Posted on: June 1, 2023 Posted by: Tara Merchant Comments: 0

Photo Courtesy: The Sessionator

Photo Courtesy: The Sessionator
Photo Courtesy: The Sessionator

Has there ever been a time when there were not health disparities within the Black community? One of the challenges faced between Black and white people in the United States has always been a lack of healthcare and differential health outcomes. This has been a part of the American landscape for more than 400 years. With the adoption of sophisticated analytic approaches and case studies the narratives for health in Black communities have remained the same. The main issues behind this problem have been inequality with the lack of access to health insurance being the leading reason for the matter at hand. This has shaped the health dynamic in the Black experience for centuries.

It is no secret that slavery was set up to keep the country racially divided. Slave owners saw in Black people bodies that needed to be disciplined and controlled. According to an article cited in PubMed Central, there were some enslaved Africans that did not adapt to the practices of slave owners and made use of roots and herbs to heal their communities. However, conquering the high rates of morbid obesity, mortality, stress, overwork, horrendous living conditions, sexual abuse, violence, and separation were issues that were beyond the scope of these natural healing practices.

This was actually the motivation behind the start of Black Health Matters (BHM). It all started with an examination of the foods that where presumably made from the scraps of what had been eaten by white masters and their families. These food items came to be what was named ” Soul Food” loaded with high sodium, sugars, starches, and lard. These additives were used in a variety of meats, vegetables, deserts, and beverages like sweet tea and koolaid to accommodate the taste that many had become accustomed to. Nearly 90 percent of Black Americans lacked income per household and the knowledge to exercise the option to eat healthier. In many Black families you would eat what was placed on the dinner table or eat nothing at all. That was your choice.

Centuries of this conditioning to consume high risk diets led to the development of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer. Black Health Matters is an organization founded by Roslyn Young Daniels, President of the BHM Summit. Upscale Magazine Correspondent Tara Merchant attended the BHM Spring Health Summit and Expo, a hybrid event in Essex County. The event was held at Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology in Newark, New Jersey, on May 20, 2023. It was hosted by iconic journalist Rolonda Watts and actor Malik Yoba.

Other community advocates received recognition for their contributions along with the Honorable Mayor Ras Baraka and Councilman of the West Ward in Newark, New Jersey, Dupre’ L. Kelly. Merchant also interviewed Mr. Bernard Owens Jr., psychologist and best selling author of The Only Thing Wrong with You! and young entrepreneur Mr. Taj Aaron of the The Tag Project.

Officials and the public were able to get screened to detect medical issues, have their hearing checked, and get HIV testing and other screenings. A variety of vendors were in attendance to offer resources to provide further assistance for those in need. The BHM is a gem that spans fifty states showing individuals and families how to gain control, awareness, and education on how to take care of themselves in order to live longer lives and with greater purpose.