Black People : It's Time To Slow Down Black America's Upward Mortality

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by dustyelbow, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    It's Time To Slow Down Black America's Upward Mortality

    By Kai Wright, NNPA
    June 26, 2006 talkback

    My father came a long way to arrive at his deathbed at the age of 57. Reaping the early benefits of the civil rights movement, he earned a medical degree from the nation's most prestigious Black university, and, only 15 years ago, ranked among Indianapolis' premier physicians. His income soaring, he bought a suburban home for his family and a Datson 280Z for himself. But diabetes took his right leg by his mid-40s, chipped away at his sight, and eventually all but immobilized him, finally sparking the kidney failure that landed him in the hospital for the last time.

    Since the civil rights movement, African-Americans have improved their lot in life by almost every measure: income, school dropout rate and access to middle-class occupations. But in that same period, Black America has made no progress on what may be the most important measure of all: living to see old age. Black and White death rates from heart disease were equal in 1950; by 2002 Blacks died 30 percent more often. Blacks had a 10 percent lower cancer death rate than Whites in 1950; now it's 25 percent higher. And the infant mortality gap doubled between 1950 and 2002.

    Progressive convention says the problem lies in poverty - too many Black people uninsured, too few with access to routine care. But what no one can figure out is why the health gap is getting worse even as socioeconomic conditions are improving. As you move up the economic ladder, Black health drastically improves, but the disparities between Blacks and Whites do not. How does a successful, educated, and well-insured man like my father die before the age of 60 at the hands of a disease that is totally preventable?

    My father was one of 3.2 million African-Americans who have diabetes today, which is 80 percent higher than the disease's prevalence among Whites. The diabetes mortality rate is 20 percent higher for Black men than White men, and 40 percent higher for Black women.

    Opinions on why some people get the disease and others don't generally fall into two camps: genes versus lifestyle. Here's where the debate turns political. If genes are decisive, then no one is to blame for the racial imbalance in Americans' health. If it's lifestyle that divides the sick from the well, then the problem is a matter of personal choice.

    But there's a third way to look at the disparity, one that is both more complex and more disturbing. According to this theory, my father died of the side effects of racism. The reason for the gap, a growing number of researchers say, is that the vaunted Black middle class simply ain't all it's cracked up to be. Black strivers have a much harder time turning their paychecks into the status, opportunity, and security that White yuppies take for granted.

    Middle-income Black families worked the equivalent of 12 more weeks in 2000 than Whites with matching incomes, leaving them little time to take care of themselves. My father worked long hours to get that house and car, and it meant meals on the run, gobbling fries from salty sacks snatched up at drive-through windows. In the midst of all that learning and achieving, he never got around to the walks in the park or turns on the treadmill that will keep you alive despite diabetes or heart disease. While the White middle class has grown healthier in recent decades, the tenuousness of Black middle-class life has left many stumbling through a vicious circle.

    Furthermore, African-Americans are more likely to be supporting parents who have faced early retirement attributable to disabling conditions. For Whites, the story is quite different: parents and grandparents often help with home loans, college tuition, and childcare. So as both Black and White families gained net worth during the booming 1990s, the gap between them grew as well. At the century's close, the typical Black family possessed 10 cents of wealth for every dollar held by its white counterpart.

    Like my father, Black America has been spent the years since the civil rights movement fighting outward battles - for education, jobs, equal rights. But both individually and communally, we've failed to pay attention to the biggest battle of all: living to see old age. We've taken health and wellness for granted, and now it's coming back to haunt us.

    Despite all of the material success my father achieved in life, he died deeply in debt -- by the time he got hold of his dream, he could no longer stay healthy enough to keep it. Black America cannot afford to make the same mistakes.

    It's time we truly engaged the national health care debate. From access to health insurance to the environmental health of our neighborhoods, from the wellness of our communities to our own individual choices, we must learn now that health is politics. If we do not, for too many of us, there'll be no tomorrow to improve upon.

    Kai Wright is writer in New York City, and can be reached at KaiWright.com. A longer article on the health crisis among African-Americans appears in the May/June issue of Mother Jones magazine.
     
  2. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    A longer version of this article was published yesterday in the Dallas Morning News, Section P and was titled "Death by Racism". The only thing I am going to point out is the subtitle states "Preventable illnesses are killing black Americans at higher rates".
     
  3. FLATFOOTFLOOGIE

    FLATFOOTFLOOGIE Banned MEMBER

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    This was an alarming article, and we need more like them. Why African folk at this website wont read articles like this one, and make some kind of feedback actually tells the larger story of our inability to face VERY important and crucial facts and issues in our communities.

    We NEED to pay closer attention to our ownselves, and stop focusing our attention on what is being done to our communites. Because what gets left out of the equation when on focuses their attention OUTSIDE, EXTERNALLY, ON OTHERS, is YOURSELF. THAT is a major problem within Black Communities all over the world, and it is not by accident.
     
  4. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Brother, I was reading this article sunday while eating breakfast at IHOP! A while later I went to Barnes & Noble and found a diet book dealing with glycemic index. As a recently diagnosed diabetic there is one key word from the article that stood out: PREVENTABLE.

    My father passed of a stroke at the age 55 and im not sure if he was diabetic but it does run in his family. My mother's side has a different set of disorders. In various forums here I have spoken on health risk factors and since I have dared to mention some issues related to black women and to face various criticism at the same time I decided to take this article and just try to make some more changes this week and focus on improving my own condition. i have been accused of "stereotyping" so I will no longer make any statements or opinions of my own and shall use others as a reference. This article states "More than 9 out of 10 black diabetics have Type 2, the version that develops in adulthood".

    He also states that this is a "genes vs lifestyle" debate which "applies to a range of deadly illnesses that disproportionately plague black america--and middle-class black America in particular."

    The more affluent we become, the more we become afflicted and the gap widens between the life expectancy rates of middle class blacks and middle class whites.

    More money, more problems???
     
  5. FLATFOOTFLOOGIE

    FLATFOOTFLOOGIE Banned MEMBER

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    Well, brother Omowale, that is a very interesting phenomena with Blacks, and, I'm sure, with other ethnic groups who've so long been deprived, and when they start making decent salaries, they quench their long ago longings to have their stomachs filled by over doing it a piece. I know that when I began making some serious money, I ate like an outta control pig, man. Being conscious of my weight helped me to get that stuff under control eventually, but I realized where that was coming from by listening to myself talk. I'd say, "yo, no more days when I gotta hear somebody say that chicken leg belongs to someone else." Because that's the kind of deprivation I grew up with as a child - food rationing, manLOL!

    I think many of us go through that - along with, of course, filling those empty spaces which come cause it's lonely at the top, and noone's there to share it with you.LOL! I laugh knowing that's really not funny at all. But that's a reality, particularly for Black women. Sisters suffer from diabetes at greater proportions than any one group in American society. Sisters suffer from obesity more than any one group in American society. Sisters don't want to hear that, but out of love and concern, we need to tell them that. Like I was saying in that thread about voluptuous: thick and fat are two different worlds, though each exists on that borderline between one another. Sisters cross that borderline oft without knowing nor caring. We have made it acceptable in our culture for Black women to be thick, and it has proven to be deadly. Diabetes, make no mistake, can be deadly, and that is the result in far too many cases.

    We cannot ignore it any longer. Our children learn to eat, in the main, from what their mamas teach them. It is no wonder, then, that adoldescent diabetes has skyrocketed. Of course, we could sit and talk about how Latino and Asian incidences of diabetes has gotten out of control recently, as well, but who we talkin' about here? We got to deal with ourselves on this level, and not flinch, brother. BTW, good that you are aware and conscious of your family health history, and how that impacts on you. We need, all, to get familiar with those histories so that we can cease making the mistakes made by our relatives.
     
  6. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    "We need, all, to get familiar with those histories so that we can xease making the mistakes made by our relatives."

    For sure. Not to slight anyone since diabetes tends to run mostly on my father's side (even though he did have elder black men who lived well into their 80s) I am struggling with changing not only some dietary habits but disgarding some "traditions" altogether. And since my mom's family is from new orleans which has a "rich" food tradition I am changing some recipes and the way I ccok but within the same "creole" tradition. For example, there is a sauce the family is known for which is very "cheesy". I just started using low fat mozzorella which has a low fat content. Instead of vegatable or corn oil, strictly olive oil. No more seafood gumbo with italian or andouille sausage. More turkey and imitation crab.

    Its like I go to some "soul food" restaurants and they serve gumbo without okra. That makes no sense because in west afrika gumbo and okra are synonomous.

    Its interesting that many foods that are laveled as "soul food"...the veggies...okra.....sweet potato (yams)...red beans...green beans....lima beans....are high in fiber, low fat and very nutritios...The problem is all the bread, batter and grease we use, misuse and overcook with which makes these foods TOXIC..

    "We have made it acceptable in our culture for Black women to be thick, and it has proven to be deadly."

    While I'm typing the news is discussing a local health crisis in dallas concerning immigrants who are taxing the public health system....and the one person they interviewed is a Black woman from the Sudan...who is diabetic and has no health coverage...I am sure that this is an increasing problem among the middle class in Afrika as well...

    I just finished a six week conditioning class which improved my overall conditioning even though i lost ZERO weight...*smh*

    lose fat and water weight....bulk up in lean tissue...now i need to spend less time on line and do my travelling across the South as planned..do some real "road work"..

    Peace!
     
  7. FLATFOOTFLOOGIE

    FLATFOOTFLOOGIE Banned MEMBER

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    Yes, brother, I agree that many of the foods brought to this continent by our ancestors is, not only exceedingly healthy, but correspondent with thousands of years of African biogenetics. In other words, were we to eat these foods in great abundance, a few of which you mentioned, such as OKRA and YAM, we would be able to keep ourselves metabolically in balance. One of the reasons ASIANS have seen a big spike in diabetes in that community is because their CHILDREN are in love with all of the American fast foods. The parents, meanwhile, continue to eat the traditional Asian way, and do NOT suffere the incidence in diabetes that the children do. Interesting, no?

    Well, we are the children of our ancestors, and though we run around attributing our troubles to them, it is reasonable to conclude that the ancestors didn't have the problem with SUGAR DIABETES(as they called it)that we do. They ate fresh, unprocessed foods, and even when they ate meats, they weren't saturated with antibiotics, and other additives, like the stuff we eat.
     
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