Off the Beat w/ Marc Lacy: Is the African-American Community Facing a Health Crisis?

Even though it may seem like it’s a trick question, it’s actually not. It’s a really question that should not have to be asked; but then again, it does. Because the needle does not seem to be moving in the right direction. Even with technology and information available on the internet, the crisis in the African-American community does not appear to be subsiding. When you think of all of the metro areas in the country with a large percentage of African-Americans like Atlanta, Detroit, D.C., and Chicago, you get a true gist of how immense the health issue is. Whether you’re at a Falcons, Hawks, Braves, or Morehouse game, there’s a broad cross-section of African Americans in attendance…from all walks of life. Of course tailgates are the highlights of sporting events. At tailgates, there’s all kinds of great-tasting unhealthy foods served. Heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, and toking are as common as oxygen being breathed. And you cannot have “consumption” going on with men and several attractive ladies without folks trying to hook-up with any and everything just because. Let’s just be honest, when people get juice and smoke within them, they are not necessarily thinking about “playing it safe” going forward.

In the introductory paragraph, you got just a smidgen of possible health issues being produced from certain catalysts/acts. However, that’s just scratching the surface. But before we go on here, the common denominator is the fact that there are so many ailments and conditions that can be prevented or mitigated. However, I would like to add that there are some issues that are more challenging than others, mainly because they vary from person to person. Like for instance, if someone is battling a mental condition, if they do not attend counseling, consume their medication, or if their dwelling is an unstable environment, the factors that they could control become minimal thus opening the doors for a maximum negative impact. But with mental health, there are many more layers. Like for instance, people getting influenced to confess to the church about their mental challenges. Next thing they know, everyone is gossiping in the streets about their particular mental health scenario. And this is one area in which families are very sensitive (which they should). However trust is very easily lost once the grumblings are heard on the street. Let’s face it, people talk…even church folks.

Talk about controlling the situation, we all know friends and family members who have been diagnosed with certain ailments. Some of them do what their supposed to do in countering their condition or disease, however others do not. They don’t go in for their checkups, they don’t take their medicine, and they refuse to stick a healthy diet. Their rationale is that you only live once. I say living like that is equivalent to half of once…whatever that may come to. Mind you, people will come up with all kinds of viable rationales to do what they do. Let’s face it, it can be a very challenging situation dealing with health issues and people get tired of being stressed out mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially. In fact, some people take the “I did not ask for this” route and thus excuse themselves from having any liability whatsoever in taking care of their health. To add to it, family, friends, and supporters may end up sympathizing with the patient in order to keep the peace and thus things end up getting worse for everyone over time. Bottom line, the stress is compounded and the hole gets deeper and deeper.

Here’s the deal, the African-American community as a whole has to “officially” declare a state of emergency from health standpoint. Secondly, from a realistic standpoint, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Obesity, Diabetes, HIV, Mental Illness, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Lupus, Sexual Abuse, and Poverty need to be identified and taken extremely seriously by everyone…even if it does not affect you. Here’s the deal, habits over the years create a culture. Often time this culture is hard to divert from because its roots are deeply planted and there’s no collective uprooting effort taking place. Mind you, there’s no perfect plan to counter the ailments/conditions, however, it is up to each individual to be a living example of how things should be. As a collective, we need to do a better job of controlling what we can control. Workout regimens, doctor visits, cutting back on sodium, consuming less fatty foods, reducing beer and liquor intake, eliminating all forms of smoking altogether, getting prescriptions filled, taking medication on a timely basis, inquiring about the best form of health coverage available, and staying out of abusive relationships. The aforementioned are a few things. However, the health needle will not move one tick, unless the African-American Community as a whole, forces it to.

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