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Tené T. Lewis Asks Is Michelle Obama doing enough for Black Women’s Health?

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Tené T. Lewis, an associate professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and Op Ed Project Public Voices Fellow discusses the need for a “Michelle Obama-led campaign with support from the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and/or the American Cancer Society.” Do you think such a campaign would make an impact?

From childhood obesity, to racial profiling, from school segregation to a lack of opportunities for men and boys of color, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have found ways to creatively spotlight many of the major concerns confronting the African-American community and, most importantly, create a national conversation around these issues.   Remarkably however, throughout all of these conversations around race and/or health, there has been a noticeable lack of attention to African-American women, and in particular, their health.  Which raises the question:  How is it possible to have an African-American woman on one of this country’s most visible platforms and not have a serious dialogue about black women’s health?

Perhaps because she herself projects such a strong image as a physically fit and healthy woman (biceps anyone?), many in the general public may be less aware of the pressing health concerns facing the majority of African-American women throughout the country.  By Obama’s age (50), over half of African-American women are obese and 47 percent have hypertension.  African-American women aged 45-54 also have two to three times the rate of diabetes, increased levels of breast cancer mortality, higher rates of hysterectomy and a 60 percent greater likelihood of death from any cause than white women in the same age group.  Funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have special initiatives focused on childhood obesity and the health of boys and men of color.  Yet there is no outcry, no movement, and few national initiatives to support black women’s health.

While this is sad, it is, unfortunately, not all that surprising.  As outlined most recently by Kimberlé Crenshaw in response to My Brother’s Keeper, discussions about “race” are most often about African-American men.  Similarly, dialogues about “gender” most frequently center on white women.  Consequently, African-American women’s unique concerns are rarely heard.  Scholars refer to this as the “intersectional invisibility” faced by African-American women.  This invisibility can be emotionally painful and is unjust by most standards.  However when it comes to health, it can also be fatal.  This is the primary reason why we need a larger platform for conversations about black women’s health.

Much of the lack of attention to this issue may be rooted in the fact that women, of all races, are typically busy taking care of everyone else — children, husbands, others in their community. And in the African-American community –a community experiencing disadvantages– this natural pattern may be exacerbated.  Regina Benjamin, the former surgeon general, who resigned in 2013, is an African-American woman who often spoke about the preventable illnesses that affected her immediate family (AIDS, lung cancer, stroke) and the health concerns of the poor, rural community that she served in Bayou le Batre, Ala. (access, difficulty with co-pays).  But she rarely spoke about her own health, or the unique health concerns facing African-American women in a substantive way, except to urge black women not to let fear of ruining their hairstyles get in the way of exercise.  Both Obama and Benjamin project images in line with the “Black Superwoman,” the invulnerable caregiver who is a pillar of strength for her family and her community.  But who cares for the caregivers?

We need a national “Black Women’s Health” agenda that focuses on obesity prevention and improved rates of screening for breast cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes in African-American women.   A Michelle Obama-led campaign with support from the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and/or the American Cancer Society would go a long way towards increasing the visibility of these issues.  It could also lead to targeted funding initiatives and more research to better understand the factors that predispose black women to poorer health, including access to care, differential quality of care, and more upstream factors such as stress and financial strain.  Black women earn 66 cents for every dollar that white men earn (this is less than white women and black men), but are more likely than white women and black men to be single heads of household.  Thus, they make less money, but have to support more people with it.  However, there is very little funding for research on how social conditions affect African-American women’s health.

A national dialogue, convention, or summit around the potential importance of social factors for black women’s health might encourage foundations and governmental funding agencies to reconsider their priorities around this particular topic.  A campaign around black women’s health might also increase awareness of and research on health conditions that are less prevalent among the general population, but are more prevalent among African-American women, such as fibroids and autoimmune diseases like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.  Finally, having a prominent African-American woman behind such an initiative would send a message to the rest of the world – that black women’s health matters.  And it does.  The longer we go on ignoring it, the more lives we stand to lose. Via washingtonpost.com

Image via AP278609637477.jpg (.Michelle)

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Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

Cultural Conditioning

Lawmaker Says Weed Illegal Because Black People Genetically Can’t Handle Its Effects

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rep steven alford

Call it what it is…this is that bullshxt,man.  That bullshxt that is systematically woven in legislation used to fill for-profit prisons with black men and women. The same bullshxt that justifies over-policing in black neighborhoods even though marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession (h/t ACLU). And yes, this is that bullshxt that leads to more interactions between blacks and police — some who are racist and some who are just looking for easy targets to meet quotas — and the reality is reckless claims like those recently made by State Rep. Steve Alford (R) of Kansas have no scientific merit and yet are consumed as truth.

How could that be?!

Like my man Joe Maddison “the Black Eagle” of Sirus XMs The Urban View often says: “in America, we are culturally conditioned to believe, that White is superior, Black is inferior, and the manifestation of that cultural conditioning is that Black people are undervalued, underestimated and marginalized. It’s not a racist statement. It’s a fact of life.”

See exhibit A:

State Rep. Steve Alford (R) of Kansas thinks marijuana should be illegal because he said black people are genetically unable to handle its effects. Using the type of racist “logic” commonly heard when “Reefer Madness” was considered a serious documentary.

“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas [and] across the United States,” Alford said, according to the Garden City Telegram. “One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

Kansas is one of the few states that still hasn’t legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to the Associated Press.

The Telegram pointed out that Alford’s comments appeared to be based on the theories of Harry Anslinger, the founding commissioner of what was then called the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which was behind the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

Some of the very racist and hysterically anti-cannabis quotes attributed to the agency include these whoppers:

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

Although Alford, who represents a district in western Kansas, stood by his remarks when questioned after the meeting, he was unable to cite a specific source for his so-called science to the Telegram. However, he admitted he shouldn’t have singled out African-Americans.

On Monday, Alford denied that his remarks were racist to AP: “To me, that’s neutral. Basically, I got called a racist, which I’m really not, and it’s just the way people — the interpretation of people. To me, I’m trying to look at what’s really the best for Kansas.”

Carl Brewer, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Alford’s comments were inappropriate for a politician in 2018.

“It is hard to believe that in 2018, anyone would support the discredited and racist policies of the Jim Crow-era,” Brewer said in a statement to KSN TV. “No matter one’s feelings on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, we can all agree that views like those of KS Rep. Alford have no place in our statehouse, in our state or in our country.”

 

read more at yahoo.com

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Sports

Former NBA Baller Steven Jackson Says He Smoked Weed During Entire Career

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steven jackson, nba

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Money Moves

Why Was Essence Magazine Sold to TIME Inc. in the First Place?

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Time Inc. is selling Essence Communications Inc. to Essence Ventures LLC, a company launched in 2017 by Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis. As a result, the Essence brand has returned to a 100% black-owned independent company, after 12 years of being owned by Time. via Black Enterprise

In 2015, my wife, Lauren and I served as media for an event chaired by Edward Lewis, Publisher and Co-Founder of Essence Magazine. The event was packed; black excellence and black affluence everywhere. It was the Association of Black Cardiologists’ 6th annual “Spirit of the Heart” Awards held at the famous Cipriani 42nd Street in NYC; I personally, had never seen anything like it.

My wife and I navigated through the crowd and walked up to Mr. Lewis, the last co-founder standing at the time Essence was sold to Time Inc., and introduced ourselves as Black Fitness Today. After the interview, he gave us his business card and asked to send him a copy of our magazine. He also suggested that we read his book, ‘The Man from Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women’ and take some of the lessons he learned over the years of running Essence Magazine and apply those same lessons during our journey with Black Fitness Today.

The book was a rollercoaster detailing how Essence almost didn’t get off  the ground, to running out of money, to having to pull more investors in like Hugh Hefner (Founder of Playboy), to the mag failing to make a profit for the first seven years, to now serving tens of millions of readers across the globe and creating a community of loyal supporters who show up every year at the Essence Festival. That book provided the insight as to why Lewis sold Essence in the first place.

Why Edward Lewis Sold Essence – In His Words

In the chapter titled “selling in,” Lewis talks “selling in” – a play on “selling out,” something many accused him of doing when agreeing to sell Essence to Time Inc.

I wasn’t worried about the ‘soul’ of Essence. I was worried about its staying power. I wanted to ensure the longevity of Essence Communications as an institution serving the needs of black women. That would preserve its soul. It was becoming clear to me that independent, one- or two-magazine-titled companies were going to have a harder time surviving in the new millennium…The Internet was threatening to turn print on its ear. And there were the ever-escalating production costs that simply made it more expensive for smaller publishing companies.

To ensure the continued existence and growth of Essence it made sense to join with a mighty company that not only desired us, but promised to share with us its considerable resources.

What Time Inc. brought to the table was beyond anything we could ever do alone. [savings in production costs, syndicated research, opinion-poll capabilities, and advertising opportunities]

Excerpts from The Man from Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women

The Essence – Time relationship was supposed to be a five-year courtship when Time Inc. purchased 49 percent of Essence in 2000. But in 2005, the courtship turned into a marriage when Time purchased the remaining 51 percent to gain full control.

Much of the beef with Lewis’ move back in 2000 was his failure to bring potential black buyers to the table. But, almost two decades later, the tables have turned and ownership of Essence is back where it belongs in – in black hands.

Black media and black positive representation matters. So learning Essence Magazine is 100% black-owned once again is a breath of fresh air, especially given the sociopolitical climate. The power of ownership has become something even more important in our community, which is yet another reason to celebrate the reclaiming of Essence Magazine.

 

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