Tag Archives: Black people

Love: An Essential Nutrient.


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Messages in mass media today give love a bad name. Switching on the radio, you’ll hear songs of either bitterness in regards to love or of heartbreak, which give off the impression that love is a scarring experience as opposed to an essential component for survival, sanity, and growth. Common sentiments about not needing love, primarily in this age, have turned us away from the free-spirited lovers of the 60’s flower child era singing The Beatles’ hit song “All You Need Is Love” (1967) to the jaded individuals who choose success, independence, and capital over love. Could this new impression of love be a reaction to ignorance of the idea’s actual definition? What is love, anyway?

American psychiatrist and notable author, M. Scott Peck, defines love in his 1978 novel The Road Less Traveled, as “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”. In this sense, love is a selfless act. In her novel Paradise (1997), literary laureate Toni Morrison proclaims, “Love is not a gift. It is a diploma,” asserting that love is something to be earned, a benefit reaped as a result of hard work and dedication. These are two interpretations of love we rarely hear about anymore. Instead, love is commonly associated with acts of possessiveness, jealousy, obsession, and straight up emotional instability. Misconceptions of loves true meaning have led to the current demonization of this concept. In ignorance, lovelessness has become normalized in our day-to-day interactions with one another.

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Believe it or not, we need love. Without care/nurturance, one of the several components that make love, we can die, whether in a metaphorical, spiritual sense, or a very literal, physical death. According to PsychologyToday.com researchers have discovered infant mortality rates are 30%-40% higher among babies in orphanages who lack nurturance during infancy. Those who don’t perish grow into persons who struggle with empathy, fearing physical touch and having trouble establishing connections with other people.. As a species who is dependent on one another to navigate through the world, this is a prime example of how necessary it is to have love at one’s foundation. Also, love is literally in the mind. Recent studies haves mapped out about 12 areas of the brain that function to convey our expression of love. Some of these areas release various chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, commonly known as “the love hormone,” proving, for the skeptics, that love is not a myth.

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Earlier I mentioned care as one aspect of love. Amongst care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust are all components that function to create love, according to bell hooks in her radical book All About Love: New Visions (1999). We typically think of love as being just one of the aforementioned, when love is the work of using all in conjunction in order to add to your own and/or another’s growth & development. By these different definitions it’s safe to see love as enrichment, a safe space for us as humans to freely develop into the empathetic, sentient beings we were meant to be. Put simply, love is a tool of freedom not an excuse to seek ownership over another person. Being controlling hinders growth, which is in the way of love’s goal.

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In conclusion, we could all use a little more love in our lives, especially now with the many crises occurring globally. As these innovative author’s and psychiatrist have clearly stated, love is an act of selflessness, extending parts of you for the benefit another person and in turn, becoming, also, a benefactor. We are losing fellow beings, brothers, sisters, and friends, whether literally by physical death, or spiritually via a diminishment of sanity and feelings of loneliness in a fully occupied world because of love’s lack. I propose a rerouting of the newly popular lovelessness through a mass reteaching of love’s true meaning in a world that seems to have forgotten the benefits of what it means to bathe in the richness of love.

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Livestrong: Why the Cancer of Injustice Lives On

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Everything hidden in darkness must come to light. This seems to be a relevant saying, considering the recent phenomenon of racial and gender scandals in the media. That means bigotry in the NBA, new domestic violence reports, and growing evidence of racist police forces. But when light shines on an issue, do we look for the roots of the issue or do we just just follow the headlines?

Follow the patterns. We are fooled into thinking justice has taken place, when time and time again systems are simply punishing behaviors and people who got caught, instead of the thinking and philosophies that led to those behaviors. Instead of healing, we treat symptoms. We medicate. In a similar way, when we correct people–racists, abusers, etc–all we tend to correct is behavior. People then adopt rules: don’t say nigger, don’t hit a woman, don’t do this, don’t do that. We never correct the way the dominating culture thinks. There are systems of thought and control laced in our political, economic, and religious culture.  The monster you see peeking its head in recent scandals is only a symptom of the great cancer that lies in our systems of thought. If we never plan on attacking a way of thinking, that monstrous cancer continues to live–police brutality, racism (in the economic, judicial, and political world),  domestic violence, even so called abortion rights. The root of all our issues seems to be the ancient storyline: one group of people thinks it is superior than another, and essentially that they are more human–or that they are the real humans, and the others are not. The self perceived superior group either cannot see the others’ humanity or they undervalue that humanity.

Some people only see  only race, gender, or ethnic group. Today, whole systems of governance and socialization have normalized this view. The cancer seems to have been dormant, with a few complaints from its underclass. Today, however, the evidence is in the blood on our streets. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, Janay Rice, and so many more.

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In pursuing the cause for these atrocities, we point to all the wrong things: the victims themselves, the racist cop, the scared neighborhood watch, etc. For me it boils down to one thing: were these victims seen as people. On the contrary, the personhood of each of these people seems to have been in question, or at the very least it had to be proven.

They tried to show Trayvon Martin was sweet and made good grades. They said Michael was going to college. Every one of those efforts is to make the victim more relateable, more human to the average white public–as if them being human was not enough! There is a gap in the viewed personhood of a white 17 year old and a black 17 year old, in a beaten woman and the man who beat her, in a daughter from the Hamptons and a daughter from Detroit. I will skip the cute stuff, and say why. The measure of humanity and personhood is often dictated by a few things:
1. Whiteness, and one’s relation to it
2. The male sex, and one’s relation to it
3. Economic stability

Somehow, if you fail in anyway to have a father, or to come from an economically sound background, or you look a little too different–you lose the function of the mass culture’s ability to relate to you as a person. Your personhood erodes. Your humanity is in question. Tommy, we see. Rachel we can vouch for, but Tamika must prove to me that she is deserving.

Some of the greatest atrocities done to people happened because some one  thought the other was a little less human. Once you are capable of thinking someone else is less than human, then you are the one capable of great inhumanities towards people. The Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, and so much more. Each of the people group victimized were thought less, just a little less, than full human beings.

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There is something particularly sick with a society that cannot see the humanity of those different from their perceived selves. The symptoms of that sickness shows itself in the numerous displays of injustice towards black men and women in this country. Yet, we have an opportunity. A major light is shining on issues we have always known, all too well in fact, but were unable to protest due to lack of evidence and following.

Now we have all the evidence of the cancer inside our country.  We have all the following of the general public. What do we do? We point only to the symptoms. We take a little tylenol for the runny nose. We point at the thinning hair here and there. We cut breats off. We tell the weak parts of the body that the cancer is their own fault. “Finger, you must let go of the past.” “Foot, well If you just looked like the hand, you know not so threatening.” We don’t get healing, we get quick fixes. We don’t call for justice, we call for  sacrifice. We sacrifice all the wrong people.

We let the cancer survive. We let the erroneous thinking, that is, the root of injustice live. We forget that it is living inside us. We do not attack the cancer itself, the harmful thinking that is the cause of the deaths of young people, the oppression of women, the imprisonment of minorities, etc. We let the cancer live. We bill it and we let it give commentary on the news.

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Black Film: Reclaiming Our Right As Storytellers

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Recent outrage from individuals in the Black community over the casting of several Hollywood produced films, including Nina Simone’s biopic and Exodus: Gods And Kings (2014), is not only ridiculous but also laughable. As usual, Hollywood casting directors decided it would be a fun idea to inaccurately cast Zoe Saldana, who is a mixed race Latina, as the legendary Nina Simone, who is visibly dark and a heavily African-featured woman, not a fair-skinned Latina like Zoe. Instead of choosing a Black actress who is just as, if not more talented than Zoe Saldana and also fits the physical requirements of the role, someone like Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba, they went through the racist trouble of putting Zoe in blackface in an effort to chan- nel Nina. This move by hollywood directors is not only insulting but predictable. In addition, the movie Exodus: Gods And Kings, which tells a story of Ancient Egyptians, depicts the royal Egyptians as something other than the Black Africans they were, as white men. Of course the slaves in the film are cast as Black, we’re always allowed to be that. This reshaping and whitening/lightening up of our history is what happens when we allow our oppressors to tell the stories we should have been telling all along.

As a reaction to the absurdity of both films, Blacks have voiced opposition and drawn up petitions in an effort to get them shut down. Once again, we’ve found ourselves trapped in an en- gulfing hell of useless pleas and unnecessary explanations, fighting for inclusion and crying about the whitening up of a history we know so well. We’ve allowed ourselves to be reactions to whiteness as opposed to the doers. Instead of creating the stories of Nina Simone and Black Egyptian stories we want to see, we’re pleading for change upon the deaf, careless ears of white media. Let’s face it, Hollywood is a predominately white controlled media platform who always has and will continue to do what they please with such platform because they can. It is not their jobs to accurately tell our stories or to even tell them at all. This overvaluing of white media has to stop in order for us, Black people, to move forward on the rigorous path of healing and independent self-awareness.

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Coming from a legacy of Black filmmakers like Spike Lee, Haile Gerima, and the legendary Os- car Micheaux, who didn’t wait for white media platforms like Hollywood to produce the stories they wanted told, there’s no reason we can’t continue to act as the definers these individuals helped lay the foundation for us to be. It is time, way past time, for us a people to cease the up- holding of white opinions and perspectives over what we know as true. We know Nina Simone was not a fair-skinned Latina, we know Ancient Egyptian royalty were not a court of white men, therefore the emotional reactions to these careless insults by white media are useless. Instead of dredging up petitions or voicing cries of hurt and anger out in the street, combat the obvious lies with art. Ensure that other Black people know the truth about this war of accuracy in history by reclaiming your right as the storyteller and create what you want to see. Zora Neale Hurston once said “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” In this context, if you continue to allow your history to be told by your oppressor, they’ll continue to erase you and trap you in a prison of explaining instead of doing.

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Foods & Habits to Maintain Radiant Melanin.

As children of the Sun, “melanated” peoples have an inherent glow that needs to be maintained. With the consumption of daily Sun, whole foods, and a useful skin care regime, this natural glow of “Black gold” will effortlessly shine. BlackHealth365 introduces foods and methods Black people can use to help maintain the natural beauty of their skin:

The Importance of Sun Exposure:

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Melanin is the pigment in our skin which makes humans the different hues we have come to be. It’s also present in the hair, eyes of not only us, but other species of animals. It is responsible for the tanning of skin exposed to sunlight. As people of African descent we have some of the highest content of melanin. In places closest to the equator, where sun exposure is more prominent, the people of such lands harbor a darker hue, giving them this glow of “Black gold” raved about. Melanin is produced as a response to UV ray exposure from the sun, so it is essentially protection from the harmful aspects of the life-giving ball of heat. The more melanin you have, the better protected you are from the sun’s harmful UV rays. This also means that in order to get essential vitamins from the sun, like the essential vitamin D, it is important for people of color to spend ample amount of time in the Sun on a daily basis. Sun rays contain rare dosages of Vitamin D, which provides humans with minimal free radical damage and maintains skin moisture and even tone.

Black people with a medium to darker hue are recommended to spend at least 35-45 minutes daily in the sun. For extra protection & moisture during time of exposure, apply either shea butter, coconut oil, or aloe vera gel on skin instead of chemical-laden, harmful sunscreens.

Foods For Skin Health:

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There are many foods that aid in the maintenance of beautiful skin. These are normally fruits high in vitamins A, E & beta-carotene or fatty nuts like almonds that the expansive organ loves. Here are a list of 10 foods to consume which are loaded with the vitamins & minerals necessary to promote beautiful skin:

1. spinach
2. mangoes
3. papaya
4. sweet potatoes/yams 5. raw almonds
6. aloe vera juice
7. carrots
8. blueberries
9. avocados
10. pomegranates

The best way to receive the nutrients from these foods listed is by way of smoothie drinks! This way the nutrients enter the bloodstream easier and can be sorted through the body accordingly without the added task of having to be broken down in the digestive system. In addition to these skin health boosting foods, water is a MUST for attaining beautiful skin. You can also add antioxidant-rich teas (green teas) & fatty fishes like salmon to your regular eating regimen to feed skin cells.

Hygiene Habits:

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 7.28.46 PMThis goes without saying, but showering on a daily basis, at least once a day is a must. Skin requires water nourishment inside and moisture provided on the outside. Going through this world filled with germs and bacterias, and harmful chemicals lingering in the air, especially those of us who live in cities, it is imperative that we wash that off our organ every day. In addition, remember that skin is a detoxifying organ, meaning it releases toxins collected within the body through the skin. You need to wash those toxins off or else they’ll linger on the skin and cause possible unwanted bumps & marks. You also want to incorporate sugar or coffee scrubs into to hygiene regimen to scrub off dead skin cells and help maintain your melanated casing’s youthful radiance.

Raw unrefined African Black soap is recommended for daily deep cleansing of the skin. This natural soap not only works better than commercial soaps filled with skin drying chemicals, such as Dove, but it cheaper, rich in real nutrients, and lasts longer. I, personally, use raw unrefined African black soap for facial and body cleansing.

 

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Keeping the skin moisturized on a daily basis is very important! Throughout the day the skin gets dry from movement an exposure to the outside world and needs replenishing. The best time to give the skin moisture it needs is right after a shower or nice bath. Literally as you’re soaking wet out of the shower, apply coconut oil (my favorite) or a shea/mango/avocado butter mixture of some sort and let it air dry into your
skin. Towels drying is unnecessary unless you want to pat dry. An ideal skin oil mixture for appliance after bathing would be a mix of vitamin e oil, almond oil, and coconut oil. I only typically use heavier butters in my hair or during “dry seasons” like winter.

 BlackHealth365 Recommended products:

-organic cold pressed and unrefined coconut oil
-raw unrefined African black soap
-Nubian heritage soaps or other shea butter/vegetable glycerin based soaps
-whipped Shea butter (belle butters, Whipped, or your own homemade mixture)
-vitamin e oil
-almond oil
-brown sugar or black coffee to make scrubs

Following these suggestions will guarantee an improvement in the health of your skin and will surely make melanin shine bright! We must not forget that the skin is also an organ and needs to be fed to be at its best, like every other organ in the body. Remember, if it’s not safe to ingest then it isn’t safe to put on the skin. The skin absorbs so if you’re loading it with chemicals, these same harmful agents will eventually end up inside your body. You don’t want that. Eat right, drink PLENTY of water, spend quality time outside under sun, wash daily, and moisturize and you will glow like the child of the Sun you are!

Juneteenth: Channeling Our Energies in Our Own Purposes.

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I think my fascination of Juneteenth has always been the fact that we are alive and well to celebrate this infamous holiday. We made it. Our ancestors lived through slavery. And if it wasn’t for their persistence and high spirits, we wouldn’t be able to see this day and build each year… 

So there’s something to think about in this small victory for ex-slaves. How did they manage to live through this experience? And furthermore, what can we do today to exemplify the strength and vigor that they had? Of course there are many answers to these questions, but I want to look at something very specific: purpose. 

During slavery, it was clear that slaves served a higher master than White folk. This is not even to get too much into religion or anything, but they knew what there purpose was and for most of them, it was being able to get through, get out, and tell their stories. Because of these purposes, Black people today are still story-telling, maintaining culture, and living life. But we are lacking in something, and its definitely purpose. 

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Do you honestly think your daily life coincides with your intended purpose? Are your talents and qualities, as a human, as descendants of this great ancestors, are actively living in your everyday lives?

Every day we do things that benefit our current state but doesn’t not replenish our souls nor purpose. We work full time jobs to make a decent living and go to school to get degrees, but do we push ourselves to ultimately make us happy? Are our natural talents and “feel goods” being worked just as hard? ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

It’s cool to be great workers for the jobs that you are currently working, and of course it’s great to be awesome scholars, but imagine if you invested that same energy in fulfilling your own purpose. Think about how free and happy your life would be. If anything, we owe it to our ancestors who built this country, and were still devoted some of their time to ensure that their energy was not fully into doing the works of their masters. Live your OWN life and serve your own purpose. Now THAT’S freedom. 

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Use this day to reflect on your energies and how you can properly distribute them. What is you purpose? What are you going to do to make sure that you live through it everyday? 

For Colored Girls Who Decide to Reflect and Not Mourn The Loss Of A Giant.

I know why the caged bird sings. She sings for hope. She sings so her sound can be heard. She also sings, because if she doesn’t, her song will only be a faint memory. And the memory of once singing will be lost and trapped inside of her. What does that perfect melody do for the bird that once wanted to sing? Most importantly, how can that suppressed melody potentially effect the other caged birds into breaking free? We wouldn’t know. The caged bird has to sing first…. 

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Yesterday, I woke up to the tragic news of Maya’s death. Just like any unfortunate news of that degreeSixty million and more
I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved., we often become sad and frustrated about death in general and how people die. I had to rethink this news of Maya’s death and reevaluate the meaning of death. I didn’t feel as if Maya left the world and took the impact that she left on me and other Black women, but it was as if a bigger message that was sent to us: the time is now.

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

We always rely on civil right activists to continue the fight for justice, but can they really continue the fight by themselves? why does it take our elders to die to realize that we must keep on? Why does Maya have to leave the earth so my passion for writing and truth-telling becomes reestablished?

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

We live on the backs of  giants. We are the branches of a strong oak tree. Yet we continue to not live through our fullest potential. Our ancestors are tired of lifting us up. We must nurture our own minds and circumstances and continue the fight. The fight of our liberation. Opening that small gate so that we can become free birds. This starts by picking up where they left off and keep it going!

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As far as Maya’s fight? She showed me that it was ok to be flawed. That my story can illuminate the entire world and allow other women to tell theirs. She was willing to sacrifice her small pride and gained an abundance of humility from standing firm in what she believed, regardless of her adversities and struggles. We lost flesh, but we gained her spirit. Her spirit will forever live and her intrinsic motivations, to allow the to coincide with her extrinsic ones will be my motivation to sing my melody and help others become free of their cages.

I will not mourn Maya’s life. I will use her legacy to continue to build mine. Thank you for everything that you did. Your patrimony will forever live on.

Color Matters: The Diversity of Whole Foods.

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Nature is a varied field of infinite possibilities. With each passing day some new discovery is stumbled upon and Mother Earth tops what we assumed were her greatest creations. She always shows us the best has yet to come. What always surprises me are the many components to every fiber and layer of life created. Every thing has its purpose, it’s specific duty to the world, down to the human body and the food we eat. I’ve always known certain foods were beneficial to us based on taste, texture, and even location, but never thought twice about the meaning of its color. Each representation of the rainbow possesses it’s unique nutrient to help build immunity and fight disease, keeping the body functioning on an optimal level.

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These are foods which contain chlorophyll, the molecule responsible for the process of photosynthesis in plants. Often referred to as the “green blood of plants” because of its close resemblance to red blood cells found in humans. Used mainly for purposes of detoxification, chlorophyll binds to toxins and helps remove them from the body. This “green blood” is also known for its maintenance of the circulatory, immune, and digestive systems.

Highest sources: dark leafy greens like kale, arugula & swiss chard, wheatgrass, the blue- green algae spirulina, herbs, and all green fruits/veggies. 

 

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The nutrient lycopene of the carotenoid family is responsible for the red color/hue found in many fruits & vegetables. Shown to protect blood vessels around the heart and in the neck better than vitamins A, E, and CoQ10, lycopene also delivers oxygen to body tissues. Also shown to prevent against various cancers, specifically prostate and breast.

Highest Sources: ripe red tomatoes, red chile peppers (cayenne), red bell peppers, watermelon, and grapefruit. 

 

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Beta-Carotene, alpha-carotene, and zeaxanthin are a few of the nutrients which give produce its yellow and orange hues. These are foods that promote good eye health, the building of strong bones, and boosting the immune system by fighting off free radicals.

Highest sources: carrots, pineapple, squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, yellow bell peppers, corn, and mangoes. 

 

Blue-purple-foodBlue/Purple:

Anthocyanins are the compounds in various fruits and vegetables which give them a blue/purple pigment. This antioxidant acting member of the flavonoid family is known for its various benefits such as improving brain function & memory, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease, promote healthy aging, and protect cells.

Highest Sources: blueberries, eggplant, purple grapes, plums, blackberries, and figs.

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White fruits and vegetables are high in the compounds anthoxanthins and allcin. Anthoxanthins have antioxidant properties which lower the risk for cancer and heart disease. Allcin lowers high blood pressure & cholesterol and reduces the risk of stroke.

Highest sources: onions, potatoes, bananas, peaches, jicama, white mushrooms, and cauliflower.

 

It’s important to diversify your palate! Each fruit and vegetable contains a unique color which represents compounds & molecules present that will help aid in maintaining the body’s wellness. Don’t just marvel at the rainbow, eat it!