black lives matter and nutrition – a reflection

The conversation around black lives matter started as the violence against black bodies by law enforcement escalated. Black bodies dying at the hands of law enforcement could no longer be denied. Those who would in the past say that law enforcement shoot to kill when they are scared for their lives could no longer use that argument when faced with images and videos of unarmed black bodies being shot in the back.

One thing that came to light for me with those happenings was how white people are scared of black and brown bodies due to systemic racism and being socialized by the media into believing that people of color were more dangerous than their white counterpart. You’ve heard this next point made a million times but here it is for the millionth and one time because it’s important. A white boy shoots up a school and they’re time and time again apprehended without being shot dead. Several white boys do this over and over again but what we see in the media are pictures of them from prom or how they are mentally troubled. When a black boy is shot in the back because law enforcement ‘suspected’ he had a weapon, what we see in the media is his mug shots and how he skipped classes in elementary school in an effort to further indoctrinate in the minds of white Americans how dangerous black boys are.

This is the systemic, socialized thoughts that the all lives matter people refuse to recognize. White allies in the BLM movement recognize it in them and make efforts to change their erroneous thought processes surrounding people of color – especially black men. This is a great thing and we welcome all the white allies who are ready to do the work of changing the system of oppression that black folks live under in America.

How does the BLM movement have anything to do with nutrition you ask? Black and brown bodies are dying at a higher percentage than their white counterparts from health related issues that are often preventable. Due to the systemic withdrawal of funding in black, poor and rural communities, members of these communities are not able to get access to the education, resources and funds needed to make nutritious choices for themselves and their families.

I’m able to leave my door in LA and within a 5 mile radius, there are 2 Whole Foods Markets, one Trader Joe’s and a multitude of other health food shops. Same thing with all sorts of gyms from traditional gyms to yoga studios, Pilates studios and CrossFit gyms and the list goes on and on.

Suffice it to say, I live in a predominantly white neighborhood so go figure. This is not unique to LA. It’s a fact that inner cities and black and brown neighborhoods are filled with fast food joints and liquor stores and no grocery stores to be found within a reasonable radius that will allow those without private transportation the ease of accessing them.

This is not happenstance. This is intentional. This is systemic. This is harmful. As such, we have generations of children growing up with no access to fresh fruits and vegetables and no means of transportation to travel to the bougie neighborhoods to get it.

So, while I’m all for body positivity and loving your bodies no matter what, I can’t deny the health effects from poor nutrition on black bodies. Black lives matter all the way. We deserve to live healthy, happy lives. We deserve to have access to education to make an informed decision regarding our nutrition.

We deserve healthcare professionals who are not biased against black bodies. This is part of my work both as a nurse and a nutrition coach. Eating better is a good idea for everyone regardless of race and status. Black and brown bodies deserve to get the same access to education on modifiable risk factors as it pertains to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes etc.

This isn’t about perpetuating diet culture. This isn’t about weight loss. This isn’t about hating your fat body. I’m not here for that. I’m here to ensure that when people make decisions regarding their health, they’re making informed decisions.

It is a systemic issue that is multifaceted but I believe that black lives matter and for that reason, I am committed to making sure that black, brown and poor folks get access to the information that the white and privileged have.

There’s no reason the mortality rate of black people should be so much higher than white people.


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