Archive for the ‘health care’ Category

Love Your Enemies. For Real Jesus?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

It’s the question every liberator has had to ponder. What do you do with traitors? What do you with slaves who get half way to freedom, take one look at the swamp that stands between them and freedom, and decide they want to go back to the plantation? What do you do with the slave who sells out his kin and friends down in the slavequarters by telling the master about all the talk about rebellion and freedom that takes place at night when massa’em is asleep up in the big house?

Judas did the honorable thing. He took his own life.

While violence isn’t something I subscribe to normally, I can understand why Harriet Tubman  felt it necessary to keep a gun on her hip at all times. It wasn’t just to blow away any bounty hunter or slave catcher that crossed her path. The gun on Harriet Tubman’s hip was for slaves too. Before each escape she’d get in the faces of all the men, women, and children who met her in the brush harbor saying they wanted to go with her, and say to them, “If you don’t follow me when I go out, I’m going to kill you. Go forward and live or turn back and die.”

Harsh but necessary words, I suppose. I wonder what Moses did when his runaway slaves started murmuring about being hungry and preferring their slave pallets to the harsh desert conditions they now faced (Exodus 16:3). I know he complained to God about it, but, for real, what did Moses and his lieutenants do to dissuade runaways from turning back and betraying to Pharoah’s army the whereabouts of the Hebrew camp?

Every movement has had to decide how it will deal with traitors, turncoats, defectors, betrayers, and people who half way through change their mind and want to go back.

Of course, we’re a civilized generation now. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. Side with the oppressor, if you share the oppressor’s political views. We don’t all have to think the same. Follow for as long as you feel comfortable, and when you don’t feel comfortable anymore; stop following.  Change your mind, if you want.  All’s fair in love and politics, right?

Lord, Renita, what’s got into you this morning?

What had happened was…from time to time I listen to so called Christian radio when I’m in the car driving to Atlanta. There’s nothing Christian about the stuff that comes out of the mouths of the folks on many of those shows, especially when the President of the United States is the subject for the hour (which he nearly always is). And from time to time I watch Fox News (something I don’t do often) and I’m stunned by the things that come out of the mouths of some of the black conservatives that come on Fox News.  enemie's fingersAnd admittedly, I’m still shaking from an encounter I had here on the blog over a month ago. You remember the one where a reader left a comment admitting that she is a black woman Tea Party member who loathes Obama’s politics and has no qualms with her party’s caricature of the country’s first black president as a monkey. After much yelling back and forth between us, the reader and I eventually calmed down and agreed to disagree and went to our separate sides of the rings. But I haven’t been able to get the incident out my head. That encounter made me sit up and pay attention.

Is there a point in a political fight when it’s more than the fact that you and I differ ideologically. It’s not just that we have different ideas of what it means to be a Christian. We’re enemies, Boo. Plain and simple. To allow you to continue on in your rants and ravings is to leave myself at risk of being killed, subjugated as a woman, or sold back into slavery.

Sometimes I wonder whether Jesus understood exactly what he was asking of us when he demanded, “Love your enemies,  bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). For real Jesus?

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!)

Girl, Go Get Tested

Monday, May 18th, 2009

So, thinking woman of faith have you gone out and been tested for the HIV/AIDS virus yet?

Say what? Why not?

You’re in a monogamous heterosexual relationship? What does that have to do with anything? Seventy-four percent of the black women who are infected were infected as a result of heterosexual contact, and women who believe themselves to be in monogamous relationships are the ones getting infected at the greatest rates these days.

You’re lesbian? So what?  The virus spreads through contact with either one of these four bodily fluids:  Semen. Blood. Vagina secretions. ( Saliva, if there are lesions in your mouth.) I’m not a lesbian, but I imagine that at some point in your lovemaking at least two of these fluids start flowing.  That’s certainly true, gulp, when us heterosexuals have sex — even bad sex. Girl, go get tested.

You’re virgin? Um, um, like what kind of virgin are you? Define virgin? Virgin, like, you’ve never even exchanged saliva with another person kinda virgin? That’s what I thought. Girl, go get tested.

What you say? You’re not a virgin, but it’s been years since you had some.   Experts say the virus can lay dormant and undetected in the body from anywhere between 10-15 years without your knowing, unless you’re tested. Say what? It’s been more than 15 years since you had some? (That calls for a blog post in itself.) In the meantime, I guess that makes you a virgin, sort of. So read what was written for those of you who are virgins.

You don’t want to know?  With the 99 things already on your plate, and many others crashing at your feet, why bother putting something else on your plate that you can’t do a daggum thing about anyway? Because you owe it to somebody who loves you and depends upon you (and who may come in contact with your saliva or blood one day). Because you owe it to yourself. Because you’re probably having sex with someone, and their health shouldn’t be put at risk just because you don’t want to know. Girl, go get tested.

So you don’t have insurance and think you can’t afford the test nor the treatment programs? The testing is free, and if you’re  positive treatment programs are available at low or no cost to you. Girl, go tested.

If you’re having sex, have had sex in the past, and are looking forward to having sex (again), go get tested for the HIV/AIDS virus. While you’re at is ask to be tested for the HPV virus (another one of those sexually transmitted viruses which can lead to cervical cancer).

What will it take for black women to get healthy and stay healthy? Why are we the ones most likely to die from nearly every disease that’s out there, even the preventable ones? What will it take to get through to us? Why must we get infected, if we don’t have to? Why must we die, if we don’t have to?

Now thinking woman of faith, what’s your excuse?

God told me to tell you:Get off your knees, close your bible, cease with speaking in tongues, and go get tested.

healthy black women

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.