Police brutality in this country is an issue, and I stand in complete solidarity with people who believe that it is time to reform police policies and procedures. This article in no way sets out to trivialize the lives or the pain inflicted by racist law enforcement officers or those inflicting pain in the name of white supremacy. However, sometimes it is good to look at the forest and not just one individual tree. I feel like a lot of our black activists need a wake up call.
The goal of the black activist should be to campaign for significant change. With the uprising against the confederate flag being beautiful in its own way, it has left me with a question. What does it change? It doesn’t bring back the nine lives taken by Dylann Roof. It doesn’t strip the state capitals of racist leaders or expose racist laws. In essence, it isn’t saving lives.
Our leaders tend to lead us to march and rally around the dead. We need activists who want to save the living. We need to follow those that truly want to preserve the black family. The real culprits of the destruction of the black family structure lie below. These culprits take our mothers, fathers, and children at alarming rates. They affect both homosexuals and Christians. No arrests are ever made. Just another day in the life of being black in America.
Heart Disease kills over 600,000 people a year. It is the cause of 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States. This makes it the leading cause of death not only for black people, but for Hispanics and whites in America too. 3/4 of blacks who develop heart disease develop high blood pressure before they are 40 years old. Heart health in our community is something rarely discussed, but before the age of 50 blacks’ heart failure rate is about 20 times higher than that of whites. Why isn’t the media showing us these numbers?
Why are black activists online looking at a percentage of the less than 20,000 homicides a year committed in the US? This 20,000 includes homicides by intimate partners, individuals killed by law enforcement in the line of the duty and unintentional firearm deaths as well as other types of homicides across all fifty states no matter the nationalities. Doctors say blacks with obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use are more likely to develop heart disease. Yet, I don’t see many activists pointing out these numbers, sharing prevention strategies, or organizing marches in bars. If it is happening, then it rarely makes the news or goes viral via social media.
Medical research and medical treatment for cancer is state of the art in the United States and more people are surviving bouts with cancer. While 545,000 black men had an incidence of cancer in 2011, the most startling fact here is among women. White women have the highest incidence rates of cancer, yet black women have the highest death rates from cancer. Again, while it is impossible to ignore the impact that police brutality is having on our community, these cancer rates tell a story of treatment discrimination and/or lack of medical access.
If black lives matter, why aren’t we addressing this in the memes on social media or on our t-shirts? African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial or ethnic group in the US as it relates to most cancers. The causes are complex and are thought to reflect social and economic disparities more than biological differences associated with race. Who is storming the hospitals demanding equal coverage and medical treatment?
13.2 percent of all Black Americans that are 20 years of age or older have been diagnosed with diabetes. This does not include our babies that have type one diabetes that are diagnosed earlier in life. More than 50% of the black community is in some way affected by diabetes. In other words: if you are black, someone you love is affected by diabetes. In essence, Blacks are up to 2.5 times more likely to suffer the loss of a limb and up to 5.6 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease than their white counterparts due to diabetes. Yet, there are no hashtags or town hall meetings in the name of this killer. The effects of sugar on the community are just as devastating as cocaine, but it gets very little attention.
In America, white activists and organizations are leading the activism pack in the areas where the black community suffers the most. Peter Moskos, an assistant professor at New York City University’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has concluded that from May of 2013 to April of 2015 roughly 49% of those killed by law enforcement officers were white while 30% were black. He concluded due to the population and statics whites were 1.7 times more likely to be killed by cops. Yes, I know these numbers are skewed because we are the minority. However, this proves that police procedures need to change in general. It shows law enforcement is violent against most of the people they deal with no matter their race.
While we as black people should continue our quest for equal protection under the law, we need to protect our people. We need to increase awareness, activities, and agendas around these medical conditions in order to impact our community on a larger scale. Every illness mentioned in this article notes diet and exercise as key elements for prevention or management. I appreciate the love each activist displays towards our community, but this is a relevant challenge to make an impact. I have had enough of this symbolic activism.
Let’s get to the thick of things.