Guest blogger C’BS ALife Allah is a nationally recognized speaker, lecturer who can reach any audience, and author of The Hood Health Handbook: A Practical Guide to Health and Wellness in the Urban Community. He is a gifted speaker in the areas of health, youth issues, white supremacy, online media, and generating solutions.
My father is a man of distinction. He was born in 1922 and experienced the highs and lows that come with traveling from that point in time until now. He is a Black man with a stout sense of pride in how he presents himself. So I grew up seeing my father always aware of his clothing, from his suits, to his hats, to his shoes, to the pipe that he constantly smoked. The pipe was definitely part of his charisma. Though I remember the smell of the various tobacco blends that used to fill his pipe, I also have another memory that accompanies it. The aromatic smoke that filled our house often triggered and worsened my asthma when I was a tyke.
Before you start to think that my father was callous, take into consideration that it was the ‘70s and all of the causes of asthma weren’t really known or publicized. I grew up in the ‘hood. We didn’t know that roaches and other vermin led to issues with asthma. We didn’t know that those shaggy ‘70’s rugs held so much dust and mold. We didn’t realize that traffic shuttling around the ‘hood decreased our air quality. We didn’t realize that all of those abandoned houses and factories added to that horrible air quality. As far as we knew, asthma just “ran in the family.”
Yet after doctor visits, pills/liquid medicine/inhalers, asthma attacks during ragweed season and many more things, something happened. My father gave up smoking. He put away the pouch of tobacco and his carved wooden pipes…forever.
Please don’t get me wrong — my mother was forever my angel. She made sure that I was comfortable, soothed me with Vicks, and surely slept light a large portion of her lifetime. Yet I also fondly remember the moment my father gave up one of his indulgences to better the life of his son.
Many times, fathers forget that the nurturing aspect of parenting is one that is shared by the mother AND father. In fact I would argue that it is awareness of this male nurturing that is the determining factor in the definition for a father. As a father, you owe it to your children to make sure that the system bends to your will when it comes to the welfare of your children. My mother, my father and my environment all led me to my current focus on Hood Health, which unveils the health disparities within the Black and Brown community.
I eventually beat asthma through a change in my diet and personal investment in some natural therapies. When I see a host of children in the hood with inhalers who can’t even indulge in a game of kickball, though, I remember that it isn’t just about me…it is about “we.” It is easy to deal with issues on the micro-level, yet we must be engaged on the macro-level. And these are some things that you can do.
*Please find out who your local and state representatives are. Find out where they stand on all issues regarding public health, air quality, etc. Hold them accountable to the people. Show up at their meetings. Hit them through email and social media. Make some noise
* Get in tune with any local organizations that deal with environmental racism and/or environmental justice. Use their resources to get yourself educated on exactly what contributes to the rate of asthma within the inner city and children.
*You need to put in work! Find out what the resources are for asthmatics in your city. Become an extension of their outreach committees. Get info for parents of asthmatics so that they are aware of how habits (like smoking) affect the quality of life for their children.
*If any areas of your neighborhood attract vermin, figure out ways to get it cleaned up. This includes abandoned buildings. If that grass is growing crazy, whoever owns that house is responsible for it, even if no one is living in it.
*One of the final and most important things that you can do is find like-minded people. Find the parents of asthmatics, find the community organizers…join together as one.