Life Holidays & Observances Black History Month
"Black Health and Wellness" is the
Black History Month 2022.
This year's theme for Black History Month, "Black Health and Wellness", takes a look at how American healthcare has often underserved the African-American community.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has recently shown, a widespread disparity of access to quality healthcare negatively impacted outcomes for blacks and other minorities.
For African-Americans, the root of the problem goes deep, and back centuries.
Beginning with slavery and, later, a lack of economic opportunity, often put medical care out of reach for many African-Americans.
Even in good economic times, during the Jim Crow era "Whites Only" hospitals were commonplace throughout the South. Black medical facilities were often understaffed, underfunded, or non-existent. This stark reality gave credence to the saying: “When white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia.”
Black folk remedies helped pick up the slack involving rituals and incantations, harking back to its African roots. Many plant-based medicine were also part of the cure. These included garlic for high blood pressure, and aloe vera for skin injuries which have since been validated in scientific studies.
It was only well into the 20th century when Black America was given a better shot at institutional health care. That's when the US government threatened to withhold Medicare payments to 'Whites Only" medical institutions and -- almost overnight -- hospitals were desegregated. The year was 1964, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
More than 40 years later, following years of negotiations with the health insurance industry, the Affordable Care Act was eventually passed by the Obama administration that gave better access to medical care for Americans of all colors.
Today, (almost unbelievably for a rich industrialized nation), the US continues to lag woefully behind the rest of the world in providing affordable medical care for a majority of its citizens. As a result, African-Americans, other minorities and especially the poor continue to remain the country's most vulnerable.
Resources for Black History Month 2022
Race, Equality and Health Care for African Americans
Health and race disparities in America have deep roots: A brief timeline
Black History Month 2021 rewind
Black History Month returned to its roots with a new focus on black family ties in 2021.
The theme for 2021, "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity", explored the wide-ranging diversity of black family life -- from single to two-parent households to nuclear, extended and, more recently, bi-racial.
Throughout black history, factors such as slavery, inequality and poverty have put pressure on maintaining family ties, especially during hard times when a better life meant traveling far from home.
This may certainly be the reason why family reunions have always remained popular with African-Americans. Today, that means annual get-togethers with far-flung family members reunited every year to joyfully exchange stories, memories and photos of the grandkids.
Paradoxically, economic pressures that pull black communities apart can also unite them. Even today friends and neighbors may pool resources, or find job opportunities for one another, or simply seek emotional comfort within their own micro-community -- where the title of "brother" or "auntie" may be bestowed upon close friends.
Throughout American history, the black community has always exhibited an unwavering understanding of the value of family as an incomparable source of comfort, strength, and even survival.
Resources for Black History Month 2021
PBS.org - The Slave Experience: FAMILY
Encyclopedia.com - African American Families
All about Black History Month
Black History Month first originated as part of an initiative by writer and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who launched Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson proclaimed that Negro History Week should always occur in the second week of February — between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Since 1976, every American president has proclaimed February as Black History Month. Today, other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom also devote an entire month to celebrating black history.
The Web is a great place to find out more about that history — in poetry, literature, the arts, sciences, sports and entertainment — making Black History Month a time of fun, celebration, and learning.