immediate family and friends, I took a deep breath deciding to take action.
How can I daily share the US COVID-19 numbers with viewers of News in Motion and not take action with my own health? Isn’t that a double standard? Wearing a mask? Yes. Washing my hands? Yes. Practicing social distancing? Yes. Taking care of my health? Absolutely.
Won’t you join me throughout February and be intentional with your health?
Let’s work to decrease the numbers listed in the Pfizer and the CDC report.
Let’s educate one another on the disparities.
Let’s discuss homeownership and take a good look at our credit and finances.
Let’s build one another up by encouraging entrepreneurship.
Let’s identify farmers, Black farmers, particularly during Black History Month.
Let’s share healthy recipes.
Let’s get physical by spending 30-minutes a day doing some sort of exercise.
Let’s practice self-care.
Will you commit to doing something about your overall health beginning February 1, 2021? Let me know by commenting, “I’m in,” below.
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