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Issue 17 Out Now

Black Health & Wellness: A Crisis

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Ethnic households, specifically black, tend to have a higher risk for health issues compared to white households. Black Americans ages 18–49 are two times more likely to die from heart disease than white Americans. Black Americans ages 35–64 are 50% more likely to have hypertension than white Americans. Many things in society are hindering black people from living the healthy lifestyle they truly deserve.

These racial disparities can be seen by looking at how the black community is affected. Many black Americans deal with economic racism. An example of this is seeing the differences between white and black neighborhoods. Driving through a white neighborhood, you might see nice suburbs with gyms and grocery stores like Whole Foods. While in black neighborhoods, you might see gas stations and liquor stores on every corner with the best grocery store being Walmart. Black Americans that live in these communities don’t have much choice but to shop in these areas, meaning less healthy food options and a wide range of options for unhealthy foods such as frozen meals, candy, and chips.

Black Americans also have less access to healthcare compared to white Americans. Therefore, they are more likely to realize something is wrong when it’s too late. Instead of getting the chance to change their lifestyle to avoid diabetes, they already have it. In 2017, 10.6% of black Americans were uninsured compared to 5.6% of white Americans. 89.4% of black Americans had health insurance compared to 93.7% of white Americans. There is also the issue of black Americans being treated worse when it comes to doctors and health providers, such as being ignored. There are many racial biases that create negative outcomes for black people, from sickness to childbirth. Events like the Tuskegee experiment also helped in creating distrust between black people and doctors. When many try to avoid doctor’s offices, it creates health issues in return. It is a long cycle that needs to be broken.

There are many things that are against the black community that prevent them from living healthy lifestyles, but there is still hope. Hope begins with destroying the stigma of health that is within the black communities. Many like to experience the short term, such as the enjoyment of a certain unhealthy meal, than think about the long-term. Black Americans should focus on educating themselves. While some don’t have access to healthcare providers because of their finances or the area they’re in, the internet has become the hub to learn about nutrition and exercise. Driving five minutes to Walmart to grocery shop might be ideal but sometimes driving 20 minutes to the nearest Kroger or Whole Foods is best. There is also the option to grow food and vegetables in the backyard if possible. If gym memberships and running outside isn’t an option, there are plenty of online workout videos that can be done in the home. Amazon is the perfect place to get equipment too, such as yoga mats and dumbbells.

In addition to disparities, there is also the factor of culture. Black Americans indulge in unhealthy foods frequently. Food is like a language for black people. It is a way to spend quality time with others and create memories. This is fine, but unhealthy food shouldn’t be the only food. We all love a heaping plate of fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, yams, and cornbread, but they should be highly limited. These foods contain high-fat, high-cholesterol, and high-sodium. Family bonding time can be done over plates of baked chicken and steamed vegetables, although it may not sound as appetizing. The internet contains endless websites that share delicious and filling meals that are good for the body. While soul food is good for the soul, it isn’t good for the body. It is time to omit the mindset of “I’m here for a good time not a long time” and start having the mindset of “I’m here for a good time and a long time.”


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