Archive for the ‘black women and health’ Category

Is any Black person who disagrees with the President a ‘crackpot’?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Dear “Is any Black person who disagrees with the President a ‘crackpot’?”

Sorry it’s taken a few hours to yank off my clergy collar, sit down and respond to the comment you left on the blog earlier today. Too bad that after reading your comment I had to dash out the house and get to my child’s volleyball game. But perhaps it was just as well. I needed to let off steam. “Spike it down her throat!” I bit my lip and kept myself from yelling at my child who plays the outside hitter position. I’m committed to civil discourse, for the most part that is.


Let’s start here: Turn off the right-wing, conservative chatter you evidently listen to and reread my original post. I actually never got around to addressing whatever (legitimate or illegitimate) disagreements folks may have with Obama’s health care policies. A closer reading will show that what concerned me in that post was the foreboding, sinister, escalating threatening tone of Obama’s opponents.  YOU may be one of the few Obama dissenters committed to civil discourse and civil debate, but look around and you’ll notice that you’ve been dropped off at the wrong town hall meeting. Your fellow dissenters have left the building and are down the street arming themselves with assault rifles. The fighting has begun.

When women weep on television that they fear the president has designs on brain washing their children and others march the streets with signs saying “Monkey see, Monkey budget,” and when someone alleging to be an African American woman comes on the blog accusing me of being unfair and less than kind by casting such opponents are fringe, dangerous types – wingnuts– I’m wondering what planet does “Is any Black person who disagrees with the President a “crackpot’?” live on.

Let’s move on to your main bone of contention:“Many people believe in a free enterprise system and are not happy to have government run every area of their lives.” “Big government” is what you all call it, I believe. Short cut for “taxes” and “forcing equal rights for all down folks’ throats”, am I correct? Strange that you launch right into talking about big government and the free enterprise system, but never bother to say outright what you think about the notion of health care for all, which is the issue everyone is up in a roar about. And yeah, as a former broker and accountant I know well that you can’t go on spending more than you take in. But if gutting the poor is what it takes to balance the budget, I’m not for it. If denying health care to the huddled masses (e.g, the poor, the unemployed, and those with pre-existing conditions) is the price we pay to balance the budget, then “hell no.” Excuse my Ugaritic.

“No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick” is the way it circulated on Facebook last week.

There’s gotta be another way. How about: Increase my taxes, and those of Donald Trump’s and “Is any Black person who disagrees with the President a “crackpot’?” so that the forty-nine year old man at her church who just lost his job of 16 years can have health care. Bring our troops home and cut the military budget so that poor women don’t get cervical cancer because they can’t afford the cost of an annual Pap smear.

Guess what? I’m a product of the free enterprise system too and have no doubt benefited from that system in many ways, knowingly and unknowingly. But that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of its flaws and don’t find myself wishing from time to time for a better, and more humane, economic system for this country. Just because capitalism is the system we inherited and the one we know best doesn’t make it sacred and holy, and hence above critique. And while I’m at it, just because the free enterprise system is the only thing I’m familiar with as an American doesn’t mean I’m dumb enough to actually trust the free enterprise system to do justice and be compassionate to all people at all times. No. No. No. No, I do not trust the free enterprise system (e.g., employers, insurance companies, the medical system) to make both preventative and curative health care available and affordable to everyone. Profit making enterprise have absolutely no interest in doing such a thing. Cure everyone? That would put them out of business.

History has shown again and again and again and again that” systems” do not do the right thing, unless forced to do so. From time in memoriam governments, lawmakers, judges, tribal councils, and elders have had to, step in and intervene on behalf of its citizens and demand that the rich, corporations, systems, institutions, and society treat citizens fair and humanely.  Slamming the gauntlet down and declaring: It’s illegal to discriminate.Pay people a living wage. You can’t seize children and put them to work. Cease and desist from sexual molestation in the work place. Stop dumping toxic waste into the environment. Service and maintain airplanes regularly and routinely to keep air travel safe .

reformLaws are on the books for a reason. Because human beings are not inherently good, and less so are their “systems.”

Have you ever noticed “Is any Black person who disagrees with the President a “crackpot’?”that “big government” always become the war cry of those like you when it’s folks others than yourselves big government is assisting. But let a hurricane  decimate your home, or let another Wall Street investment firm go under taking more of your savings and retirement fund with it – and big government is your Uncle (Sam) whom you fully expect to step in and come to your rescue.

But, is what those people doing any different than what we did during the Civil Rights movements?  We who? You marched in the Civil Rights movement? I don’t think so,

I just don’t want to believe that a black person came up with drawing an analogy between the civil rights marches of the 50s, 60s, and 70s and the Tea party march this past Saturday.That just doesn’t sound like anything a black person would do, certainly not one who knows that the only difference between her and her black great mother is timing and laws.  Turn off FoxNews child! True. Both events are marches. True. Both groups protest some perceived wrong by the government. But the parallels end there. The marchers of the 50s, 60s, and 70s were protesting unjust laws on the books which elevated once race over another and denied rights to one group of citizens based on race and some trumped up notions of inferiority. Saturday marchers were protesting laws proposed to get on the books that are designed to make services available and accessible to all citizens regardless of race or class based on some trumped up notions of manifest destiny.

Is any Black person who disagrees with the President a ‘crackpot’? Hmmm…let’s put it this way: Any black person that disagrees with his O-ness resolve to reform the system and make health care available and affordable to all regardless of color and class, and any black person who sides with those serving cyanide laced racist kool-aid to topple his O-ness’ health care initiative and his administration — is downright foolish.

It just seems that most of time the only people who consistently leave comments [on this blog] are the “Amen Corner.” So today I thought I would offer a slightly different type of comment.

[Neck snap. Eyes narrow.] You don’t say?

Grey Goose on ice. Please.

Those Healing Women: Nurses, Witches, and Folk Healers

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

I began this post thinking I’d give a shout out to nurses. I sathawthorne still long enough last night to catch a new medical drama television series about nurses starring Jada Pinkett. The series is called HawthoRNe. Hawthorne is one of three new medical dramas debuting this season centering on hospital nurses, this one starring Pinkett who plays hard-a** head nurse Christina Hawthorne. (Anyone here old enough to remember actress Diahann Carroll playing the first professional black woman and nurse on TV  more than 40 years ago on the series “Julia”?) Okay, so last night debut of “HawthoRNe” was a bit hackneyed with Pinkett playing the most hackneyed role of all as the competent, compassionate, caring, conscientious, no-nonsense, workaholic head nurse who has little tolerance for administrators, doctors or rules that come between her and her care of her patients. But I’m willing to give the show time to find its identity and work out its kinks. After all, any show is better than the current line-up of sorry TV shows starring black actresses and black actors. If “HawthoRNe” hasn’t improved by the end of the summer, I’ll come back on and pan it.

For now I’m happy that there’s a TV medical drama that focuses on nurses. I’m happy because I have a daughter who dreams someday of becoming a nurse,  and I’m looking forward to watching the show with her every week. And I’m especially happy, for my daughter’s sake, that she grows up, like I did with “Julia”, seeing a black actress starring in her own series as a nurse. No, I’m not a big fan of Jada Pinkett. But that’s not the point right now.

So you see why I started out wanting to write about nurses. But then I changed my mind.

Here’s a special shout out to women healers everywhere.

Nurses come from a long line of women healers. From the beginning of time women have performed the role of healers. Natural healers, in fact. As caretakers and homemakers, those assigned to care for children, the aged, and the infirmed one might say that women were in all likelihood the first healers in the world. In fact, women have always been healers, unlicensed doctors, herbalists, abortionists, midwives, roots women, doctors without degrees travelling from home to home and village to village caring for the sick. Having studied the body and having learned the healing mysteries of plants and nature, women healers were called “wise women” by common people (Jeremiah 9:20).  But they would soon go on to be called “witches” and “sorcerers” when men begin elbowing their way into the profession and sought  to demonize and put down women practicing without license in order to convince patients to trust male health professionals over self-taught women healers .


Thinking more about the matter, here’s yet another shout out to a woman with healing hands from my past: Victoria Franklin (affectionately known at church as “Ma Franklin”). She did what I want to believe my own mother would have done had she still been alive at the time. Ma Franklin came over to my house to see about me after I gave birth to my daughter.  I was alone with a newborn. (Did you know that only in the industrialized West do new mothers  return home with newborns and and no female support system to help her?)

Fresh from the island of Trinidad and in the states visiting a daughter who’d had a baby a month earlier, Ma Franklin came when my husband (also from Trinidad) called to say that I was still having pains weeks after our daughter was born. Ma Franklin showed up at my door with her “medicine bag” with her. She took one look at me and instructed my husband to find a bucket, place it in the bathtub, and run hot steaming water in the bucket. The two of them then helped me to the tub whereupon Ma Franklin poured the contents of a bottle she had in her hands into the bucket and instructed me to climb in and sit over the bucket for as long as I could. And I did. With a Ph.D. hanging there in my study and despite the fact that I was a seminary professor at a local university, I climbed in that tub naked, stooped and sat over that bucket of steaming water with its soothing menthol scent rising in me and released myself to the healing ministrations of a woman with centuries of wisdom about what to do about postpartum complications.

And then I cried– for all the wisdom that gets lost in the pursuit of knowledge.

The gouging cost of health care in this country and the uberprofessionalization of our medical personnel tell me that we need more women in our neighborhoods like Ma Franklin. Wise women. Natural healers. Women (and men) who carry within their buxom the secrets of natural healing and folk medicine, knowledge of herbs and plants and common sense healing practices needed to treat headaches, menstrual pain, morning sickness, asthma, allergies, diarrhea, burns, ear infection, flu and cold, hair loss, bee sting, and the heartbreak of unrequited love.

healing black womanGod bless you Ma’ Franklin there in heaven. God bless women healers, folk healers, and everyone woman who fretting over what to do about the sick neighbor down the way were mislabeled witches, sorcerers, roots women, devil worshipers, country healesr, silly old women, and quacks for consulting God and nature and stirring up potions.

Join me in celebrating the folk healing practices of our ancestors by sharing some natural healing remedies you know about. (Cough. Cough. In the litigious society in which we live it must be said that no one on this blog is responsible if these home grown remedies do not work for all who apply them!)

Why Our Girls?- Damn, Damn, Damn

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I give up.

I have started and stopped and started rewriting this blogpiece 10 times already. I can’t seem to find my footing into this topic. The numbers are staggering.

One of every four teenage girls between 14-19 years old has been infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

Now take a look at the figures for black girls.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of African American teen girls between 14-19 years old has had at least one sexually transmitted disease.

What are we to think? How are we supposed to interpret this data?

pregnant bellyAre we to believe that black girls have more sex, more teen pregnancies, and more STD’s than any other population?

Now they are telling us that African Americans who make up only 13% of the population comprise half of the population living with HIV/AIDS in this country with African American, and that our teens are becoming the fastest growing poupulation contracting the disease. What are we supposed to think? That we have a bunch of diseased-ridden young sluts and studs that we call our children?

I know I owe  my readers a thoughtful, critical piece on this topic, but I’m at a loss for words right now. I know that because I’m a minister I should end with something inspiring and hopeful. I will, maybe tomorrow. But today I’m still trying to make sense of this. It’s not like I haven’t seen these figures before. It’s not like I haven’t addressed the topic of teen sex on the blog before. But there are days when you get it. It hits you over the head. The colossal tragic sadness of it all. It’s unfair.

And now they’re telling us that African-American teen girls need to be the first to receive the newly approved human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine . Something is wrong.

Why our children?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that a friend called earlier this week with the heartbreaking news that their 15 year old niece who’s an honor roll student has been diagnosed HIV positive.

I just sent a text to the teenager who lives in my house: “We need to talk…about STDs…again!” She’s supposed to be in class right now. But I don’t know. I can’t be sure. Who knows?  She’s gonna freak when she reads her mother’s text. Her crazy mother who’s a minister and a blogger and fancies herself a thinking woman of faith.

Somebody hand me a bible…and a drink.

Baby, Baby, Baby…

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

octuplet babiesI admit. I am conflicted.

Despite all the heat I’ve taken on the blog for insisting that women aren’t beasts of burdens, that a woman should be able to determine how many children she wants to have and the spacing of those children, the Southern California mother who gave birth to octuplets the other week gives me pause. Whew!

With the birth of her octuplets on January 26, 2009  Nadya Suleman finds herself now the mother of fourteen children, all under the age of eight. Having a large family is what she’s always wanted, it seems. She’s been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager, says her own mother.  Nadya, who according to her publicist is a college-educated professional, lives at home with her parents at present and all fourteen of her children were conceived through in vitro fertilization.

Now that all the excitement has died down medical ethicists and fertility experts have started weighing in about the medical risks of multiple births. High-order multiple births (defined as three or more babies born together) are dangerous for babies and the mother. Infants born prematurely face the risk of breathing problems and brain injuries that may cause permanent disability. Problems in premature babies, including learning disabilities or cognitive delays, are often not apparent until years after their births.

And then there’s public opinion. Women who give birth to six, seven or eight babies have been showered in the past with gifts from big corporations. Gifts like unlimited supplies of diapers, formula and baby wipes. Maybe even a free van. A brand-new house. But that’s not happening so far for Nadya Suleman.  News that she’s a single mother with six other children seems to have turned off many people and baby supply companies are not exactly rushing to get publicity by showering the mother with free baby supplies. In these harsh economic times there are those who resent that this mother is going to need a government bail out of her own to foot the bill for her brood of fourteen fatherless children.

Fox News is reporting that the mother wants to be paid $2 million dollars for any media interviews done with Oprah and Diane Sawyer, both of whom having expressed an interest in interviewing her on their shows.

I repeat. I’m conflicted about this one.

A woman’s right to choose. The ethics of high order births. A single mother of six, with now eight more mouths to feed, who lives with her parents. Fourteen children conceived through artificial insemination. Welfare for children born to single mothers who conceive through in vitro fertilization. Whew!

It’ll take King Solomon himself to untangle this one and rule on the ethics of it all.

Any takers?