Social Justice Means Things Must Change
Tamika Mallory, a social justice advocate, gave a powerful speech. She talked about what is going on, that folks are tired, and how to remedy what has transpired since the murders of George Floyd and other Black people.
We sincerely hope that there will be justice for George Floyd and the police are convicted for this heinous crime. I believe this time, justice will be served, but that is just a morsel of what needs to be done to help us live healthy and whole lives.
Have you had discussions about this? What has been the outcome?
We need MORE than a morsel. This merciless death must be the beginning, to end injustice for Black folks and other vulnerable populations. The road ahead must lead to the power brokers relinquishing some of that power, for Whites to give up some of that precious privilege and pass it on to those who have contributed much to the building of this country. Blacks have certainly contributed and yet were left with nothing to show for the labor. It is time for the disenfranchised to get a franchise to a better life and hope. This has to happen!
COVID-19 and Racism Dual Threats
Since March the atmosphere has been so heavy. COVID-19 stormed in leaving us home alone and lonely, but also scared of getting infected. The numbers soared and the virus did not discriminate. It infected the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the famous, the infamous, and more. Anyone can get infected, but people of color have been disproportionately affected and Blacks are the most likely to die. Same old song with a different tune!
Then, yet another murder–the modern day lynching of George Floyd. As people have been saying, this is not new. In fact, last August, Professor Ibram X. Kendi told us that:
“Racism is a crisis. It’s an American crisis. It’s a crisis of humanity.”Ibram Kendi, 2019
Not sure anyone but the interviewer heard him. Black folks have been sounding the alarm for years and in many different ways. I loved what Tamika Mallory spewed out when she said there is a new level of empowerment in these protestors. “We’re not asking and begging for respect, we’re demanding it.” (Vogue.com)
We can all be Part of the Solution
Some people have been asking, where are our leaders? This young woman is clearly a leader. But, I thought, we don’t have to wait for a leader or anyone else. Chris Cuomo always talks about us being Ameri-CANS. We can all be a part of the solution. We have a focus and there are things we can do.
These two viruses of racism and COVID-19 are tough, but because they heavily impact communities and individuals we must find a cure. COVID-19 may prove the easier one to solve. The time is ripe and right to enact solutions. Some of this work may have already started, but let’s continue and expand. I am offering a few suggestions. These lists are not comprehensive.
What would you add?
The 50 Thousand Foot (Macro) View
Solving the issues before us will require a multitude of strategies, as well as patience, hope, and faith. Be intentional with your time and actions. Start with the 50 thousand foot view- the macro view. See the bigger picture. I describe some examples of actions in the broader categories of racism and health.
Ask, what can we do as a collective community?
- Join together and demand police reform, social justice. The protesting has carved the way to begin these discussions and to be heard. Seize the moment and turn it into a movement.
- Encourage greater community engagement from the police departments.
- Bad cops must go! There needs to be greater accountability and transparency about problematic officers and issues impacting the community.
- Our neighborhoods need to be healthier to promote individual health. Start demanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables in grocery stores. Review what they are feeding the kids at school.
- Explode the commercial determinants of health. Push your cities and states to ban menthol and other flavored products that the companies differentially market to African Americans. Don’t let the tobacco companies talk about how great these poisonous sticks are while we are disproportionately dying from lung cancer, COVID-19, and cardiovascular diseases-stroke and heart attack. These companies are living large off the profits.
- Demand that ‘gentrifiers’ not be allowed to change entire cultures of a community. There needs to be a percentage of housing that remains affordable in our neighborhoods. Don’t just give inherited property away. Get what it is worth!
- Employee protections- Push for paid leave for sickness, whether COVID-19 or other illness. Make sure that workers have all the equipment, supplies, and policies in place to keep them healthy.
- Encourage institutions of higher learning to have funding and programs to help the next generation of Black health providers- doctors, therapists, nurses, researchers, etc. We need them.
The Micro View- Close to Home
To achieve a positive end we need the community and individuals to be a part of the movement. That is where the micro view comes in. This is about how people can look at themselves and determine the best way they can contribute as an individual. This view should be personal but can include the family as well. It really is about getting individuals battle ready.
Specifically to combat COVID-19, wear a mask when you are out. CDC has endorsed this and now the World Health Organization (WHO) is also a proponent of masks. I don my mask when I go out in public spaces. We are free in America to wear a mask or not. But we need to all be part of the solution to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and masks work!
Start working on the chronic diseases that put you at risk for worse COVID-19 outcomes and hamper your physical and mental fortitude to fight racism. I will mention a few things here and we can discuss in more details in future posts.
These are just a few things to focus on (general recommendations, check with your doctor) :
Black men, June is Men’s Health Month. Know your numbers. If you are 45-70 years old get a PSA (prostate specific antigen, a blood test). Black men die more so you should bring this request to your doctor. Don’t wait for him/her to ask you.
Black women 40 years old and older get your mammogram. We don’t have higher rates than White women but we die more.
Blacks are 3x as likely to die from asthma. Our children develop asthma often times after exposure to tobacco smoke and various inhalants like dusts and molds.
If you smoke cigarettes quit for yourself and your family. 45,000 Black people die from smoking related diseases each year. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.
COVID-19 and racism have exacted quite a toll. Many have been anxious and stressed. This is just the time that resiliency comes into play. The American Psychological Association provides an in-depth discussion of this issue. Basically resiliency is about bouncing back from difficult circumstances. It is about adapting to life situations that might have altered your course or interrupted your path. Some of the ways to build resilience are connecting with positive, empathetic people, tending to wellness- sleep, healthy eating, healthy thinking- accept change, maintain a hopeful outlook, and meaning- find a purpose, help somebody.
Sick and tired of this mess, then start a campaign to tackle an issue. It can start small. Or, find out where and how you can get involved to address issues to improve the health of the community. Volunteerism is good for your health.
What will you do?
We Need a Revolution
A United States of America doesn’t mean we all have to look alike, talk alike, eat the same foods, or believe in the same God. It does mean that we all have to work to make sure that justice is for all and America is truly the land of the free. Call out racism when you see it. Your approach will depend on the situation. It is time for a revolution. Listen to Kirk Franklin and then get busy. There is a lot of work to be done.
George Floyd was laid to rest June 9, 2020.
George Floyd, rest in Peace and rest assured that we will continue the fight until justice is won!! We honor you with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence every day until JUSTICE is served.Tweet
Today is National Iced Tea Day. Share a great recipe if you have one.