Black wellness stems beyond celebrating our exemplary historic pioneers and supporting Black-owned businesses. Holistic Black wellness is an intersection in healthcare and mainstream culture that is consistently underrepresented due to biases, ignorance, and systemic racism that still exist today.
As a naturopathic doctor (ND), wellness advocate and Rae partner, I want to share why Black wellness should receive greater attention and support from all people. Modern-day disparities continue to cause unhealthy risk factors for the African diaspora. Even within my own profession, only 3% are Black naturopathic doctors. By investing and educating more in Black wellness today, we ensure a future to make history and progress for many generations to come.
5 important Black health facts to know:
+ Racist experiences/trauma contribute to higher inflammation levels in Black Americans, which increases their overall risk for chronic diseases. (Psychoneuroendocrinology, August 2019)
+ Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Black American women and kills nearly 50,000+ yearly. (American Heart Association 2019)
+ Suicide rates are rising among Black American young adults, with 9.5% reporting suicidal thoughts in 2018. (Mental Health America)
+ Black Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as white Americans. (Alzheimer’s Association)
+ Black American adults are 60% more likely to develop diabetes. (National Health Interview Survey, 2018)
Many of these health issues are not coincidence or solely genetic, but rather, driven by insidious external factors relating to toxic environmental exposures, socio-economic inequities, western diet, and systemic mistreatment. Black wellness should not be dismissed as a Black issue. It’s a human issue warranting more support from all groups.
To support holistic Black wellness is to also honor the rich cultural practices native to the past and present of the African diaspora. There is enormous diversity within wellness practices among Afro-indigenous peoples. Non-Black allies should take care not to inflict your own wellness practices as superior or more important. Specifically, western Eurocentric health customs should not always presume to be more effective or better for Black wellness. Remember we should all respect the unique preferences and needs of others – “To each, their own.”