black-health

Nina Simone was an American singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist.

Simone started playing piano by ear when she was 3 years old. She played piano in her mother’s church and soon began to study classical music with an Englishwoman called Muriel Mazzanovich. She developed a love of Bach, Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert. Her community raised money for her to study at Julliard in New York City. Despite her working as an accompanist and teaching piano she ran out of money before she could complete her studies. She then applied to the Curtis Institute or Music in Philadelphia but was denied admission. Simone maintained that she was rejected due to her race.

Simone continued to teach piano and in 1954 she auditioned to sing at the Midtown Bar & Grill on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She had turned away from classical music and was now transforming popular tunes of the day into a unique synthesis of jazz, blues, and classical music. Her rich, deep singing voice and her incredible piano ability attracted club goers from up and down the East Coast. She adopted the name ‘Nina Simone’ to hide the fact that she was 'working in the fires of hell’ according to her mother’s beliefs.

Simone recorded her first album when she was 24 entitled “Little Girl Blue”. In the same recording session she cut “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” previously recorded by Nate King Cole, Count Basie, and Woody Herman. The song was used in a Chanel perfume commercial in Europe in the 1980’s but Simone only gained fame from it, she never saw a penny of royalties having sold her rights to the recording for $3,000.

By the 1960’s Simone became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, writing “Mississipi Goddam” in response to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young African-American girls. The single was boycotted in many Southern states. Simone spoke at many civil rights meetings, like the Selma to Montgomery marches. Unlike Martin Luther King’s non-violent approach Simone believed that they should use armed combat to create a separate state for African-Americans. She recorded “Why (The King of Love Is Dead)” in response to the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Simone struggled with her mental health, finances (a warrant had to be issued for her arrest because of unpaid taxes) and her abusive husband/manager Andrew Stroud whom she eventually fled from. Tired of both her life with her husband and the racial politics of the U.S. Simone moved to several different countries including Liberia, Switzerland, England, Barbados and France.

In the 1980’s her song “My Baby Just Cares For Me” revived her career and she toured periodically to support herself. By this point she was divorced and this inspired the title of her final album “A Single Woman.” She eventually settled in Carry-le-Rout, Bouches-du-Rhone where she lived until her death.

Simone was a prolific recording artist, with over 40 albums in her discography. She was a highly influential musician and inspired a great many others including, but not limited to: Aretha Franklin; Joni Mitchell; Elton John; David Bowie; Jeff Buckley; Nick Cave; Kanye West; Ian MacKaye and Lykke Li.

Sources here, here and here.

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“OLDEST BODY BUILDER ERNESTINE SHEPHERD ”


She is 76 years old “he started working out in her 50′s which truly shows no one is ever too old to get fit! She was trained by a former Mr. America.” “She runs 10 miles or more a day? How many of us can’t even run 1 mile at a time?”

“If we, as women and men, truly look to our elders, like Mrs. Ernestine Shepherd, we could learn so much. Its time that we, as people, find a true purpose. We write so much on the negative issues in our world, when we there are wonderful examples of the good side of our world like Mrs. Shepherd. If we could really focus on self preservation, respecting others and helping others in what we do, God would be so pleased. Let’s get inspired by this angel of a woman that should make anyone jump up and get a heads start on being fit for life. We’re running at this moment….!! Lol”


Study Links Hair Relaxers To Fibroid Tumors and Early Puberty In African American Females

Scientists followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal Black American women from 1997 to 2009 and found that the two- to three-times higher rate of fibroids among black women may be linked to chemical exposure through scalp lesions and burns resulting from relaxers.

Women who got their first menstrual period before the age of 10 were also more likely to have uterine fibroids, and early menstruation may result from hair products black girls are using, according to a separate study published in the Annals of Epidemiology last summer.

Three hundred African American, African Caribbean, Hispanic, and White women in New York City were studied. The women’s first menstrual period varied anywhere from age 8 to age 19, but African Americans, who were more likely to use straightening and relaxers hair oils, also reached menarche earlier than other racial/ethnic groups.

While so far, there is only an association rather than a cause and effect relationship between relaxers, fibroid tumors, and puberty, many experts have been quick to point out that the hair care industry isn’t regulated by the FDA, meaning that there’s no definite way to fully know just how harmful standard Black hair care products really are. [BLM/YBW]

Goodmorning loves. With all forces of oppression working against the spirits & bodies of Black women, femmes, and girls, my sister and I are beginning to start each day with meditation & affirmations. This is a way to to build sisterhood and self love, as well as experience, practice, and live oneness of mind, body, and soul with the divine. Today’s affirmation, I am loved, I am powerful, & I believe in my strength. (pls don’t remove caption <3)

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Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899, Montgomery, Al. – April 19, 1975, Waukegan, Illinois) was a U.S. research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was the first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine, and a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of the human hormones,steroidsprogesterone, and testosterone, from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work would lay the foundation for the steroid drug industry’s production of cortisone, other corticosteroids, and birth control pills.

He later started his own company to synthesize steroid intermediates from the Mexican wild yam. His work helped greatly reduce the cost of steroid intermediates to large multinational pharmaceutical companies, helping to significantly expand the use of several important drugs.

During his lifetime he received more than 130 chemical patents. Julian was one of the first African-Americans to receive a doctorate in chemistry. He was the first African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the second African-American scientist inducted from any field.

vimeo

Teaser trailer for Fog (2016)

Fog follows Valerie, a successful Black female attorney, who must navigate a major career move and the return of her college-aged daughter while hiding her deteriorating mental health. The film includes a 90s sitcom kinda like The Fresh Prince within it that reflects how people see Valerie and her personal expectations parallel to her turbulent interior life. 

Starring April Grace

Written and Directed by Chelsea Woods

Part of the 2015 AFI Directing Workshop for Women

Support Fog’s post-production by donating through AFI.com

Magic Johnson turns 55 today. 23 years ago, that seemed impossible 

Back in 1991, Magic Johnson, then 32, shocked the world and announced that he was HIV-positive. Living to middle age seemed all but impossible. Instead, Johnson has thrived, providing a vivid example of what’s possible when a person has access to the world’s best HIV/AIDS treatment. The sad part is that he is the exception, not the rule, in black America.

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18 Images That Show What It’s Really Like In A Mental Hospital

It can be hard for people who don’t live with mental illness to understand the terrifying nuances that come with the disorders. That’s exactly why 21-year-old Dutch photographer Laura Hospes published a series of stunning self-portraits that expose what mental illness can really be like.

Splitting

is a thought pattern symptom of mental disorders (primarily, borderline personality disorder) in which one can not combine or equally distribute positive and negative qualities of oneself, others, or situations, into a united whole.

When one is upset, angry, or anxious, it may be hard to focus on anything else, calm oneself, or view different outcomes and optimism. This is normal.

Splitting, on the other hand, is a defense mechanism that results as a disturbance in cognitive development and functioning. This affects social functioning, relations, emotional reactions, and every day life, persistently.

It is a primary symptom of borderline personality disorder- BPD is a chronic mental disorder in which systematic emotional reactions are hypersensitivite, and thus, the body has difficulty regulating and balancing out such extremities.

Splitting occurs in such a condition because the intense reactions often result in an inability to separate the reactions to factors and qualities. Emotions alter the way transmitters and thought processes function. Additionally, the frontal lobe and limbic system, which play a major role in thought processes, regulation, social relations, and triggers, have been shown to have volume differences.
Furthermore, the autonomic nervous system, which consists of two parts, (fight or flight, rest and digest) plays a huge role in decision making and thought patterns. This is easily triggered and hypersensitive in people with BPD (fight or flight-sympathetic system), and it also doesn’t regulate properly (rest and digest- parasympathetic system).
It influences and calls for a defense, decision, and thinking pattern, right then, on the spot. When a perceived threat occurs, the body basically says there is no time for “maybes.”
With such emotional extremity and differences as opposed to individuals without the condition, splitting takes place.

Splitting also occurs due to trauma, as it can alter brain functions and reinforce disorders in some individuals. Emotional regulation and trauma are interconnected, and individuals with BPD are easily triggered or many have underwent trauma in their lives. Likewise, it is also known to occur in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Examples of splitting scenarios include (possible tw):
1. In this scenario, say there is a boy who was abused as a child. As he grows older, he then associates every other person that reminds them of the abuser, as the abuser themselves.
A. -i.e., He was abused by a father figure, to which he then associates every male he sees with a son, as an abuser, like his own.
B. -i.e., He was abused by someone that was a teacher, so he has intense fears, extreme negative views of teachers, and makes no distinction between them.
C. -i.e., He was abused by a neighbor, so he avoids every neighbor or treats them all the same way that he would the abuser.
D. -The splitting affects and alters the way he feels, communicates, socializes, whether or not he isolates himself, and so on.

2. In this second scenario, someone with borderline personality disorder has an intense reaction to a perceived abandonment (a main symptom reaction) to a significant other, due to a defect in object permanence. They then associate such perception and reaction to the person, and have an inability to distribute or balance out such perceived fears to the individual.


A component of splitting also includes idealization and devaluation.
-Idealization
is addressing such emotional stressor or trigger by attributing exaggerated positive qualities
-Devaluation is addressing such emotional stressor or trigger by attributing exaggerated negative qualities

People with BPD may switch between such depending on the emotional reaction- positive or negative- and also may switch depending on perception.

3. Typically, people with BPD “devalue” themselves. Emotional reactions may result in a cognitive pattern of viewing ones self as completely and intensely shameful, bad, evil, or “not real.”

4. In this scenario, say someone with BPD “idealizes” someone in their life by definitive involvement, care, praise, gifts, or admiration, etc. They also frequently talk about such a person highly. Without warning, they then cut off contact and stop talking highly about them.
This switch could be due to a perception (abandonment) or emotional reaction (anger, identity symptoms, etc), trauma, or multiple other possibilities.

Other very general communication examples of splitting may include:
A. “Always and never” statements
-In scenario 1 A, for example: “I never want to see another father with their son. They always look so miserable, and I want to save them.”
-In scenario 1 B, for example: “Teachers are always the same way, and they never treat me right.”

B. “One way or another/this or that” statements
-In scenario 2, for example: “You are either there for me, or you’re not. When you’re not here, you completely leave me.”
-Someone perceives negative meaning to what someone said or did due to a reaction

C. “Okay or ruined” statements or outlooks
-Someone views a situation as unfixible, ruined, and impossible, with the outcome already determined, rather than with multiple cohesive parts, resolutions, and causes

Overall, notice how this can happen in various situations and components and can occur differently and uniquely per individual context.

For instance, if you look at all the ways this can present itself from various situations, reactions (emotions), and aspects, plus combine it with the difficulty in BPD with thought processing, and other symptoms, you’ll see how different it can present itself and the complexity.

Such a symptom and condition is often confusing or misunderstood by some individuals, so I hoped to provide awareness and education in this post.

Black Activism, “Divisiveness” and The White Gaze

It happens. Two or more hypervisible Black people using social media disagree in a major way. It could be on interpersonal issues. It could be on a specific aspect of protesting, organizing, or engaging solidarity. It could be on intraracial intersectional issues or privilege, power, and access. These Black people could self-identify as activists, womanists, Black feminists, protestors, organizers or these identifications could be forced/projected on them. These Black people could self-identify as media, academics, journalists etc. or these identifications could be forced on them as well. They could be theist or not. Old or young. New to activism or seasoned and experienced. The same reaction happens each time. Opportunistic White people–often ones who self-label as “progressive,” “leftist,” “radical” or “allies” in general–start rabid hyperconsumption, behavior policing, and social cacophony. But they are White. They are in the position to harm, regardless. They are not automatically “safe” people simply because they are not “conservative.” For many Black people and I, this has been obvious for years; for other Black people, perhaps it just became obvious upon viewing some Whites’ recent responses to any Black people who rightfully critique Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as autonomous people who are voters. However, I am interested in a different response. The one from some fellow Black people. The one tied into centering the White Gaze into how we view ourselves. The one where the burden of fictive kinship becomes too great and in fact quite unsafe as well: the desire to perform “unity” as a reaction to the fear of the White Gaze, versus actually being accountable, diverse, nuanced and flawed human beings who agree or disagree, and experience actual emotions.

The desire to perform “unity” for the White Gaze is rooted in respectability politics. Black people were “unified” and peaceful and still were beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge on Bloody Sunday in 1965, for example. This idea that Black activists have to perform “perfect humanity,” or racist Whites will get “satisfaction,” hides the fact that racism is much worse. It is so much more worse than what gives Whites pleasure, although I have critiqued that particular violent pleasure before. People who defend the extrajudicial executions of Aiyana Jones and Tamir Rice–killed at ages 7 and 12–have no concept of humanity for Black people. People who immediately demand forgiveness for Black death via the State or Whites protected by the State, have no concept of the vulnerability of Black people; to them, we are not humans who actual feel. No performance of “unity”–especially in social media space–would alter this. Thus, hiding disagreements, nuances and flaws really does nothing. They hate that we exist and who we are; this goes much past disliking our personalities or actions as activists (if such a label is taken on) or as Black people, in general. And they don’t even have to individually hate anyone Black to oppress us either. The kind of people who hyperconsumed video/images of and defended Eric Garner’s death are going to change their opinions of Black activists if those same activists hide every humanly disagreement and disconnect themselves from their own individual humanity? They’re not. Some Black people do still think that there’s a certain way to perform humanity that we simply haven’t accessed yet and once we enact it, Black death will stop. The problem is 523 years of history–starting in what we know as the Caribbean now, through South America and the United States–say there’s no way to “perform” properly, to avoid Black death. We can only confirm that Black bodies have been treated as disposable for centuries–since exploitation in Africa–and that even while human, and flawed, we have fought against this, and in many ways even beyond “pounding the pavement.”

Now, do I despise opportunistic racist Whites slithering around salivating to Black people–especially hypervisible Black activists–disagreeing? Yes. I am tired of opportunistic anti-Black sentiments; White people who think racism is somehow “right” if Black people critique Black art or disagree on certain aspects of activism. Some White progressive trolls wait like predators for any 2 hypervisible Black people to disagree to start their attacks. I mean, this is old. White surveillance is old. White opportunism and exploitation is old. It’s only playing out in some new ways because social media is a fairly new medium. But if your primary concern–as a Black person–is performing “unity” because of worry about White opinions versus being honest about real emotion/disagreement? Then you don’t get it yet. You still think that Black people aren’t performing humanity well enough to deserve to live. You just don’t know it. You don’t know that’s what’s framing your retreat to respectability politics and silencing, but it is. I didn’t see any posts or videos of Sandra Bland arguing with other Black activists. Most of us agree with her powerful videos and quotes. As far as I know, she was not involved in any hypervisible disagreements online prior to her death in the hands of the State. She’s still dead though. She’s gone. Explain how performing “unity” to the point that you’re denying your own emotions and safety will keep you safe from the State? I…need to know. Earlier this week when I mentioned that we all need to study past movements, this was not about studying a “script” to “perform” humanity for Whites. A summary of what I mentioned: 

You have to study movements. Study study study. See what the errors were. Deconstruct them. Share that info. Don’t repeat. Difficult; true. Common movement problems over history: Demagoguery by choice and by force. Replicating oppressive organizational structure. Not centering the margin; aligning resources via the same oppressive hierarchies that are being fought. Not understanding that though revolution is always the goal, sometimes sheer survival requires reform. This sucks; it is an aspect of a complex existence, however. Thinking grassroots but acting AstroTurf; not spreading tasks and power across board for efficacy. Not engaging legitimate critique and not offering legitimate critique. Hero/villain critique styles.

When I said this, the White Gaze was not my concern at all. I was concerned about seeing repeating patterns that I have read about in previous generations and experienced in my own as well. What it was about is learning what causes similar generational errors and mistakes in activist spaces and organizing. I’m not interested in a movement where self-care, joy, honest critique, intersectionality, and humanly flaws, disagreements, and nuance cannot exist or have to be hidden to the individual detriment of activists. I cannot imagine a freedom built on intraracial lies and performance for the White Gaze. The space to be human means the right to occupy and engage in public space, at times. This doesn’t mean that “everything” is someone else’s business, but it certainly does not mean things that occur in public must be immediately silenced to look like good little Negroes. Mantras such as “don’t air your dirty laundry,” and “don’t let them see you sweat,” almost never work to the advantage of oppressed people. As for Black people who experience oppression not just via race/class but also via gender, sexual orientation, disability and more, the risk of having to perform “for the race” means the risk of silencing and abuse intraracially. Performing what the most violent immoral oppressors–at that–think is “humanity” so I "look good” in public is not freedom. It’s not even strategy. When State and White violence is predicated upon our existences and not even our behavior–to the point that the State/media/public response is completely different based on the same behaviors between White and Black people, something that I discuss when I discuss post-mortem media violence–then performing for the White Gaze becomes not a strategy but a show; one that is never graced with applause at the end. In fact, when Black people are rewarded for respectability and shaming Black humanity, the reward requires they up the ante each time; they have to literally step on Black humanity, not embrace it with nuance. The politics of respectability and silencing will not save us

Too often, some fellow Black people feel that other Black people who reject such a performance of “unity” are being “divisive.” In a collection of tweets of mine from last year, “Divide and Conquer,” I explained how Black women who critique intraracial issues among Black male activists, or speak out on intraracial gender violence itself, as an issue worth discussion itself, or on its connection to State violence are called “divisive.” Black trans women face high amounts of violence. They’re not “divisive” by speaking of Blackness and gender as women and gender as trans. Disabled Black people face high amounts of violence. They’re not “divisive” by speaking of Blackness and ableism. Queer Black people do a huge portion of protesting and organizing. They’re not “divisive” by speaking of Blackness and queerness; they’re at risk of violence as well. Black women don’t just worry about becoming Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Marlene Pinnock, or Daniel Holtzclaw’s targets, but also having the same risks that Mary Spears did. Saying this is not being divisive. It is lived reality that should not have to be erased to protect cisgender, able-bodied, heterosexual and male privilege. This is not the same as some morally/intellectually bankrupt Whites yelling out “what about ‘Black on Black’ crime?” since their framing is derailment, racist, anti-Black, out of context, false equalization, a misnomer, and not their lived experience. Their investment is in our silencing, not our survival. They do not care. They are not us.

These things–disagreements and/or intersecting oppressions–should not have to be hidden because “what will White people think!” I don’t care what they think. They benefit from White privilege because of White supremacy. Their concept of their very own humanity relies on anti-Blackness. They rationalize the use, abuse, and exploitation of our bodies. They use the fact that we experience the same intraracial problems as other races as a good reason for the State to kill us with impunity. These things should not have to be hidden because “what about unity!” Unity is not centering cishet Black men and performing like good little Negroes for the White Gaze or the State when they kill us regardless. Regardless of whether or not every Black activist is the best of pals with another, it is statistically guaranteed that another Black person will be killed by the State, with impunity, by tomorrow. Tomorrow. I didn’t put a date because it really does not matter when you read this. The answer will still most likely be tomorrow. Even if every single Black activist is someone that is hated or “bad” person, the State still needs to stop executing Black people. Stop running to every Black person who disagrees with another Black person with the suggestion that they play nice since Whites are watching. They’re always watching. Always consuming. Always harming. Always blaming. No performance by us will ever be enough because of anti-Blackness. I am interested in partnerships not demagoguery-styled leaderships; in the grassroots, not the hierarchical; in self-evaluation, not self-aggrandizement; in honest critique, not hero/villain binaries; in accountability, not character assassinations; in callouts, not takedowns; in centering Black humanity, not in centering the White Gaze.