By: Anton J. Gunn
Have you received a wake-up call yet? For too many of us, it takes a sudden wake-up call — in the form of a major or minor health crisis — to make us realize that we’re not invincible. And tragically, for some, that call comes too late.
As Black men, we often don’t talk about our health or seek help until something goes wrong. We may exercise and eat right. We may know how our habits today affect how we feel. But what about tomorrow? Are we making the right choices to stay healthy as we grow older? Most importantly, are we having the right conversations about health and well-being with our sons and our fathers, with our brothers, our colleagues, our neighbors, and our friends? According to the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Black men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 60 percent more likely to die from a stroke than White men. And unfortunately, the list goes on — Black men still suffer from higher rates of disease and chronic illness such as prostate cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Unless we act now, these disparities will continue to affect generations to come. Their existence should be a wake-up call for all Black men. It’s time to invest not only in our own health, but in the health of our communities. The health care law signed by President Obama in 2010 is removing many of the obstacles to health care we’ve faced in the past. It provides access to preventive services – like screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes – at no cost to us.