Sunday, July 24, 2005

High Risk Behavior

A man who is a member of a reader/writer internet group to which I subscribe has taken the position that, thanks to revelations in JL King's book, ON THE DOWNLOW, African American women believe that black men in this country swing both ways. There may be a few who do believe this, because one of my acquaintances said to me (in the presence of two other women), "All of them do it; your husband, too." This shocked me, because she has never seen my husband, never spoken with him and doesn't even know his first name. Moreover, I have never told her anything about him. I chose to ignore the remark. However, that is not the issue here. I would like to know the views of as many women as possible as to what they believe is the prevalence of this two-timing habit that puts women's lives at serious risk of HIV/AIDS, whether they have had any experience with men who cheat in this way and how it affected them, if at all. Gwynne

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Some Like It Hot

Last weekend, I attended the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and signed books at the authors pavilion. Thanks to continuously inclement weather, the temperature was more "tame" than I had expected, and I was grateful. The local papers and television stations estimated that 250,000 people, mainly African Americans, attended the festival. While observing these prosperous and joyful Americans, it occurred to me that what we need is a movement not unlike the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Without wanting to start a controversy-and praying that I don't- I submit that we need a nation-wide health campaign to warn African Americans of the relationships between diet and weight, and strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. As one whose work has for years involved the study of the epidemiology of morbidity and mortality, I have to say that I am alarmed about our health prospects.
What does this have to do with the festival? That is where I saw thousands of African Americans strolling leisurely along the streets, most I would suggest below the age of forty-five, and nearly three-quarters of them candidates for the ailments listed above. I love cornbread and barbecued spareribs as well as the next person, but knowing my mother's family history, I ration myself, and if I gain five pounds, I get rid of it. So let us do what we can to guide young black Americans toward the path of good health. We are not the only ones who need this change-America needs it, but we are the ones about whom I am concerned.

Let me know your reaction. Is there anything you and I can do?