With well over one million cases of people with COVD-19, global deaths way over 100,000 and United States deaths of over 18,000, there is so much to say about our lifelong ability of becoming healthy and staying healthy.
Mainstream media is just now talking publicly about something that people of color have always known and continue to deal with. Having access to healthy foods and quality healthcare insurance is crucial to people of color and people with lower incomes. In order for us to not be so dependent on the federal government, we must start taking it upon ourselves to empower our own lives and how we live it, instead of searching for the government to fix our problems!
I have lived in both the South and the North. There are many great things I can say about the South; their gracious hospitality, respect, beautiful warm weather, but especially when it comes to the ability of getting healthy foods. I’ve lived in small towns and very large cities such as Atlanta where there is an abundance of fresh foods that can be purchased without going 50+ miles or so to get it. Even in some of the impoverished neighborhoods in Atlanta, there is still access to quality foods you can eat. Those areas may not have a Publix or even a Kroger in those neighborhoods to grocery shop, but you can surely go to a Food Depot, Save-A-Lot or other similar stores to definitely get nourishing, healthy fresh vegetables, fresh produce, etc. Though, for cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, there is a vast difference in the ability of getting fresh food in any of the African-American or Latino neighborhoods. This inequality has been going on for decades, which brings us to one of the many reasons why there are so many COVID-19 deaths in these cities amongst people of color.
Many African-Americans have become so ‘comfortable’ with just eating what’s convenient for us, what’s “cheap” and not caring or considering the long-term affects this will cause our overall health. We feel like if we don’t get or ribs and pork (especially on holidays), that we’re “missing out”. Over time, that is the actual food that is killing you! I have seen stories, though in the past where a person in Chicago has created a garden in his local community for people to come and purchase some of the food items he has planted in that garden, but I’m sure that is just one person! This is something we as African-Americans in this country should have been doing 20+ years ago for our own community!
Another healthcare disparity in this country are nursing homes and jails/prisons with this coronavirus. The elderly and the long-term sick people are extremely vulnerable to this extremely contagious virus. The elderly already have weakened immune systems. This is why to date, we have over 2200 deaths in nursing homes throughout the country. This is so heartbreaking to me! Many nursing homes were late in following the stay-at-home orders – meaning they did not stop visitors from coming, etc. Either family members were unknowingly having the virus while still entering nursing homes or just didn’t think they could get it and pass it on. One piece of good news that I have heard via the news and its coverage of the coronavirus is that a few weeks ago, they were saying that some nursing homes were implementing that since we are on a stay-at-home order and those family members who are not currently working at this time, if the situation avails itself, you can get your loved one from the nursing home and bring them home with you as a temporary situation! Again, many are not hearing about this, thus causing the elderly to become more depressed not being able to see or speak to their loved ones, thus causing more of a downward spiral for the elderly mentally.
Jails and prisons are also being affected in large numbers by the coronavirus. Being their cells are in close quarters of each other and local county and state officials not heeding the warnings early on to release some of the very minor criminal offenders – not letting those people go free is one of the reason we’re seeing a high population of inmates across the country becoming infected and dying from the coronavirus.
What can we do now? Well, I say that while we do have this time at home, start a new regimen. Come up with ideas on what you can do to better your community:
Exercise: Start off slow, just in your own neighborhood. We do have to get out for fresh air and get out of the house, so while we’re out, take a brisk walk and increase your walk/steps each day or even 3-4 days per week. Challenge your own self and start seeing the positive results you can achieve on these daily walks and also continue to follow the guidelines of being at home.
Eating healthier: I am truly talking to myself as well when I speak about this, but we must begin to eat healthier. The only way to beat any virus is to keep our immune systems up by taking vitamins, eating less red meat, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ve also spoken about this on my previous blogs on some of the many things we can do for ourselves to maintain and consistent healthy eating habit.
Checking on others: Talk through the windows if you have to – check on your neighbors, the disabled and the elderly . This is not a virus that hits certain people. This virus hits everyone and we must get self out of the way and start being concerned about others. See if they need groceries and toiletries, etc.
Start listening: Folks, this virus is real! It’s very contagious and it is deadly! Stop thinking it cannot happen to you. Stop standing on the corners or during your backyard barbecues that you continue to have and smoking your blunts and drinking alcohol and passing it on to the next person thinking you are not susceptible to this virus. You are! Continue to be diligent about washing your hands, especially when you are out and about, working, etc. Yes, it’s hard for all of us to adapt to change, but we must in order to stay healthy and stay alive. Continue with the physical distancing measures in place. We as people of color can get this, are getting it and are dying from it. Take this stay-at-home time and take inventory on yourself. What can I do to better my health and get rid of my already compromised health issues? What can I change about myself? What can I change about my community? What can I do to help others in my state, in my neighboring states?
I just want to end by saying my Michigan family, my beloved hometown, I am praying for all of you. Like many places you all are really having a tough time with this, but Michigan more so for many of the reasons I spoke of. Do not hesitate to call me if there’s anything I can do to help anyone else in Michigan in stopping the spread of this virus, please let me know! I’m praying for you and with you.