Tag Archives: Featured

Lupita & Kerry – A Litmus Test for Racism?

LupitaNyongO-Photo-Source:http://www.Swide.comLupita Nyong’O brought attention to the historic snubbing of black women actors when she won an Oscar for Best Female Supporting Actress in the movie 12 Years a Slave. For weeks now, we’ve not heard her name mentioned without it being prefaced by the word “beautiful”.  Her face is that of the little girl who lives across the street, your best friend’s baby or one of your cousins. It’s honest and portrays innocence. It is a face of Truth.

Ellen DeGeneres, while hosting the 2014 Oscars, cracked that if 12 Years a Slave and Lupita Nyong’O were ignored by the Academy, then we would all know that it was clearly racism.

When the television series, Scandal – starring the outstanding Kerry Washington, first started, the majority media was eerily quiet about it.  When NPR (stellar in fair media and a media beacon on diverse issues)  introduced its picks for the 2013 fall TV season, even they completely overlooked Scandal. Sort of in the manner that older whites don’t mention a friend’s black mistress.  Yet most black folks were breaking their necks to get in front of the TV on Thursday nights. Didn’t the rest of America recognize a juicy drama like we did? Even though they were silent on it, we knew they were “retiring for bed early” so they could watch it on their bedroom TVs while their spouses were either clueless or quietly (earphones in) watching on the den TV.

KerryWashingtonpicKerry went on to win the first Emmy awarded to a black actress in the last eighteen years. While Lena Horne and Halle Berry and so many others have shown incredible talent over the years, both Ms. Washington and Ms. Nyong’O bring something that America can’t deny respect for: Ivy League educations  and a presence made so powerful through both their physical grace and words that fall out of their mouths as if poetic geniuses were at their lips crafting them.

There is no doubt, that as women go, they are exceptional.  And that as black women go, they are carrying brown beautifully. They are also reminding us to look around us, where we see the Kerries and Lupitas in our communities every day. The Michelle Obamas and Susan Rices fill our classrooms. Their faces are those of the little girls who live across the street from us, our older sisters and ourselves, yesterday, today and tomorrow. They (and We) carry the truth of Spirit.

“May it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”(Lupita Nyong’O)

Racism May Speed Up Aging in Black Men

University of Maryland researcher, Dr. David H. Chae, completed a study of the effects of racism on African American men. It is already known that African Americans have shorter life spans and increased chances of suffering stress-related illnesses.

Telomeres, DNA sequences that cap the ends of chromosomes, were examined in 92 African American men, ages 30 to 50 years old. The men were questioned about their experiences of being discriminated against. In addition, these men were tested on their own attitudes toward their race. This measure, along with their experiences of being discriminated against, was associated with shorter telomeres. The telomeres are the cells’ way of stimulating the growth of new cells to replace damaged cells in the human body. The shorter the telomeres, the fewer new cells the body makes and the less the body is able to fight off disease and disability.

Photo:Wikipedia
Photo:Wikipedia

The men with fewer experiences of racism had longer telomeres than those with greater experiences of racism. Those men who had positive attitudes toward other blacks (less racial bias), had longer telomeres as well.  Per Dr. Chae, “African American men who have more positive views of their racial group may be buffered from the negative impact of racial discrimination.”

Researchers reported that participants felt discriminated against most frequently by police and at their jobs. They also felt discriminated against by service providers in restaurants and stores. In addition, the study noted that African American men reported being routinely treated with less courtesy and respect and experiencing more “daily hassles” which contribute to their overall experience of racism.

The effect of having negative attitudes about their own race is both intriguing and troubling. One wonders, though, if self-hatred & group self-hatred could be sparked by a sense of helplessness & hopelessness. If one thinks that being black is a characteristic that causes negative treatment would that affect how the body responds to illness? Would a man blame himself if he were targeted for poor treatment? And would he assume that other brothers, particularly younger brothers, deserve their prison sentences, for example, for fairly minor offenses?

While telomere shortening provides biological evidence of the effect of racism and explains the increase in premature death due to dementia, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, Dr. Chae puts it in simple terms. “Racism”, he says, “literally makes people old.” Maybe it also unconcsiously makes them biased toward other blacks.

“Discrimination, Racial Bias, and Telomere Length in African-American Men”,  David H. Chae (University of Maryland, College Park); Amani M. Nuru-Jeter ( University of California, Berkeley); Nancy E. Adler, Jue Lin, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, and Elissa S. Epel ( University of California, San Francisco); and Gene H. Brody (Emory University), American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February, 2014. The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, the University of California, and Emory University.

How to reduce “Baby-Mama” drama

Probably one of the most intense of dramas that frequent the therapy office is that of distraught, frustrated folks trying to co-parent. They rely on the court, the visitation schedule, the child support orders to communicate their interpersonal pain.

One can’t understand why the other left the relationship but they can understand how to make visitation difficult. One may have trouble being heard in person but they can make themselves heard through a subpoena. Often they don’t realize they are playing out dramas from their own childhoods – issues they can’t or don’t know to address. This is an instance when employing a therapist to mediate and facilitate more effective communication between estranged partners is a child-saving decision.

As early in the process as possible, begin using these steps to reduce the drama:

1.  Set a good intention in place around your interactions. Be determined to be courteous no matter what.  Remember, your kids are watching you. For example, say something like, “I really appreciate your patience in working on this” or “I want us to come up with a schedule that works for both of us”.
Or, how about a big intention like, “We are not going to let our relationship problems make our kids miserable or constantly worried. If nothing else, we’re going to keep them out of the drama”.

2. Stay calm. Give your co-parent an “out” when the situation gets tense. Try keeping a calm, low voice tone and say, “I can see this is so upsetting for you. Maybe we should think about it a little more and talk in a couple of days”.

3. Acknowledge your co-parent’s strengths and best efforts. “You’ve always been better at scheduling than I. I’m so glad that the baby can always depend on you….” or “You are such a good mother. Johnnie’s clothes are always so well organized. I really appreciate that!”

Now, you might be thinking, “Why should I make him or her look good when he or she has been such a jerk?” Because it makes you look even better. It also gives you some power over the situation, since if you’re kind or appreciative, your ex-partner might calm down and be nicer to you.

Try it! Consider it to be your own personal research into what will make your life easier.  Try different approaches and make note of what works better. Remember, there can’t be an argument if you won’t participate.

For a great resource to help you handle custody & support issues, check out attorney Alicia Crowe’s manual, Real Dads Stand Up

Detox your body & detox your brain

One of several books by Karyn Calabrese on how to stay disease and pain-free.
One of several books by Karyn Calabrese on how to stay disease and pain-free.

Now, after all that holiday eating, you can clean up your body internally. This makes your brain happy as well. A happy brain means happy moods, not to mention better health. Karyn Calabrese, a Chicago native and detox guru, breaks it down in her books on detoxing and healthy – really healthy – eating.

This sixty-six year old (yep, that’s a recent picture) says she hasn’t had a cold in 30 years by eating this way. Can’t sleep, grumpy, achy joints, skin problems, depression, anxiety & blood sugar problems? Make it your New Year’s resolution to order one of Karyn’s books, available through her website, http://www.karynraw.com or on Amazon.com. Kindle version available.

Not surprisingly, many have found that after changing their diets, eliminating processed food & the chemicals in them and providing their brains with improved vitamin & mineral sources – their depression, anxiety, mania, etc. goes away.  Cheaper than many of those drugs and none of the risks.

More on great anti-aging foods

Soak Your Nuts: Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods, Book Publishing Company, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1570672750.

Soak Your Nuts:Cleansing With Karyn: Detox Secrets for Inner Healing and Outer Beauty,  Healthy Living Publications, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-1570672644.