The Black Freedom Movement as Cultural Context: Moving From Passion to Action in Obtaining Optimal Health 2014

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June 2014

In the context of the ongoing Black Freedom Movement; i.e. the Civil Rights and Black Power movements; emphasis on liberation permeates a multiplicity of areas of human life and it’s flourishing. The status of the Black community’s health is not exclusive of this focus. In examination of health disparities of Black men through a public health and community psychology lens, it is argued here the health disparities Black men specifically, Black people in general, and the need for bringing Black folks to optimal health is clearly a project of advocacy, leadership, and social change.

As the Community Health Advocate for the Men’s Health Project of San Diego Black Health Associates henceforth referred to as SDBHA, my central tasks is to educate, organize, and mobilize, Afro American men, their families in the transformation of themselves and the community in general via the rescuing  and restoration of their health to a status of Optimal Health. The specific diseases and behavior focused upon by SDBHA are: (1) Obesity, High (2) Blood Pressure, (3) Diabetes, (4) Prostate Cancer, (5) HIV/AIDS, (6) Erectile dysfunction, (&) Stroke, and (7) Tobacco Cessation. In doing so I am responsible for teaching and counseling constituents on the concept and practice of NERDS, i.e. Nutrition, Exercise, Rest, Detoxification, and Stress Management.

Utilizing the Black Freedom Movement, as a model to establishes a culturally grounded framework to define, develop, and defend our health interests.  Consequently, creating a cultural context for asserting the project goals and objectives of necessity is inclusive of garnering community member’s involvement; thus like the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement’s; building a grassroots effort resulting in community and personal empowerment whereby community members take control of their destiny and daily lives is seeking optimal health. Moreover, application of an Afrocentric cultural framework for research, and practice of preventive and intervention strategies for Afro-Americans’ has its benefits for Black people as service providers and recipients of services to foster their personal, and communitarian growth and development.

In order to accomplish this task SDBHA, as an organization must possess a value based and value driven passion to bring good health into being. However, we know that passion, which is an intense desire or enthusiasm for something to occur, is not enough. In the final analysis, it is action that brings ideas into a definitive reality. Given that we (SDBHA) engages our constituents in an empowering process which is action oriented.  The action items are (1) ongoing education via community forums and smaller educational settings, (2) sponsoring ad co-sponsoring health oriented activities involving onsite exercise programs, structured walking programs, and recreating these in various locations throughout the community, (3)  working in collaboration with local churches and barbershops in increasing health literacy, and (4) constant  encouraging the community to take control of its destiny and daily life with regards to its health and well-being. The work SDBHA is doing is a monumental task and no matter how big the burden it must be accomplished in the interest of life and longevity of Black peoples in San Diego.

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is the Founder of Kawaida African Ministries.