A recent conversation that stuck with me was with a member of World Gym. We were both hanging around the smoothie bar and he went to say: “I’m so done with treating my body like shit, summer is coming up, I want to look good”. My first thought was ‘so what’re you going to do when summer is over? Go back to treating your body like crap?’ But then he surprised me. Before I could interject, he goes “I just want to feel better. I can’t have a heart attack like my dad and uncle. No more drinking, I am done smoking, time to take care of me” That shit hit hard because it was Black male, probably mid-twenties.
When I think back on it, I was genuinely surprised those words came out of his mouth. I didn’t know him at the time, but I had the feeling he was like many other (black) males in their mid-twenties; drinking every weekend to the point of blackout, eating out for 2/3 of their meals and most likely part taking in some sort of smoking. This may seem judgmental but please look at the 22-26-year-old males you know and tell me that it’s not a fair assumption, lol.
What hit the hardest is that he said, ‘it’s time to take care of me’. I don’t think we say this enough in the Black community. We are so spent on taking care of others, worrying about the way we are portrayed or fighting a fight that doesn’t really have a clear end. Let’s start taking care of ourselves, our health, our body and our minds so we can keep fighting the good fight and taking care of others.
Most recent studies have determined that the Black-White gap in hypertension is not shrinking and may even be becoming larger. Already, the rates of hypertension leading to an attack are 1.4 times higher in Black men and 1.8 times higher in Black women compared to White men and women respectively. It has also been found that socioeconomic status only explains some of the gap not the whole thing. It is suggested that chronic exposure to perceived interpersonal discrimination induces stress which in turn elevated blood pressure. Though, these are not excuses. If anything, these should be clear cut reasons as to why we need to start taking care of our bodies, and exercise regularly.
My health matters. Your health matters. #BLACKHEALTHMATTERS!