During a recent Moms Clean Air Force twitter chat: African American Asthma Rates and What Moms Can Do About It (listen to a related MCAF podcast here) , I was intrigued to learn about C’BS ALife Allah and his Hood Health Handbook. It truly is a small world, because when I read C’BS ALife Allah’s tweets about community outreach, I realized he was talking about my area. Sure enough, Hood Health is based here in Connecticut! I’m so excited to share an interview with C’BS ALife Allah today!
Hood Health is acknowledging that there are health disparities that are rooted in race. This includes, yet is not limited to, issues of poverty, environment, access to service and dissemination of information. In acknowledging all of the above what Hood Health seeks to do is identify these disparities and repackage the delivery of the message so that those who are in most need of the message actually receive it and are able to comprehend it.
How did you get the idea for Hood Health?
The idea for Hood Health came about from my own experiences. I grew up with asthma. When in high school I got off of dairy and was able to go on and become all state in Track and Field. I saw that one element change made a huge difference. I started to then see what else could I do to reach my own personal potential. In college I became exposed to the vegan movement yet it was clearly from a White perspective. Though I could see some issues that definitely addressed health in the hood I also still saw racial issues of racism and entitlement not being dealt with. I also saw that the presentation, for all intents and purposes, was too ‘corny’ for my peers. They don’t want to eat form of tofu or granola yet they would down a good plate of rice and bean or savory soup.
How did your parents and/or children influence your choice to start Hood Health?
My mother and father both grew up on the farm. My father is 89 and grew up in Kentucky. My mother grew up picking cotton in Arizona. They were very conscious of the difference in the quality of farm food vs the fast food that started to be pushed on the youth in the 80’s. I was fortunate to taste farm grown vegetables while growing up. It made me reflect on how many of my own peers have never tasted farm grown veggies or meat so they have no frame of reference to compare the junk that they are eating nowadays to. They instilled in me quality in what we put in our body. Also they both passed down to me countless home remedies that definitely work.
My son reminds me to not skimp on quality. He reminds me that we have to pass this knowledge down. We can’t afford to let corporations, big business, etc. destroy the traditional centers of health and wellness. They don’t have our best interests at heart.
How has the community received Hood Health? Can you tell me about some successes?
I am constantly humbled by the response that it has gotten. Even from its inception it was blessed. Dick Gregory, the noteworthy Black activist and health advocate agreed to write our intro when he found out what the book was about. He realized that the message of health had to be repackaged for a new generation. It also made me realize that most people do not have this information. When we clean ourselves up and review this stuff all of the time we tend to start to think of it as ‘common sense’ yet this is not the case at all. Thus the ones who have the information forget the art of speaking to the people. As a result of our push we are at the point of setting up several Hood Health conferences next year in Oakland, Houston, and Boston. The people are the one who made that decision.
What would you tell someone who wants to get involved in community health or environmental activism but doesn’t know where to begin?
That is such a multi-faceted question because it is so different from community to community. There is definitely a lot of room for people to develop programs and reach the people. Of course I say that our book is a good place to start. In addition start with people who are doing some of the work. Find the farmer’s market and build with the farmers. Do a search on environmental racism and see if there are organizations in your town or area. Sometimes one of the simplest things that we can do is get information out. Merge health information with whatever you are doing and wherever we go whether it is a party, barbershop, etc.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Health is a natural right that shouldn’t be denied due to any type of disparity. The greatest open secret is that the tools to improve our health and wellness have always been right in our grasp. It just depends on a change of perspective and people coming together.
Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. We need your voice! If you haven’t already, please email the EPA to show your support of the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. Thank you!