health equity, public health, Social Justice

Building the Case for Health Equity

Principle of Health Disparities and Health EquityThe great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from Birmingham Jail said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…whatever affects all directly affects all indirectly.” Though Dr. King was referring to the injustices of the 1960s Civil Rights Era, those same injustices are alive and present today. Police brutality and the unjust treatment of black and brown women and men in our court and prison industrial complex systems still run rampant. Yet we’ve come a long way and have even further (much further) to go in our quest for equality.

Though strides have been made since the Civil Rights Era, injustice, inequity and inequality are still very well embedded in America’s institutional and social fabric. These injustices have directly led to and continue to lead to poor health outcomes of some of our most vulnerable populations.  As the current administration seeks to make “America Great Again” (insert side-eye) and prohibit the CDC from using the following words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender,” ”fetus”, “evidenced-based” and “science-based” in the 2018 budget; I cannot help but pause to ask myself, “What’s really good?”

In my moment of pause, I found it important to write about (possibly a series of blog posts) on the topic of health disparities and inequities, specifically focused on the eight principles of health disparities and health inequity as described by Braveman et al. (2011).  But before moving into these eight principles lets go into a brief overview of health disparity, health inequities and distributive justice. Continue reading

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health equity, POC Health Matters Monthly Feature, public health

POC Health Matters Monthly Features

1

Alexandria Washington, MPH, CHES
Florida A&M University
Tallahassee, FL
CEO Change the Narrative, LLC
Area of Expertise: Health Education, Health Policy and Food Justice

I come from a strong military family full of movers, shakers, and trailblazers. My family have been some of the few willing to answer the call of protecting our nation at all cost. Knowing that determination and resiliency that is ingrained in my DNA I have been determined to find a way protect our nation in my own sense. That is where I found my calling in public health. I am my brothers and my sister’s keepers and too often communities of color face disproportionate health burdens and outcomes. Systematically we face policies, stigmas, and prejudice designed to keep us in a state of need. This ultimately impacts our health whether directly or indirectly. I work to change that narrative by creating generational health through health education campaigns, blogging, and creating spaces for people of color to demand health justice.


2

Zsanai Epps, MPH, CHES
Morgan State University
Washington, D.C.
The Black Women’s Health Imperative
Research interests: health disparities, HIV/AIDS, reproductive and sexual health, and preventable chronic diseases

My interest in health was sparked by my personal experiences and my family history of chronic
conditions. Shortly after birth, I was considered a severe asthmatic. My mother suffered from severe asthma and then later on so would two of my brothers. As a child, I remember my maternal grandmother, checking her blood glucose level by pricking her finger and letting a drop of blood fall on a strip then inserting it into a machine. Later, I learned one of my uncles would also have to do the same thing as my grandmother. I observed these health conditions in my family and immediately wanted to know – how, why, and what could I do.

My family history helped to shape my interest and focus on health in not only my community but in other communities that look like mine. Through my undergraduate and graduate school training, I was able to explore chronic health conditions and expand my knowledge of how our environment influences our behaviors which can either protect us from developing these conditions or perpetuate them. I knew for sure that I wanted to focus on the health and wellness of Black women and pledged to enhance my life as well as other Black women.

Before joining the Black Women’s Health Imperative full-time, I interned here during both my undergraduate and graduate internship practicums. I had the opportunity to work on programs and initiatives that were developed and dedicated to the health and wellness of Black women and girls. I currently serve as the Project Coordinator for BWHI’s Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. (CYL²) program, which uses lifestyle change strategies to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions such as heart disease and hypertension among those most at risk, specifically Black women.


3Camille Adrienne a.k.a “The Bougie Buhhda” MPH, RRT
Doctoral Candidate for Ph.D Mind-Body Medicine (Integrative Health and Wellness)
Florida A&M University
CEO Smudged Life LLC

Smudged life is a different kind of Zen. It is mindfulness dipped in melanin. It is the combination of Reiki, meditation, and life coaching infused with black culture. It is focused on balancing the chakras, clearing negative energy and educating the community on alternative healing techniques. I’ve built a program that will allow both adults and children to recognize their natural triggers emotionally, mentally and physically. Then be able to address them in a safe way. We advocate financial, physical, and mental health. Which is why we partner with several mental health counselors, nutritionist, financial advisors, yoga instructors and other professionals to create a complete experience. Healing hurts and going on that journey alone can be scary. I have committed my efforts to walk with my clients along the way of their personal spiritual/healing journey until they are able to manage their practice independently. It’s time for the black community to stop coping and start healing! Are you ready to start living the smudged life?

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mental health

The Black Superwoman Syndrome

The Black Superwoman SyndromeEvery awkward (or maybe most) black girl’s favorite show right now is HBO’s Insecure.  And for those not-so-awkward black girls, BET’s Being Mary Jane, I’m pretty sure is high on the list.  These two TV shows document the lives of two Black female characters as they navigate through their separate life journeys. Though distinct from one another, what makes these two television shows a hit among black female viewers is the ability of the writers, directors, and actresses to capture what it means to be a black woman in America, be it an awkward or not-so-awkward black woman.  The ability of these shows to effectively tell our stories is what draws black women to them. Everything from Mary Jane’s and Issa’s complex relationships with men, the bonds that they share with their sister-friends, or the issues that they face while on their jobs are all issues that black women can relate to. What makes these shows so great and relatable is their cultural appropriateness and creative ability to depict issues that are not so glamorous, among them the strong black superwoman syndrome and mental health among black women.

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mental health

Mind Your Health: Mental Illness in the Black Community

MENTAL HEALTH IMental illness within the Black/African American community is a very real issue, yet we (the Black community) pay very little attention to our mental health status. Often associated with negative stigma, we often neglect to discuss mental health and depression and sweep the issue under the rug.  If we continue down this path, unfortunately we will continue to lose more young and brilliant minds due to suicide, because of our turning of a blind eye to the issue.

The numbers do not lie and there is an increasing amount of research that demonstrates mental health problems and depression are rising issues within the Black community.

Although we only make up 13.2 percent of the population, over 16.2 percent of the Black community has a diagnosable mental illness, that is over 6.8 million Black or African Americans living with a diagnosed mental health illness.

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