African American History Month: Celebrating Black Health & Wellness
February is African-American History Month and celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history. February was chosen primarily because the second week of the month coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of slaves, and Douglass, a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery.
I only recently learned that every year has a theme, and this year’s theme, “Black Health and Wellness,” focuses on: the legacy of Black scholars, medical practitioners, and other ways in which the Black community have contributed to healthcare. This month is the perfect time to reflect on America from a public health perspective. The CDC has recognized that institutionalized racism serves as a threat to social determinants of health. Social determinants of health include the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Poverty, income inequality, wealth inequality, food insecurity, and the lack of safe, affordable housing are just a few. Another important social factor leading to poor health outcomes and economic disadvantage among African Americans is racism, because not only is it a stressor, but it impacts who gets what in America, particularly health care.
You may want to visit the Association for the Study of African American Life and History to learn more about this year’s theme and past.