Oh, You Mad? The Black Community’s Deadly Dismissal of Health Issues

Fans of the Your Black World Network Facebook fan pages were asked why African-Americans are offended by statistics highlighting our health.
Photography: Nhophotos.com

by Maria Lloyd

One would be surprised by the number of hate emails and comments my team members and I receive for writing content regarding statistics about African-Americans and health. As the Business Manager for this platform, I believe we have an obligation to report matters regarding our health and wellness — hence the name “Your Black World Network.” If our analytics are accurate — as they always are — our primary audience is comprised of African-Americans.

We wouldn’t be deemed as a platform for Black America if we weren’t honest with the community about our health. Just recently, I wrote an article that states nearly 60 percent of African American women are obese. Instead of simply reporting the data and publishing the article, I also documented the causes of obesity in black women and recommended solutions to combat it. Per usual, readers became irate with me for publishing the article and simply refused to believe it. It’s incredibly disturbing and costly for us to resort to dismissing unfavorable research about our health, as opposed to understanding it and combating it. Imagine what we would’ve accomplished if we’d actually acknowledged that two thirds of black children were born out of wedlock 10 years ago. Now we’re closer and closer to three fourths of our children being born out-of-wedlock. It serves as one of many proofs that our dismissal of the data is costly.

I would never encourage someone to not research content on our platform for themselves. In fact, there are often hyperlinks included in our articles that will pin-point readers to the original source of the information. Challenging the statistics and providing evidence that they are skewed, as Janks Morton has done with “Hoodwinked,” is commendable. But, dismissing the data and failing to provide evidence of your claim is without merit. Even if information about our health is skewed and/or falsified, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to us to believe the data and change our eating habits and/or intimacy patterns? Think about it: If I’m reading that nearly 60 percent of black women are obese and I decide to cut back on fatty foods and exercise more, is that really hurting anything? If I’m told that 50 percent of black women have herpes and I decide to wear a rubber the next time I engage in intimacy, is that a poor decision?

We asked fans of the I Love My Blackness and Your Black World Facebook fan pages one question: Why do you believe some African-Americans become offended by statistics regarding blacks and health? The question acquired more than 12,000 views, 185 “likes”, 100+ comments, and 10+ shares. Below are the top six questions/comments the Your Black World Network receives regarding our coverage on health.

  1. “Why are you always portraying black women in a negative light?” 
  2. “These statistics aren’t true. This is what ‘they’ want you to believe.”
  3. “Where are the statistics about black men with diseases? You’re just trying to make black women look bad.”
  4. “Why do you always focus on black people? Where are your statistics for white people?”
  5. “Me and my friends don’t have herpes, so this isn’t true.”
  6. “I’M black and I don’t have these problems. This is stupid.”

In conclusion, I am urging the black community to take data about our health seriously. As I posed before, what does it hurt? If you don’t like reading statistics about out-of-wedlock childbirths, STDs, heart disease, obesity, etc. challenge yourself and everyone within your grasp to take better care of their health. If each one teaches one, we’ll all be educated about these matters and how they affect our well-being as a community.

Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty. 


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  32. I think there is more to it than health statistics. Facing up to anything that in our minds is not flattering about us as a people, is pathological. Look at our spending habits. We will proudly give money to our church building fund while neglecting some of our personal obligations. I knew hardworking neighbors who pay for 2 luxury cars and take frequent vacation trips. I ain’t mad at that, but they told there very capable son, “If you don’t get a scholarship or a job you won’t go to College”. Some people overspend having lavish funerals for family, in the name of putting them away right and go into debt for years. As a people we are sick.

  33. I agree!…. leave the statistics out and give the information about prevention and healthy living—– nobody knows the truth about sickness—-why some stay healthy and some don’t——we’re always being accused of having the most of everything except “BRAINS”…take care of your health ladies and gentleman….stop stressing about “GARBAGE”….Eat light keep a clear mind and your system clean—know your family history(walk more)—“The chips will always fall where they may—–There are some diseases we as a race do not get and are unknown to us …”CHILL”.

  34. I know why they get mad. They think it is all the white man’s fault, and get pissed when you try to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the fault on this issue might actually belong to black people themselves.

  35. There are objective and open minded readers of this link in the African American Community. Please keep providing the information regarding health related issues and their impact on our sisters, brothers, and children. With current technology, it is most disconcerting that many of us do not utilize it to research further the issues that you highlighting. So many of the problems that are plaguing our communities are unfortunately rooted in those persons who choose not to be informed.

  36. As a doctor, this is what makes me want to give up on black people. The stats are the truth! Black people are unhealthy and respond in ignorance when people try to educate you. Why would you continue to perpetuate stereotypes of us? When I go to conferences I hear doctors talk about how blacks refuse to take care of themselves. So here is my response, if you want to be fat and miserable and unhealthy then do it! But don’t cry or bring your whole ignorant family to holler and scream on the emergency room when you are told that you may not survive your stroke or heart attack!

  37. Whether the statistics are proven or not is not the essence of the matter. All it takes is one look at folk in your immediate surroundings ( or yourself). Clearly, there are more obese African American women than there are those with normal weights. As a matter of fact, when I go to the “hood” to shop, I rarely see a Black woman of normal weight- from young girls all the way to the elderly. It is obvious that there are obese people in every race. However, the article is written for an audience of predominantly Black folk. One of the greatest problem among African Americans is that they don’t want to know how they can help themselves. They just want to know what you can do for them.

  38. Knowledge is power. Accepting truth is the first step to overcoming the obstacle. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the state of our health is problematic and our access to healthcare is even more problematic. If we are to rise above our present condition, it must be by our on hands. We must not allow the hard work of our ancestors be undermined by our donothing attitudes.

  39. Knowledge is power. Accepting truth is the first step to overcoming the obstacle. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the state of our health is problematic and our access to healthcare is even more problematic. If we are to rise above our present condition, it must be by our on hands. We must not allow the hard work of our ancestors be undermined by our donothing attitudes.

  40. And to this MC character, I know just as many Obese white people as I do black people. I see them all the time. So what are you saying really? It’s not about not being able to take the truth, it is about not being gullible to believe everything you read. Especially when it comes to statistics. Every high statistic written about African Americans JUST ALWAYS HAPPEN TO BE OF A NEGATIVE NATURE. GTFOOH. How come this Dr Boyce character NEVER EVER EVER EVE EVER writes the positive things in the lives of African Americans. Like how we are ore religious than most other races. And how we are more talented than most other races. Or how we seem to fear God more so. Those are not statistics I’m giving you, in case you hadn’t noticed. Those are my opinions. NOT FACTS. And neither are statistics. Do these silly rabbits know what has to happen to be able to say that 50% of African Americans are obese. It would mean that these Silly Rabbits came in contact with every single African American in the USA. Once again GTFOOH. And to all you Black people who have these degrees and want to try and shove your stats at us, save your efforts, because we look at you the same way we look at people like Herman Cain and Allen West.

  41. The issue is that people like you ALWAYS take the word of some European studies as if it’s law. We all know that PEOPLE in GENERAL have health issues. Black White, Asian all of us. But we are sick and tired of people like you, bringing us statistics. If you want to help your people, just talk about healthy living. Why put statistics into the equation. Unless I see someone actually testing a certain race or sex, I do not believe what is in writing. You can call it denial, ignorance or whatever you’d like. You are not God, nor Jesus and NOBODY ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT IS TRUTH except for God. Stop always putting race into things. if this is a Black oriented blog, then you don’t even need to mention African Americans because we know who you’re speaking to

  42. You just can’t reach some people. Folk get mad at the truth. You know what? Forget the stats. I guarantee that every black person knows an obese black person. I bet $10 to a bucket of poop that every black person knows a black person who has had a child without being married. And I bet that every black person knows someone who had/has an STD. You may not know they have it, but they had it. Nobody wants YOU to tell THEM about THEIR problems, but who else is going to do it?!

  43. Instead of “you” getting mad, why don’t you take into consideration those six questions you listed!

    Where are your FACTS/statistics that 50 percent of Black women have herpes?!

    When you publish these negative stories about Black women, why not give the statistics for Black MEN as well??

    It’s the same with that “Hoodwinked.” They show the little Black girls choosing the wrong dolls. Did they do a study on little Black boys (Ken dolls) and see who they chose? Heaven knows, our little Black boys have an even worse problem?

    • Barbara, I understand your frustration. The statistics seem to only point to certain groups (black women in this case). But that doesn’t mean that the statistics being promoted aren’t still true. It is human nature to deflect; like when you were a little kid and you argued to your mother that “everyone else is doing it” . . . your mother didn’t allow you to use other kids’ misbehaviour to avoid the fact that you were misbehaving. It is uncomfortable when someone points the finger at us. It is even more uncomfortabe when the finger pointing at us is actually right. The truth is that 60% of black women are obese. In and of itself, that statistic is useless; the real reason that these sort of stats are put out there is so that inidividual who is in the group being targeted (in this case black women) will stop long enough to admit — if only to themselves — that she might have a problem that needs to be fixed. Public health people are trying to get people’s attention; it is so easy to become complacent about a problem that is a problem that I have. Same with STD statistics — they tell people this stuff so that maybe people will think about their own behavior and recognize that it could very well happen to them. When I was in college, they used to give out the stat that 30% of women at the college I attended (I was a predominately white college) have herpes. That will make a guy think about precautions (if not abstinance) the next time he’s about to “get lucky.”

  44. It’s better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie…