Saturday, December 23, 2017

Young African American men are Perceived to be More Heavier, More Stronger, and More Dangerous

by Tanasia Kenney 

According to a recent study young African American men are perceived to be more heavier, more stronger, and more dangerous than young white men of similar size. 

The new research, published by the American Psychological Association (March 2017) also revealed that participants felt police were more justified in wielding force against Black people rather than white ones. 

Researchers, led by Montclair State University scientist John Paul Wilson, Ph.D, suggested the findings might help explain why Black men are more likely to be shot by police and shed light on the “disturbing consequences” of how law enforcement officials interact with African-American men and boys.

“Unarmed Black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot,” Wilson said. “Our research suggests that these descriptions may reflect stereotypes of Black males that do not seem to comport with reality.”

Wilson and his team of scientists ran a series of experiments involving more than 950 online participants, during which they were shown a number of photos featuring the faces of African-American and white males who were equal in both height and weight, according to the study. 

Participants were then asked to guesstimate the height, weight, strength and overall muscular build of the men pictured. Researchers soon made the concerning realization that the estimates for these areas were consistently biased. 

For instance, in one experiment where participants were shown equally sized bodies labeled either Black or white, they were more likely to perceive the Black ones as taller or heavier.

Men who had stereotypical Black facial features (a wide-set nose, fuller lips, etc.) also were viewed as stronger and more capable of causing harm in a hypothetical altercation, the study revealed. 

Such biased perceptions of a Black male’s strength even led some participants to believe police were more warranted to use force against Black people.

In the study, researchers cited the case of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally disabled Black man who was shot and killed by police in 2014 after an officer fired his gun at least 14 times. The officer, Christoper Manney, described 31-year-old Hamilton as a man of “muscular build” who could’ve easily overpowered him. In actuality, Hamilton was only 5’7″ and 169 pounds.

This same bias was apparent in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, who was described as a Black “man” playing with a gun in a park.

Size bias wasn’t just consistent among white participants, however. Some Black participants held the bias, as well. While African-Americans saw Black males as bigger and more muscular than young white men, they didn’t perceive them to be more dangerous or deserving of force, according to the research.

While the study’s findings suggest that misperceptions about Black men’s size could possibly play a role in police decisions to shoot, Wilson cautioned that the research does not simulate “real-world threat scenarios,” adding that further studies need to be conducted on how racial bias affects lethal encounters with police.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

This Article on Heart Disease is in Memory of my Friend Ronald Collins

Rest in Peace Brother Ron!
by Kenny Anderson

In early 2016 I was a 58 year-old Black man headed toward a certain quick heart attack death. I was suffering from coronary artery disease, having 4 completely blocked arteries - I had to have emergency open heart bypass surgery. 

Though I didn’t know I had this type of massive blockage in my blood vessels, it was not surprising because as a Black man I had been under stress my whole adult life. I personally believe based on living and research that 'stress is the major contributor' to why Black males have the highest death rates from heart disease in this country.

Prior to my surgery I did know that heart disease was prominent in my family history and that Blacks had the highest heart disease rate in the U.S. and one of the highest rates in the world. I've also known for some time about the 'stress impact of racism' on Black heart disease.  

During my post-surgery cardiac rehabilitation I made a commitment to take the lead in reducing the extremely high rates of African American heart disease, thus I started Black Hearts Matter. In the past year 10 Black males I knew died from heart disease mainly ‘heart attacks’ and 85% were under the age of 60.

Just the first week of this month another Black man I know Ronald Collins who was under age 60 died from heart disease  -  complications of congestive heart failure. 
Collin's was a solid good, down to earth 'tell it like it is Brother'; he was a math teacher and a football coach; he was a positive influential force in teaching, supporting, and guiding Black students, particularly young Black males.

Ronald Collins untimely death is hurtful but it further motivates me to carry on the work as a Black heart disease reduction advocate. For me the disproportionately high Black death rates from chronic diseases is the unfinished business of the Civil Rights struggle and the new battle front. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Some Blacks will say that God called Ron home; some will say it was just his time to go, I disagree with these fatalistic views. From my perspective, I believe that as Blacks we can prevent heart disease premature deaths through healthy lifestyle changes, heart awareness, and reducing heart disease risk factors: stress, hypertension, obesity, and the ignorance of heart attack and heart failure symptoms.

Indeed, African Americans are disproportionately affected by heart failure. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that congestive heart failure is hitting African Americans in their 30's and 40's at the same rate as Whites in their 50's and 60's.

A 2013 study by the American Heart Association shows that African Americans are lagging significantly behind when it comes to knowing what the risk factors for heart disease thus making us more vulnerable to deaths from heart attacks and heart failure.

As Black folks we must understand that knowing the symptoms of heart failure and heart attacks can save our lives! 

Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:

*Shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down

*Fatigue and weakness

*Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet

*Rapid or irregular heartbeat

*Reduced ability to exercise

*Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm

*Increased need to urinate at night

*Swelling of your abdomen

*Sudden weight gain from fluid retention

*Lack of appetite and nausea

*Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness

*Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus

*Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack 

Heart Attack Symptoms

The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. Some people can have few symptoms and are surprised to learn they've had a heart attack. It is important that we know the most common symptoms of a heart attack and also remember these facts:

*Heart attacks can start slowly and cause only mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms can be mild or more intense and sudden. Symptoms also may come and go over several hours.

*People who have high blood sugar (diabetes) may have no symptoms or very mild ones. The most common symptom, in both men and women, is chest pain or discomfort. 

*Women are somewhat more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, unusual tiredness (sometimes for days), and pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw.

Some people don't have symptoms at all. Heart attacks that occur without any symptoms or with very mild symptoms are called silent heart attacks.

The most common warning symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women are:

*Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. It also can feel like heartburn or indigestion. The feeling can be mild or severe.

*Upper body discomfort. You may feel pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach (above the belly button).

*Shortness of breath. This may be your only symptom, or it may occur before or along with chest pain or discomfort. It can occur when you are resting or doing a little bit of physical activity.

The symptoms of angina can be similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have coronary heart disease, usually when they're active. Angina pain usually lasts for only a few minutes and goes away with rest.

Chest pain or discomfort that doesn't go away or changes from its usual pattern (for example, occurs more often or while you're resting) can be a sign of a heart attack. All chest pain should be checked by a doctor.

Pay attention to these other possible symptoms of a heart attack: 

*Breaking out in a cold sweat

*Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days (especially if you are a woman)

*Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) and vomiting

*Light-headedness or sudden dizziness

Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have (for example, if your symptoms become stronger or last longer than usual)

Not everyone having a heart attack has typical symptoms. If you've already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. However, some people may have a pattern of symptoms that recur. The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you're having a heart attack.

Quick Action Can Save Your Life: Call 9–1–1 

The signs and symptoms of a heart attack can develop suddenly. However, they also can develop slowly - sometimes within hours, days, or weeks of a heart attack.

Any time you think you might be having heart attack symptoms or a heart attack, don't ignore it or feel embarrassed to call for help. Call 9–1–1 for emergency medical care, even if you are not sure whether you're having a heart attack.

Acting fast can save your life!

An ambulance is the best and safest way to get to the hospital. Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel can check how you are doing and start life-saving medicines and other treatments right away. People who arrive by ambulance often receive faster treatment at the hospital.

The 9–1–1 operator or EMS technician can give you advice. You might be told to crush or chew an aspirin if you're not allergic, unless there is a medical reason for you not to take one. Aspirin taken during a heart attack can limit the damage to your heart and save your life.

Every minute matters. Never delay calling 9–1–1 to take aspirin or do anything else you think might help.

Black men our 'Hearts' are our source of Life;
Because we don't have to think for
our Hearts to beat we can easily take our
Heart for granted and we do;
Practice heart mindfulness. 
Your Heart is precious, take care of it!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Black Males in American Continue to be an Endangered Species

by Kenny Anderson

In his book, “The Myth of Male Power”, popular white male issues author Warren Farrell states: “The Black man is sometimes called an endan­gered species but receives little of the protection an endangered species is normally accorded.”

As Black males, we need to seriously reflect on the words endangered species’ that many social analysts are using to describe our peril in America. When I think of the words ‘endangered species’ I immediately think of a life form that is facing extinction; when I think of an endangered species the spotted owl comes to mind.

Many social analysts have looked at the quality of life data on Black men, concluding our future looks bleak. Many economists refer to Black men as be­coming economically obsolete in America due to domestic immigrant workers and international cheap labor.

The two words ‘endangered’ and ‘obsolete’ are powerful, grim terms de­scribing our fate. According to a report of the National Criminal Justice Commis­sion on Imprisonment and Race; if current incarceration rates continue, by the year 2020 – 63.3% of all Black men in the U.S. ages 18-34 will be behind bars.

The fact that so many Black men end up jobless or in prison is not sur­prising to scholars like Jewelle Taylor-Gibbs; for her, Black males in America are ‘at-risk’ from inception:

“Black males are endangered even before they are born, since male fetuses are more likely to spontaneously abort; this vulnerability character­izes their health and mental health for the rest of their lives, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood. If Black males survive the high infant mortality rates, which are nearly double the rates for white infants, they are more likely to ex­perience problems associated with low birth weight and lack of preventative health care. They are less likely to be immunized against infectious childhood diseases such as diphtheria, polio, measles, rubella, and mumps. They are more likely to have chronic illnesses and higher rates of psychological or behavioral problems. They are less likely to have access to regular medical and dental care. They are more likely to suffer from poor nutrition and related health problems. And most tragic of all statistics, they are more likely to die before age 20 than any other sex-age group.”

Indeed, from birth too many Black males lives are in jeopardy. From my perspective, psychologically speaking, most Black males are socialized with en­dangering traits, which results in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors that compounds the external racial oppression that jeopardizes their lives.

As a social work psychotherapist, who has provided behavioral prevention and intervention services to at-risk Black male youth for over 25 years, I’ve wit­nessed firsthand the negative consequences of these jeopardizing traits. I’ve seen too many young Black males become teen fathers, under-achieve, drop out of school, use drugs, engage in criminal activities, end up dead, or incarcerated.

Based on the ‘psychological insights’ from my own socialization as a Black man and from my counseling experiences with young Black males, I’ve identified several jeopardizing traits that I define as the ‘S-Traits Syndrome’ (STS); words beginning with the letter S which provide psycho-analytical insights. The S-Traits Syndrome is a group of socialized symptoms, self-limiting character traits that make up most Black males’ personalities.

Though there are nine S-Traits Syndrome terms, I will mention all of them, but I’ll only ad­dress three in some detail; the terms are:

*Slickness (manipulation, criminal-minded)

*Stud (womanizing, sexual conquests)

*Substance-Abusing (using and selling drugs)

*Sportsmen (jock mentality)

*Styling (preoccupation in obtaining expensive vehicles, clothes, shoes, and jewelry)

*Smoothness (cool pose; masking and posturing)

*Silliness (comedian attitude, non-serious)

*Sensationalizing (fantasy thinking, exaggeration)

*Set-tripping (Gangs, promoting sectarian violence)

From this list and from my experience and perspective, sportsmen, silli­ness, and sensationalizing have the greatest detrimental effects on adolescent Black males.

First, is the trait of sportsmen. When I interact with young Black males psycho-educationally in the classroom, the overwhelming majority are preoccupied talking about sports, particularly basketball. They’re constantly talking about pro­fessional basketball players in the NBA like Steph Currey, Kevin Durrant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and others.

Young Black males constantly talking about and try to purchase the expensive jerseys and gym shoes these hoop stars wear. They’re not concerned with education, schoolwork, or homework. They’re concerned with playing basketball in gym during school and playing after school; as H. Rap Brown stated:

“So to us the most important thing was to excel in athletics. Recess was the most essential part of the school day, for we could practice our skills. One play could make or break you. We all lived for the big play. For many it never came.” 

At home Black boys spend significant time watching basketball on televi­sion or playing basketball video games. In his excellent book "Hooked On Hoops” author Kevin McNutt provides a psychological reason why so many young Black males are consumed with basketball, he says:

“The rewards and jubilation of the game, the made basket, are immediate, simple, definite, quick, and repetitive. When you contrast that with the struggles of day-to-day survival that Black youth face with invisibility, hopelessness, and low self-esteem, it becomes quite clear how an es­cape to the neighborhood playground is neces­sary just to make it through the day.”

According to a study done by Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, two-thirds of all African American males between the ages of 13 and 18 believe that they can earn a living as professional athletes. This is a stunning statistic, considering that the actual chance of a high school athlete ever playing at the professional level is slim.

Data from the Children’s Defense Fund shows a Black boy today has less than a 1 in 4,600 chance of becoming an NBA player. They have a greater chance, 1 in 2000, of getting a PhD. in mathematics, engineering, or the physical sciences; a 1 in 548 chance of becoming a doctor; a 1 in 195 chance of becoming a lawyer; and a 1 in 53 chance of becoming a teacher.

In his book, “Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race”, John Hoberman, a historian at the University of Texas, argues that a growing obsession with professional sports among young African American males is destroying Black America. The root of the problem, he writes, is that:

“Black athleticism has complicated the identity problems of Black Americans by making athletes the most prominent symbols of African American achievement.”

This obsession with ‘hoop dreams’ causes so many young Black male students to become one-dimensional, focusing only on basketball; minimizing their education; ignoring their other academic talents and potentials.

Second, is the trait of silliness. Conducting psycho-education sessions with young Black males today, I find the overwhelming majority of them extremely silly, constantly joking – everything is funny! 

Filled with laughter, their ‘over-humorous’ disposition makes them non-sensical and trivializing; lacking any seri­ousness about their schoolwork (studying, homework, test preparation, etc.), their behaviors, their plight, and their futures.

Often times being hilarious is a self-distraction from poor grades and learning problems. For them poking fun and buffoonery is more than immaturity and getting attention, it reflects the influences of influential Black male images to­day, comedians.

Black male comedians, comic actors, like Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Cedric the En­tertainer, Bernie Mack, D.L. Hughley, Shawn and Marlin Wayan, Jamie Fox, Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker, and Chris Rock are dominant images on television. There is also the very popular, ‘Comic View’ on Black Entertainment Television (BET), hosted by ‘Bruce-Bruce’.

Young Black males’ minds are saturated with Black male comedy, so there is no surprise that they want to ‘clown’ all the time in school. According to psychologist Naim Akbar, the pervasive clowning attitude of young Black males, though more extreme today, is nothing new, their behavioral root is the slave plantation; as Akbar highlights:

“Another serious handicap which we inherited from slavery is the African American clown. One of the primary forms of remaining in favor with the slave master by the slave was to provide entertainment for the master and his household. It is easy to observe that man exults in his supe­riority over lower animals by teaching them to do tricks and being entertained by those tricks. In much the same way, the slave owner prided himself in his superiority by being entertained by the slave. Writers have long pointed to the jester, the clown, or the fool, as the inferior one who was responsible for making his superior laugh. Using a person for your clown has always been one of the major ways to assert your dominance over a person. Mockery is one of the more so­phisticated forms of humiliation. Great favors of leniency and special rewards were given to the clowning slave. He enjoyed a special status above the other slaves because he kept his master entertained. Even the Arts, music and dance, which had originally been used for self-expression and community recreation, became devices that were used by the slave to protect himself from the master’s anger. Fiddler, in the TV drama “Roots”, was a colorful example of this manipulative function of the clown. Clowning and buffoonery became one of the primary ways that the violent and abusive slave master could be controlled and manipulated.”

Since slavery, Black men have also used ‘clowning’ as a survival defense mechanism. Adolescent Black males today, though not conscious of it, use con­stant joking in the same manner; to make light of the heaviness of racial oppres­sion; to ease tensions and burdens; and to laugh when they really want to cry.

Third, when the young Black males I counsel are not ‘full of jokes’, they are ‘full of fantasy’, sensationalizing. Daily I hear them lie, brag, boast, and over-exaggerate. This sensationalizing attitude is understandable due to the bombard­ment of their minds with the self-glorifying fantasy lyrics of rap music and rap vid­eos that show young Black males who are ‘ghetto fabulous’; who live the lifestyles of the rich and famous; who have all the beautiful and sexy women; who are larger than life crime bosses and ‘hard-core’ gangsters; who are arrogant and indestruc­tible.

In his book, “The Violent Social World of Black Men”, professor William Oliver defines young Black males’ fantasy, sensational attitude as compulsive masculinity:

“The term compulsive masculinity alternative de-scribes a compensatory adaptation that many lower-class Black males adopt to cover up their inability to meet the standards of the traditional masculine role. Since other symbols of masculin­ity have been denied to too many Black males, the status conferral system in Black life attributes high levels of esteem to those males able to demonstrate their proficiency in fighting and sex­ual exploitation of Black women. But instead of being an effective strategy to cope with environ­mental stress such as racial discrimination, eco­nomic exclusion, and low self-esteem, the com­pulsive masculinity alternative is a dysfunctional compensatory adaptation. Rather than solving problems in the environment, it creates additional ones.”

Young Black males, like adult Black males, with sensational attitudes are based on inverted thinking: converting socio-economic powerlessness, depend­ency, and feelings of insecurity into an exaggerated sense of self. Indeed, this at­titude of exaggerated manhood creates personality problems.

According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), an exaggeration of the importance of one’s experiences and feelings is a clinical characteristic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Other characteristics of NPD that young Black males with sensationalized thinking exhibit are: grandiosity, preoccupation with fame, wealth, and achievement; and excessive emphasis on displaying beauty and power (‘living large’).

Moreover, sensational thinking young Black males like individuals with NPD are often envious of others and believe others to be envious of them (‘player-hating’). They also believe that they are superior and that others should give them deference (‘all that’ mentality).

Furthermore, many young Black males with sensational outlooks believe unrealistically they are ‘hard-core’, invincible (can’t be ‘touched’ or ‘faded’), result­ing in them living irrationally and recklessly; they usually wind up being shot, mur­dered, or imprisoned.

From my perspective sensational thinking, exaggerated manhood, like the other S-Traits, are not mental disorders in the typical DSM sense, but dysfunc­tional coping characteristics of reactionary Black manhood, like H. Rap Brown (Jamil Al-Amin) stated:

“So much of the life story of any Negro growing up in America is the story of what has been done to him and how he reacts to that. That’s it, the White man acts Negroes react.”

What has been done and continues to be done to Black men is racial op­pression, which is pathology producing. As Black men we must struggle against the S-Traits Syndrome; this reactionary behavior is self-oppressing; self-defeating, self-destructive, and self-endangering.

We must struggle against, constructively criticize, and remove the domi­nant sportsmen, silliness, and sensationalizing S-Traits in young Black males so they won’t continue to self-perpetuate internal endangerment.

In ending, several years ago a white man, an animal activist, climbed a towering redwood tree in the Oregon forest to protest and prevent lumber compa­nies from cutting down more redwood trees that the endangered spotted owl in­habits. His committed activism led to the reduction of redwood trees being cut down.

Do we have similar Black male activists committed to saving and preserv­ing endangered young Black men? Do we have committed Black male activists who would lie down in the street in front of the White House, halting traffic to get the federal government’s attention to immediately address the plight of endan­gered Black male youth?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How America Kills Black Men Without Lifting A Finger

by Christopher Jones

Experts say stress levels among Black men are related to social conditions imposed upon them by the country.
In 1996, hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest released “Stressed Out,” the tale of a black man looking to remain optimistic while dealing with the repercussions of his criminal record, trying to provide for his family, and doing his best to not be a victim of neighborhood violence.

For many African-American men, this narrativewhether in part or in full is gospel. Environmental concerns keep African-American men in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight, and studies show that this chronic stress has led to health disparities, with diabetes being one of the most insidious.
“There’s substantial evidence to demonstrate the environment we live in has direct impacts on our health,” says Rebecca Hasson, an exercise physiologist and director of the Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
About 13 percent of African-Americans age 20 and older have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. About 9 percent of all Americans are diabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. African-American men are 1.7 times more likely than white non-Hispanic men to have diabetes.
When Protective Hormones Harm
Hasson’s findings point to cortisol, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, as a contributing factor in stress-related onsets of diabetes. Cortisol temporarily increases energy production required for immediate survival like running from a bear, or escaping a house fire.

For the average person, cortisol levels begin high in the morning and taper off as the day progresses, fluctuating appropriately. In African-American men living in socioeconomically depressed communities, cortisol levels start and remain high the bear is always chasing; the smoke alarm’s always screeching.
Debra J. Barksdale, professor and associate dean of academic programs at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing, has been examining stress in African-American men for three decades. Like Hasson, she cites cortisol and its role in chronic stress, stating that it’s like “having your stressors turned on all the time.”
“The fight-or-flight response is more of an acute reaction,” she says. “Whether it’s related to the pressures from society, increased chances of being stopped by the authorities, trying to provide for their families or trying to find a job or sustain a job.

When a stressor occurs, there are physiological processes that occur in the brain that trigger the release of cortisol. What we have found was in certain people who are constantly stressed, cortisol levels do not go down throughout the day. It will remain high.”
The Broken Thermostat
When cortisol levels remain high without the presence of imminent danger or without some physical activity to offset the effects of chronic stress, Type 2 diabetes may be the consequence.

According to the American Diabetes Association, higher cortisol results in higher insulin resistance, forcing the pancreas to produce more insulin to get a response. With ongoing insulin resistance, the insulin-producing beta cells wear out, causing Type 2 diabetes.
Briana Mezuk is an associate professor in the division of epidemiology at VCU who has studied the relationship between stress and blood sugar. She explains it this way:
“Think of stress like a hot summer day. Your thermostat has to keep working harder and harder to keep your house cool. Eventually, it can’t get the temperature back down to where you want it anymore; it can’t get back down to 68 degrees.

It can only get down to 69 degrees, (because) the system is worn out. Sixty-nine degrees is not bad, but then it keeps creeping up and eventually the body isn’t able to respond because it’s chronically activated. Those are the folks who are going to be more likely to progress to diabetes,” she says.
Mezuk partners with the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s diabetes control and diabetes prevention programs. The diabetes control program helps adults living with Type 2 by providing education, support and care management. The diabetes prevention program is for those at risk for Type 2 diabetes. They learn how to make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of developing the disease.
Know Your Status
Learning to identify and manage stress positively is the first step to a healthier outcome. That can be exercise, playing in men’s sports leagues, practicing yoga, or seeking talk therapy. If no change occurs, African-American men run the risk of epidemic levels of diabetes diagnoses50 percentby 2050 according to the diabetes association.
Caroline Fornshell, a registered dietitian and diabetes fitness and nutrition expert in Williamsburg, calls those who catch the disease before its onset “the lucky ones.”
“They are the ones that got the warning. So often, people are walking around with undiagnosed full-fledged diabetes, and so it is really an exciting opportunity for individuals who find out they have pre-diabetes to take control,” she says.
Pre-diabetics can exercise more and evaluate their diet. They also should reduce stress, get the proper amounts of sleep and seek out supports, whether it’s through a program or even some sort of wellness buddy, says Fornshell.
Mezuk encourages African-Americans who think they’re at risk due to family history or who live with chronic stress to consult a physician. Many men don’t know that they have the disease and when left untreated, it can lead to a host of other health problems, including hypertension, heart disease and kidney failurethree more conditions that African-American men suffer at higher rates than their white and Latino counterparts.
“It’s really scary to go to the doctor [and find out that you have] diabetes. People call it ‘denialabetes’ for a reason. People don’t want to believe that they’re sick,” says Mezuk. “But there is good news.

We can take what we are learning about how stress and depression affect the body and actually turn that into improved health for people in terms of managing this condition better and hopefully being able to prevent this condition better.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Whites Cheer Black Male Athletes and Loathe Them At the Same Time

by Gus T. Renegade

In 2016, USA Today asked Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones why no Black baseball players mimicked football player Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. 
Jones declared that Black players “already have two strikes against us.” Compared to basketball and football, Black Major League Baseball players constitute a miniscule number. “They don’t need us,” the Baltimore outfielder said. “Baseball is a white man’s sport.”
One year later and 70 years after World War II veteran Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Boston, Mass., spectators confirmed Jones’ assessment and wasted a bag of peanuts in the process.
During a May 1 contest between the Orioles and the Red Sox, Jones reported being “called the n-word a handful of times” and having a bag of nuts thrown at him.
An assortment of athletes, including Jason Heyward of the Chicago Cubs and Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, immediately disclosed that they’ve endured similar abuse from racist sports fans. 
The fact that the Cubs and Warriors have each hoisted recent championships in their respective leagues suggests the pinnacle of athletic achievement fails to shield Black athletes from anti-Black racism. 
During the 1950s and ’60s, Bill Russell secured 11 titles for the Boston Celtics while describing the town as “a flea market of racism.” Chris Yuscavage writes that the hoops legend was conflicted about “how he was supposed to feel when he was routinely cheered by some of those same” white New Englanders who expressed unadulterated contempt for Black life before and after Celtics victories.
It’s likely that Jones’s verbal assailants badgered him while simultaneously reveling in the current playoff run of the overwhelmingly Black Celtics team.  

University of Texas professor John Hoberman authored “Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race” in part to explore the contradiction of racist sports fans patronage of Black-dominated athletics. 
Hoberman reminds readers that historically, white culture declared white women and men intellectually and athletically supreme. Hoberman explains how the “emotional stake” in maintaining the lie of white superiority demanded that generations of Jackie Robinsons be barred from competing with white students or athletes.
What began with “Black firsts” like boxing champion Jack Johnson and tennis prodigy Althea Gibson, has, according to Hoberman, swelled to the point that, “A lot of whites, if they’re sports fans, they are going to have to consume a lot of sports entertainment that is going to feature people who do not look like them, who do not have white skins.”
The billion-dollar global sports conglomerate verifies the insatiable appetite and market for Black athletes. Hoberman submits that stale racial stereotypes helped a number of whites digest the never ending serving of Black athletic triumph. 
Hoberman writes, “The myth of Black hardiness and supernormal vitality has been the crucible of our thinking about” Black bodies and often a leading justification for their enslavement.
The antebellum delusions about Black endurance and pain tolerance that made people with melanin ideal candidates to be shackled conveniently explained the athletic brilliance of Black people. Laboring in white-owned fields with a ball or bail of cotton is our genetically predetermined destiny and limited range of expertise.
However, for multitudes of white sport fans, thinking of Black male athletes as mutli-million-dollar slaves has made it no easier to stomach a sports world where Black ballers reign.

In “The History of White People Hating LeBron James,” Chris Osterndorf writes that whites “are able to appreciate [Black athletes], to rely on them, but we’re not necessarily able to separate that from the belief that they work for us.”
Black athletes aren’t role models or human beings, they’re white folks’ servants. Osterndorf says this mentality explains how racists hail the accomplishments of Black players on their favorite sporting teams, “all while calling him a ‘n—-r’ in the same conversation.”
During a NPR 2014 interview, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn used his daughter’s college homecoming football game to explain how devotion to the system of white supremacy is compartmentalized during heated sporting events. 
Representative Clyburn’s daughter, Mignon Clyburn, observed a white motorist with a bumper sticker promoting University of South Carolina football player George Rogers’ Heisman trophy campaign. She doubted the driver would sport a bumper sticker endorsing her father for Congress. 
Ms. Clyburn recalled that during the ballgame, the white fans who jeered and heckled the Black homecoming queen loudest were the most vocal in praising every yard gained by Rogers. She synthesized those events into a succinct conclusion: “It’s all right for us to entertain, but they don’t want us to represent them.”

Many Black people, including athletes like Hall of Fame football player Kellen Winslow, erroneously assumed white consumption of Black sports figures signified the wane of racism and the power of interracial athletics to lessen racial hostilities. Winslow has since publicly acknowledged his error.
When he was a physically gifted star on the gridiron, he was “treated and viewed differently than most African-American men in this country.” His Black life mattered. Racism was not a problem. 
“Then, reality came calling,” writes Winslow in the forward for the 1996 book In Black and White: Race and Sports in America by Kenneth L. Shropshire “After a nine-year career in the National Football League filled with honors and praises, I stepped into the real world and realized, in the words of Muhammad Ali, that I was ‘just another n—-r.’”

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Blacks and Shame-Based Living

by Kenny Anderson

Two years ago this month (June 16, 2015) 9 Blacks were massacred in a church in Charleston, South Carolina by a racist white terrorist Dylan Roof.

As Black folks we must constantly remember this date like we must constantly remember the date September 15, 1963 when 4 Black girls were murdered in a church in Birmingham, Alabama by a white supremacist bombing attack.

Recently, a Black man Kiese Laymon wrote an article based on a conversation he had with his grandmother reflecting back on the Charleston murders.

Laymon said his grandmother who had never talked about the racism she experienced growing-up in the South mentioned about all the work we did to forgive white supremacy, hoping then to be chosen by them and by God. That Black churches have taught us to 'forgive' white people but we learned to 'shame' ourselves. In Laymon's article conversation with his grandmother he stated:

“We will lament the numbers of folks killed in mass murders in the United States. There’s a number for that. We will talk about the numbers of people killed in black-on-black murder. There’s a number for that. We will never talk about the number of unemployed and underemployed hard-working black folks living in poverty. We will never talk about the numbers of black folk in prison for the kinds of nonviolent drug-related offenses my white students commit every weekend. We will never talk about the number of human beings killed by young American military men and women draped in camouflage, or the number of human beings murdered by drones across the world. We will never talk about the specific amount of money this country really owes Grandma and her friends for their decades of unpaid labor. We will never talk about the moral and monetary debt accrued by the architects of this Empire. There are shameful numbers for all of that, too.”

Indeed, from my perspective I fully agree with Brother Laymon that we as Black folks for the most part don’t want to see, hear, or talk about the atrocities of the slavery ‘Black Holocaust’ and the continued racist oppression we face.

Yes, we feel ashamed when Black enslavement is discussed, in a distorted self-blaming sense we don't want to talk about slavery as though we enslaved ourselves; that we are our own worst enemy, we just want to forget what we've done to ourselves - don't bring it up!

Not only were we told to 'forgive' whites for our enslavement without 'reparations', we want to 'forget' about slavery too. Too many Blacks view our enslavement suffering in America as an embarrassment 'ashamed of it', yet Jews 'honor their suffering' under Hitler's Nazism vowing 'never again' - they are 'empowered' by its remembrance. Unfortunately too many of us feel 'powerless' about our enslaved memory to the point that most of us don't even observe Black History Month.

When the movie 12 Years of a Slave was out in theaters I asked many Black folks that I know had they saw the movie, some said they didn’t want to see it because it would make them angry, but most who said they didn’t want to see it did not give a reason, for me the unspoken reason was shame!

Long before Brother Laymon’s talk with his Grandmother and long before the movie 12 Years of a Slave, I grew up in the 1960’s (Detroit, MI) around adult Black southern migrants - parents, relatives, and their friends who never discussed their experiences growing up in the racist ‘Jim Crow’ south. I learned about their lives in the South through the Civil Rights struggle exposed on television news coverage.

Like my parents generation who covered-up their Black experiences, most folks of my generation that I know admit they haven't talked to their children and grandchildren about their Black experiences; have not really discussed racism, thus 'shame non-communication' socialization continues which often leaves our children 'racially ambivalent'.

Often today when I visit family, relatives, and friends and bring up any discussion of racist Black oppression, folks get immediately uncomfortable and defensive, some will even say I don’t want to talk about ‘that Black stuff’, some are even harsher saying I don’t want to hear that ‘Black shit’.

I told them that you won’t hear white people say I don’t want to hear that 'white stuff' when it comes to their issues; you won’t hear Middle Easterners say I don’t want to hear that ‘Arab shit’.

This attitude of 'not trying to hear no Black stuff' is shameful; shame in the sense of not addressing the varied problematic socioeconomic issues that we face due to racism; shame of not being responsible to ourselves; shame of not doing what we should be doing.

Unconsciously, Black folks are ashamed ‘covering up' - avoiding discussing their experiences with racism in the past and present; the roots of the word shame derives from a word that means ‘to cover’.

Black shame is similar to wanting to hide our faces behind our hands, wearing a mask desperately trying to 'escape' from dealing with racism or 'pretending' that everything is okay. The more powerful our experiences of shame are, the more we need to hide those aspects from others and even from ourselves.

A part of who we are as a Black person or how I feel must now be disowned, silenced, or hidden at all cost, and I essentially become estranged from a part of myself.

At the heart of Black shame is a feeling that we are exposed either to others or to ourselves. No other feeling is more disturbing or destructive to the self. Black shame is stressful, it's 'inner-enslaving' and toxic!

Black Shame

Black enslavement in America was dehumanizing leaving a legacy of an internal sense of inferiority, inadequacy, and unworthiness. This shameful legacy has led us to feel as though our whole self is flawed, bad, and subject to exclusion.

Malcolm X once said the greatest crime of slavery was the white man taught Negroes to hate themselves; this self-hatred caused the ‘toxic shame syndrome’, he expounded on this hate induced shame:

"In hating Africa and in hating the Africans, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it. Because you can't hate the roots of a tree, and not hate the tree. You can't hate your origin and not end up hating yourself. You can't hate Africa and not hate yourself. You show me one of these people over here who has been thoroughly brainwashed and has a negative attitude toward Africa, and I'll show you one who has a negative attitude toward himself. You can't have a positive attitude toward yourself and a negative attitude toward Africa at the same time. To the same degree that your understanding of and attitude toward yourself become positive, you'll find that your understanding of and your attitude toward yourself will also become positive. And this is what the white man knows. So they very skillfully make you and me hate our African identity, our African characteristics. You know yourself that we have been a people who hated our African characteristics. We hated our heads, we hated the shape of our nose, we wanted one of those long doglike noses, you know; we hated the color of our skin, hated the blood of Africa that was in our veins. And in hating our features and our skin and our blood, why, we had to end up hating ourselves. And we hated ourselves. Our color became to us a chain - we felt that it was holding us back; our color became to us like a prison which we felt was keeping us confined, not letting us go this way or that way. We felt all of these restrictions were based solely upon our color, and the psychological reaction to that would have to be that as long as we felt imprisoned or chained or trapped by Black skin, Black features, and Black blood, that skin and those features and that blood holding us back automatically had to become hateful to us. And it became hateful to us. It made us feel inferior; it made us feel inadequate made us feel helpless.”

You won’t find 'disorders of shame' as a category in the DSM-5 (the official American manual for mental health diagnoses), and yet shame is probably the biggest single driving cause of most Black psychological problems - an ongoing source influence of 'internalize oppression'.

Excessive feelings of shame are at the heart of much Black psychopathology. It is concealed behind guilt; it fosters low self-esteem; it lurks behind anger; it fuels Black-on-Black violence; it can be disguised as despair and depression; its demoralizing and breeds apathy; it influences addictions and suicides.

As Black people we rarely talk about shame experiences; shame is a difficult emotion to detect, especially as it comes in so many disguises.

Many Black people with shame develop an obsession with becoming someone other than who they are - 'wanting to be white' in some form or fashion. Their entire life becomes a flight from self and a desire to merge with the ideal white image standard by altering themselves. They want to be free from Blackness and embarrassing traits, but can only hope to achieve this by cutting off a part of who they are.

Unfortunately, the distancing solution they are seeking - the problem they are trying to escape are two sides of the same coin. The more they pursue to become other than their Black self, the more they increase their judgment on who they really are. Shame and the pursuit of overcoming shame are thus often one and the same.

The problem is of course that we cannot run away from our past, nor can we heal the wounds of shame by simply trying to run away from our self. Shame will always follow us as our shadow unless we attend to it and address its root cause.

Moreover, Black shame may lead a Black person to make negative attributions about other Blacks that are disguised attempts to restore a positive self-view or hide negative self-perceptions in order to escape shame's self-diminishing effects. Thus a Black person attempts to bolster their own view of themselves by finding flaws in others so that they become the ones who are shameful.

This view of flaws in other Blacks also has collective self-sabotaging consequences; it fosters doubt and distrust that undermines racial 'Unity' preventing us from uniting to struggle for 'political self-determination' and 'economic self-reliance'.

We can continue to choose to be injured victims of our Black 'shame wound' or try to defeat it through a courageous battle that includes psycho-healing: improving our sense of self-esteem, increasing our feelings of worthiness and belonging; fostering greater self-acceptance; and reducing unhealthy reactions to shame such as avoidance, defensiveness, and attacking.

Countering Black shame-based living is the process of transforming daily who one is and how one feels about oneself; it doesn’t come from changing who one is, but rather from truly embracing, knowing, becoming, developing, actualizing, and honoring who one is.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Few Black Male Teachers

by Stanley G. Buford

"Of all the teachers in the U.S., only 2 percent are Black and male. That news is bad enough. But it gets worse: Many of these men are leaving the profession. A new study found that the number of Black teachers in the public schools of nine cities dropped between 2002 and 2012. In Washington, D.C., Black teachers' share of the workforce dropped from 77 percent to 49 percent." – Elissa Nardworny
Think back to your K-12 educational experience…Now answer this: How many of your teachers were African American male? If you had to think about it too long you probably had few; if any. That’s because less than 2% of American teachers are Black males according to the U S Department of Education.

It is not unusual to see a group of smartly dressed, articulate African-American male professors walking across the campus of Morehouse College  the only all-male historically Black college in the country - the school attended by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One would think, “Look how far we have come.” Still, faced with the startling fact that Black males represent six percent of the U.S. population, 45 percent of the prison population, and less than two percent of teachers, one cannot help but think, “How far have we yet to go?”

So many cases abound where young African-American boys want to be rappers, athletes, or entertainers, typically because that is what they are exposed to through television and social media.

Study after study has proven that if more Black male teachers were in our Nation’s classrooms, it would dramatically alter children’s aspirations and quite possibly, address the abhorrent connections to crime and disruptive behavior.

According to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 82 percent of public school teachers in school year 2011-2012 were Caucasian.

When African-American men first enter the classroom, there is a high likelihood that they may be only one of two or three black males on the staff, even in some predominantly Black school districts. On a personal note; as a teacher by day and entrepreneur by night, this writer knows all too well the disadvantages of “teaching while Black.”

Number one, the pay, which is not commensurate with most other professions requiring a degree. Two, the disrespect from a small sediment of colleagues and administrators that see Black male teachers as part of the problem because they’re male (believe it or not). 

I can well remember as a new teacher starting out as a day-to-day sub; being told that I could not fulfill a position in a kindergarten classroom because it required principal approval. There seems to be an unwritten code among some well meaning, yet, misguided school personnel that says Black men need not apply!

When a school makes hiring decisions, they largely depend on “fit.” Will this person fit in at our school, and how well? Adding an African-American man to the staff will automatically change a school’s dynamics.

Parents, students, and fellow teachers may watch the Black male employee more closely because of the rarity of the situation. The educator, as well as the school community, must be prepared for this. It takes a certain amount of character to accept and live up to this reality and the expectations that come with diversity.

It is of great importance that African-American students see caring, responsible, and honest Black men in positions of authority, because it helps them to recognize what is possible. Unfortunately, not enough of these positive images are visible to today’s youth.

The need for Black male teachers is the greatest in elementary and middle schools; for the most part grades 3, 4, and 5, as noted by Black psychologist and author; Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu writer of 38 books specific to the Black experience, including: Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys.

A deficiency of Black males in the classroom obviously leads directly to a lack of them in school leadership roles, such as principal and assistant principal. Educators have long said that mentoring is a key to success for many new teachers. In fact, many districts have mandatory orientation/mentoring programs for new teachers.

Part of the teacher mentoring experience, specific to Black males, needs to be revisited across urban America including the pairing of new teachers with an administrator or teacher who will observe, discuss research, and share experiences in an effort to promote the novice’s growth as an education professional.

The expectation is that new educators will have mentors who have their best interests and professional growth at heart. It is a challenge for Black men to find someone in their school willing to level with them and be honest about the great responsibility that comes not only with being an educator, but a black male educator at that.

This writer’s latest literary work is titled: Role Model by Default: Teaching At-Risk Kids in Urban America. It’s the story of a young Black man who decides to become a teacher; in spite of the odds and the horror stories that follow his decision.

While the book is fictional; the reality is that we, as a nation, must become better acquainted with the idea of providing Black males with teachers that look like them.

Every single conversation about education today must begin with the need to increase diversity in the teaching force. A conversation about standards, teacher quality, or graduation rates cannot begin without a vigorous effort and commitment to this cause.

Poor achievement among our neediest students is the result, at least in part, of a lack of strong, positive black educators in our classrooms. The United States needs to move swiftly to engage more African-American men in teaching.

No longer can we simply be “okay” with Black men representing less than two percent of our teacher workforce. It is simply unethical and unacceptable in this day and age. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

4 Troubling Truths About Black Boys and the U.S. Educational System

by Matthew Lynch

Most people like to think that American K-12 schools, workplaces and courthouses are pillars of fairness, but statistic after statistic all point to a crisis among the young, Black men of the nation. This crisis begins in homes, stretches to K-12 educational experiences, and leads straight to the cycle of incarceration in increasingly high numbers.

In America's prison systems, black citizens are incarcerated at six times the rates of white ones - and the NAACP predicts that one in three of this generation of Black men will spend some time locked up.

Decreasing the rates of incarceration for black men may actually be a matter of improving educational outcomes for black boys in America. In his piece "A Broken Windows Approach to Education Reform," Forbes writer James Marshall Crotty makes a direct connection between drop-out and crime rates. He argues that if educators will simply take a highly organized approach to keeping kids in school, it will make a difference in the crime statistics of the future.

While there are many areas of improvement that we could look at changing for more successful outcomes for black men, I will discuss just four indicators that illustrate the current situation for black boys in the U.S., with the hope of starting a conversation about what we can do to produce a stronger generation of Black young men in our society.

1. Black boys are more likely to be placed in special education.
While it is true that Black boys often arrive in Kindergarten classrooms with inherent disadvantages, they continue to experience a "behind the 8-ball" mentality as their school careers progress. Black boys are more likely than any other group to be placed in special education classes, with 80 percent of all special education students being Black or Hispanic males.

Learning disabilities are just a part of the whole picture. Black students (and particularly boys) experience disconnection when it comes to the authority figures in their classrooms. The K-12 teaching profession is dominated by white women, many of whom are very qualified and very interested in helping all their students succeed but lack the first-hand experience needed to connect with their Black male students.

2. Black boys are more likely to attend schools without the adequate resources to educate them.
Schools with majority Black students tend to have lower numbers of teachers who are certified in their degree areas. A U.S. Department of Education report found that in schools with at least 50 percent Black students, only 48 percent were certified in the subject, compared with 65 percent in majority white schools. In English, the numbers were 59 and 68 percent, respectively and in science, they were 57 percent and 73 percent.

3. Black boys are not reading at an adequate level.
In 2014, the Black Star Project published findings that just 10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered "proficient" in reading. In urban areas like Chicago and Detroit, that number was even lower. By contrast, the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress found that 46 percent of white students are adequate readers by eighth grade, and 17 percent of Black students as a whole are too. The achievement gap between the two races is startling, but the difference between the NAEP report on Black students as a whole and the Black Star findings of just Black boys is troubling too. It is not simply Black children in general who appear to be failing in the basics - like literacy; it is the boys.

Reading is only one piece of the school puzzle, of course, but it is a foundational one. If the eighth graders in our schools cannot read, how will they ever learn other subjects and make it to a college education (or, in reality, to a high school diploma)? Reading scores tell us so much more than the confines of their statistics. I believe these numbers are key to understanding the plight of young Black men in our society as a whole.

4. Punishment for black boys is harsher than for any other demographic.
Punishment for Black boys - even first-time offenders - in schools is harsher than any other demographic. Consider these facts:

*Black students make up just 18 percent of children in U.S. preschools, but make up half of those youngsters who are suspended.

*Black boys receive two-thirds of all school suspensions nationwide - all demographics and both genders considered.

*In Chicago, 75 percent of all students arrested in public schools are Black

What's most troubling is that not all of the Black boys taken from their schools in handcuffs are violent, or even criminals. Increasingly, school-assigned law enforcement officers are leading these students from their schools hallways for minor offenses, including class disruption, tardiness and even non-violent arguments with other students. It seems that it is easier to remove these students from class through the stigma of suspension or arrest than to look for in-school solutions.

School suspension, and certainly arrest, is just the beginning of a life considered on the wrong side of the law for many Black boys. By 18 years of age, 30 percent of Black males have been arrested at least once, compared to just 22 percent of white males. Those numbers rise to 49 percent for Black men by the age of 23, and 38 percent of white males. Researchers from several universities concluded earlier this year that arrests early in life often set the course for more crimes and incarceration throughout the rest of the offender's lifetime.

No wonder young black men aren't in college!

These trends are not conducive to improving the numbers of young black men who are able to attend college. In fact, the numbers are dismal when it comes to black young men who attend and graduate from colleges in the U.S. Statistically speaking, black men have the lowest test scores, the worst grades and the highest dropout rates - in K-12 education, and in college too. The recognition of this educational crisis has led to some strong initiatives targeted at young black men with the intention of guiding them through the college years and to successful, productive lives that follow.

This is why college motivation within and outside the black community is so vital for these young men. At this point in the nation's history, they are in the greatest need for the lifestyle change that higher education can provide, and not just for individual growth, but also for the benefit of the entire nation. But in order to get there, black boys must experience the motivation to succeed well before college.