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On Friday, Feb. 18, my radio show guest will be Sylvia Y. Cyrus, executive director for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), who will introduce the new president of ASALH, Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney. In his Black History Month letter shown on the ASALH website, he shared this profound information.

The theme of Black Health and Wellness also addresses the long history of how African Americans have dealt with their exclusion from the nation’s hospitals and clinics. African Americans have had to establish their own hospitals, clinics, medical and nursing schools in cities such as Charleston; Chicago; Dallas; Nashville, Tenn.; St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

This theme also shows how some of the nation’s most important medical and scientific innovations were developed because African Americans in slavery and freedom were used literally as guinea pigs to help to develop the field of gynecology (e.g., the inhumane research of J. Marion Sims), to research cancer and polio (the cells of Henrietta Lacks) and the spread of syphilis (the Tuskegee experiment). But all has not been all negative.

African Americans have contributed many medical and scientific innovations to the nation’s health and wellness. For example, in 1721 during a smallpox outbreak in Boston, Onesimus, an enslaved African, taught his master the method of inoculation. In 1893, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a surgeon at Chicago’s Provident Hospital, performed the first successful open heart surgery. During World War II, Dr. Charles Drew developed the method for preserving blood plasma that has saved millions of lives.

Most recently, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett led the team of scientists that developed the Moderna vaccine to immunize Americans against COVID-19.

The theme of Black and Health Wellness not only addresses the history of health care in the African American community, it is also a historical examination of the financial and economic health and wellness of African Americans. Broadening and expanding the theme to address what some historians and health care professionals call the “social and economic determinants” of health and wellness allows us to show the interconnectedness of a number of historical, social and economic factors on Black Health and Wellness.

According to The APM Research Lab, home to a team of researchers who inform the public with both original and curated research, facts and analysis, it shows how the African American community has been affected greatly by this pandemic, having lost more lives of Black, Indigenous and Latino Americans than any other. All have a COVID-19 death rate of triple or more than white Americans, who experience the lowest age-adjusted rates. 

Of the more than 240,000 U.S. deaths cataloged in this Color of Coronavirus update, this is the number of deaths documented by group through Nov. 10, 2020: Asian (8,687), Black (46,211), Indigenous (2,251), Latino (46,912), Pacific Islander (334) and white (123,429).

Readers, allow me to close this month out with tribute to my mother, Fannie Estelle Grant, who died in 2000 on Christmas Day. Talk about stress! When you hear me sound off at the end of my radio show each week, I always say “My people perish for the lack of knowledge.” Now that I know what we can do to turn things around after a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, I cannot repeat these steps enough: lose weight, change your diet and exercise five days a week for 30 minutes.

Tune in to Radio One, Spirit 1340, WYCB to hear Cyrus and Dulaney as we talk more about health and wellness in the African American community. My show airs at 6 p.m. every Friday (listen live at http://www.myspiritdc.com).

What does Scripture say about our health? Jeremiah 33:6 NIV: “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” And in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

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Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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