Betty Shafer: Surviving African slavery: The Legacy of Black Health Problems in America Today

  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/drupal/civicrm.module on line 619.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 177.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 273.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 416.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/Log.php on line 168.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/Mail.php on line 158.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/DAO.php on line 304.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/DAO.php on line 854.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/DAO.php on line 882.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/I18n.php on line 287.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/PseudoConstant.php on line 789.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/PseudoConstant.php on line 912.
  • strict warning: Declaration of CRM_Core_DAO::factory() should be compatible with DB_DataObject::factory($table = '') in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/DAO.php on line 45.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Utils/System.php on line 653.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Utils/System.php on line 684.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Session.php on line 102.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Error.php on line 85.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Error.php on line 171.
  • strict warning: Non-static method PEAR_ErrorStack::singleton() should not be called statically in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/PEAR/ErrorStack.php on line 983.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Smarty.php on line 121.
  • strict warning: Declaration of CRM_Core_Error::singleton() should be compatible with & PEAR_ErrorStack::singleton($package, $msgCallback = false, $contextCallback = false, $throwPEAR_Error = false, $stackClass = 'PEAR_Error...') in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Error.php on line 45.
  • strict warning: Non-static method PEAR_ErrorStack::singleton() should not be called statically in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Error.php on line 496.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Utils/Cache.php on line 78.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Utils/Cache.php on line 80.
  • : Non-static method CRM_Utils_File::createDir() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 233.
  • : Non-static method CRM_Core_DAO::init() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 304.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::getStaticProperty() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/DAO.php on line 96.
  • : Non-static method DB_DataObject::debugLevel() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/DAO.php on line 99.
  • : Non-static method DB_DataObject::_loadConfig() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 4068.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::getStaticProperty() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 4148.
  • : Non-static method CRM_Core_DAO::setFactory() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 308.
  • : Non-static method Log::singleton() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 289.
  • : Non-static method Log::factory() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/Log.php on line 220.
  • : Non-static method Log::_classExists() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/Log.php on line 162.
  • : Non-static method Log::_classExists() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/Log.php on line 167.
  • strict warning: Non-static method PEAR::setErrorHandling() should not be called statically in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Error.php on line 475.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Component.php on line 95.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/BAO/Setting.php on line 56.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/BAO/Setting.php on line 144.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/BAO/Setting.php on line 215.
  • : Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/BAO/Setting.php on line 226.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::getStaticProperty() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 2256.
  • : Non-static method DB::connect() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 2261.
  • : Non-static method DB::parseDSN() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB.php on line 520.
  • : Non-static method DB::isError() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB.php on line 557.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::isError() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 2152.
  • : Non-static method DB::isManip() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/common.php on line 2195.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::isError() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 2283.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::isError() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 2152.
  • : Non-static method PEAR::isError() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/DataObject.php on line 2152.
  • : Non-static method DB::isManip() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/common.php on line 2195.
  • : Non-static method DB::isError() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/packages/DB/common.php on line 1217.
  • : Non-static method CRM_Utils_File::createDir() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 372.
  • : Non-static method CRM_Utils_File::createDir() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 372.
  • : Non-static method CRM_Utils_File::createDir() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/hesco/apps/CampaignHostingPlusMultiLingual/sites/all/modules/civicrm/CRM/Core/Config.php on line 376.
Tagged:  

The Survivors

That slavery's survivors have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of slavery in the form of health problems far above the national average seems very clear. The problems are many: stress, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and stroke, cancer, trauma from gunshot wounds and knifings, drug addiction, neonatal deaths, obesity, and social problems such as teen pregnancies and gang affiliations.

How did it happen that a genetically dominant, self-sustaining group of independent people, who survived ocean voyages in the hold of slave ships where only 3% lived, has become this country's "sickest" people? I wondered, as an emergency room nurse, why I was seeing so many Blacks afflicted with disabling diseases when, as the descendants of the strongest survivors of the African Holocaust, they should be the healthiest of all people?

Africans were torn from their homeland, thrown into dungeons, shackled in the hold of a slave ship for months, suffered starvation, illness, pain and death. The survivors were sold like cattle to slavemasters and robbed of their dignity, their names, their heritage, and their pride. The women were raped or "bred", were separated from their men, and their children were sold at will. "House slaves" were pitted against "field slaves," light-skinned against dark-skinned, old against the young. The men were beaten into submission. Learned habits of repressed anger, frustration, dependency on the white slavermaster and fear of the white establishment continue to plague the community, passed from parents to child in some malignant heritage.

Black Realities

Today this rage and powerlessness in Black youth being raised in single parent households (and now a growing number who are being raised by grandparents because of incarcerated or drug addicted mothers) in poverty conditions, translates directly into gang affiliation, school dropout, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and early death. Rather than offering help, America fills its jails with people of color, mostly Black. According to Rev. Jesse Jackson, 1 of 3 African American men aged 20-29 is in jail or prison or on parole or probation. Now the number of Black women behind bars is growing rapidly at a rate of 1 in 5. Because of unjust sentencing laws, more than 90% of those in jail on mandatory drug sentences are young African Americans and Latinos.

Devastating to African Americans today are the social and psychological effects of slavery and the continued myth of white supremacy. Newspapers, magazines, movies and television continue to depict Blacks as negative, comedic or threatening. Michael Medved, writing in Imprimis, says, "The true power of the media is the ability to redefine reality, to alter our expectations about what constitutes normal life." This is most evident in the portrayal of Blacks in the media. Consider the perception of police. A white woman grows up believing the police are her friends; you call them if you're in trouble. A Black woman says she never ever thought the police were her friends; when they show up in the community, it means trouble. A Black man knows that he is more likely to be pulled over by the police if he is driving down the street than a white man who is driving down the street. Black Los Angeles Prosecutor Chris Darden says he's not only been mistaken for the defendant's attorney in a courtroom, but has also been thought to be the defendant because of his color.

In my emergency room experiences, I've seen this discrimination in practice. A Black man was arrested and tested for alcohol following a traffic accident because police assumed the other driver, a white man, was driving the Mercedes that belonged to the Black man. An 18 year old white girl, driving drunk and without a seatbelt, demolished a car that hit a pole. She was sent home with doting parents after a sympathetic police interview. At the same time, a Black man driving drunk, also in a one-car collision with a curb, was handcuffed and taken to jail.

The Legacies of Slavery

Slavery learned life style of days gone by continues to contribute today to high rates of teen pregnancy and single parent households. Black infants, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are 2.4 times as likely to die before their first birthday. In 1993 the rate of Black infant death was 16.5 per 1,000 compared to white infants' death rate of 6.8 per 1,000. This is attributed to high-risk pregnancies, drug abuse, and lack of health care in poverty stricken areas.

One of the most obvious health problems in the descendents of enslaved Africans today is obesity. Dr. Kwame Osei of Ohio State University says that 10% of Africans are overweight compared to 30% of white Americans and 40% of Black Americans. The highest risk group in America is Black women: 50% are overweight. Many are "morbidly obese," meaning they are so heavy that the risk of sudden death follows them constantly. Fat crowds out the lungs, squeezes the intestines and overloads the joints. Movement is a challenge. Blacks learned how to eat from their parents and grandparents who ate whatever the slavemaster gave them, mostly pork fat.

Obesity is linked to most of the health problems in the African American community today. Three million have diabetes, 85% of which is caused by obesity and can be cured with proper diet and exercise. Blacks have twice the rate of diabetes as white Americans. Diabetes causes cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) problems, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, blindness, and amputations of limbs due to poor circulation and healing, and kidney failure.

Poor dietary habits contribute heavily to coronary heart disease (CHD) which accounts for 23% of deaths in Black America. Blacks have higher rates of CHD at younger ages than whites. Major manifestations include obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension, all occurring in epidemic proportions in African Americans.

Black Americans are twice as likely to have high blood pressure as white Americans. According to researchers at the Hypertension Research Center of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, slavery could be the reason. They say that massive salt loss contributed to the death of up to 70% of the enslaved Africans and the only ones that survived were those whose kidneys retained salt. It saved their life in slavery but takes their lives today in the form of hypertension and renal disease. The risk for hypertensives is long-term damage to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys, and causes heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure necessitating dialysis and transplants and early death. End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is 4 times higher for Blacks in America as for whites. Yet Blacks wait twice as long as whites for a matched kidney for transplant.

AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Americans in the prime of life between the ages of 20-54. In South Florida alone, Black males are half again as likely to die of AIDS as white males. Black women are 4 times more likely to die of AIDS as white females. Juliet Love, a former CDC epidemiologist says, "Today, the face of AIDS has become black and brown." Jasmin Shirley Moore of the Northwest Regional Health Center in Fort Lauderdale says AIDS is "a product of the culture of the poor. They have less education and less access to health care." Shauna Dunn, Executive Director of the Comprehensive AIDS Program for Palm Beach County says, "There is a correlation between poverty and drug abuse. If you're on crack cocaine, you don't care, or pay attention to normal concerns because you're focused on getting your drugs any way you can. Health is an extremely third-rate concern."

Black males have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world. Recent research suggests that a high fat diet is responsible for the increased overall incidence of prostate cancer in America. 142 out of 100,000 Black males have prostate cancer as compared to 108 out of 100,000 white males. The treatment is surgery, castration, or suppression of the male hormone (testosterone) chemically. The cancer grows in the hormonal environment; Black American males have more testosterone than white American males, possibly because the strongest and fittest survived the holocaust of slavery.

The Cure for Contemporary Health Problems in Descendants of Enslaved Africans

The cure, of course, is education and reparation from the American heart. There needs to be compensation for a terrible wrong that was done to an innocent people by our ancestors. That compensation can help restore a natural state of well-being. Most of all, there needs to be an apology from the nation that participated in this wrongdoing: the United States of America.

Veterans of Wars receive extra compensations for their service. Japanese Americans received some retribution and an apology from the government of the United States for the wrongful incarceration of their parents and grandparents. Indigenous Americans were given back land and wealth taken from them by early European invaders, again for wrongs to their ancestors. Jews gained compensation from the German government for wrongful deaths and persecutions. While these reparations do not totally compensate for the loss of health, land and respect that these people have suffered, still it is a step in the right direction.

This has not yet happened for the most deserving citizen of the United States, the descendant of American slavery. There's no apology sufficient for the suffering endured by the ancestors of Black Americans, nor enough money to compensate for the continued wrongs to Black Americans today. But if race relations are to ever be healed, whites need to recognize and attempt to right the wrongs perpetrated by our ancestors.

We need to say to our governmental representatives that we won't accept anything less than reparations and emancipation for all people within our borders. Most of all we need to tell them that it's incomprehensible that we extend money and help throughout the world while our own citizens whose blood and sweat built this country are still suffering from the stigma of slavery and the ignorance of the children of their slavemasters.

White Supremacy has to die for the human race to live.