Greatness in Small Packages: Claudette Colvin

By Senequa Malone | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo Credits: Claudette Colvin, aged 13, in 1953. Public Domain; Back of the bus. Photograph by Stan Wayman

We’ve heard sayings like, “From of the mouths of babes” or references is in revered text “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). These expressions signify that children are often capable of saying or doing wise, insightful, or mature things. These words or actions can be what is needed to start a movement. This was especially true during the perilous times of the early Civil Rights Movement when many children marched, were beaten, chased by dogs, and sent to jail. The children advocated for change…change in unjust laws and change toward justice all over the country, especially for African Americans living under Jim Crow laws in the South.

One such child was Claudette Colvin. As an eager young teen, she was inspired to make an immediate change one day after school. That day in class, at the segregated Booker T. Washington school in Montgomery, Claudette and her classmates discussed injustices experienced under Jim Crow laws. This bothered Claudette and she knew she had to stand for justice for herself and others. So, she decided that she would conduct her own sit-in. As she later recalled, “All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily.” Claudette knew she paid her bus fees just like everyone else and deserved to ride without any trouble. She was a member of the NAACP Youth Council and knew her constitutional rights. She went on to elaborate that it felt as if Harriet Tubman was pushing her down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth on the other.

We always want to teach our children and even communities to do what is right; having them see and experience it for themselves even if they must stand for someone else that’s being oppressed or mistreated. On March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin became the first person arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person.  The first person to make the news for sitting down.

Colvin’s name was all over the local radio and newspaper print. A young black girl was arrested for being a troublemaker; not giving up her seat for a white person. This disturbed the black community greatly and many leaders quickly acted to get this young lady out of jail and home safely to her family, but they were also inspired. Claudette Colvin’s approach and boldness was ingenious. This young lady sparked the talk for a new boycott.

Local leaders in the Civils Rights Movement recognized the great potential in a non-violent approach had for putting their cause in the national spotlight but did not want to put that pressure upon a child. They knew the media would try anything to demonize her character, use all stereotypes or misjudgments against her and in turn the cause. Claudette was a dark-skinned, unemployed student. Later, she became pregnant and as an unwed expectant mother, the scrutiny of national attention would be intense. Leaders did not want that amount of hate and ignorance directed towards a child. So, they patiently waited and nine months later set in motion their plan with the perfect candidate for their strategy: Rosa Parks, a secretary for the local NAACP chapter. She was a married, employed, light-skinned, mature woman with good hair and the fiery spirit to stand up to national scrutiny. She grabbed the torch of “fight” lit by Claudette Colvin and brought attention to injustice. It was the perfect recipe for success.

While certain names are more recognizable than others, it is the impact and not the recognition that matters. Claudette Colvin’s fearless action is as unmatched and commendable as other greats during these turbulent times. One person’s stance for right can be the catalyst for positive change for so many lives and future generations. The movement would never have been the success it was without the children’s contribution and sacrifice. Colvin’s immediate act for justice and clever plan worked to set the stage for the bus boycotts and later, the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. A young teenage child wanted to see change in the world, and she not only succeeded but blazed a trail for many following behind her. Maybe without Claudette Colvin, we would not know of Rosa Parks’ bravery or Dr. King’s leadership and remarkable speeches. Colvin later became one of the plaintiffs for Browder v Gayle, a federal case which led to the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses. Thusly, her example of non-violent demonstration and advocacy led to victory in the U.S. District Court and integrated busing in December 1956.

As professionals in community health and human services, we stand on the shoulders of many advocates who championed the social well-being of the people adversely impacted by Jim Crow laws. Those shoulders can be adult shoulders or teenage shoulders like Claudette Colvin. Let’s encourage our youth and our young at heart to stand for justice, to champion the well-being of others, and be ready to change the world! Greatness is out there. It is not the size that matters, but the power of the impact!


Sources:

Adler, M., & Hoose, P. (2009, March 15). Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. NPR. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2009/03/15/101719889/before-rosa-parks-there-was-claudette-colvin

National Civil Rights Museum. Lorraine Motel. (n.d) Justice.  Retrieved from https://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/justice. Accessed 18 Jan. 2022

Photo: Claudette Colvin, aged 13, in 1953. Public Domain

Photo: Back of the bus. Photograph by Stan Wayman

Theoharis, J. (2019, February 2). Claudette Colvin. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://rosaparksbiography.org/bio/claudette-colvin/


Breast Cancer Awareness

by Senequa Malone, Jaelyn Copeland, and Shon Mack, with contributions from Shayna Bryan | Interns and UAB Community Health and Human Services students

Graphic by Jaelyn Copeland

(This article is based on a discussion from WWL’s Monday Night Wellness Watch. [Link to the livestream recording coming soon!])


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers out there. According to the CDC, it is the second most common cancer in women (after some skin cancers) and the second leading cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer). About 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with some kind of breast cancer in her lifetime. No one is exempt from a breast cancer diagnoses. It affects men and women, old and young.

Today we’re going to learn about what breast cancer is, what the risk factors are, how you can reduce your risk, and how it affects Women of Color in our community.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. There are many different types of breast cancer, these depend on where in the breast the cancer cells are located. The breast is made up of 3 parts:

  • Lobules (glands that produce milk)
  • Ducts (connect glands to nipple)
  • Connective tissue (fat that surround the breast and makes up a large part of the volume)

Most breast cancers begin in the lobules or ducts. When the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized.

How common is Breast Cancer? What about dying from Breast Cancer?

Every person has breast tissue, so everyone one is capable of developing breast cancer. It is most common in women, but men can develop it too. The lifetime risk is of getting breast cancer for a woman is 13% and the risk of dying from breast cancer is 2.6%. The 5-year survival rate post diagnosis is 90%. The number of new cases of breast cancer is going slightly up (0.5% per year), but death is going down (1% per year). This is likely due to early detection and better screening. Men are 100 times less likely to develop breast cancer, but that number is not zero. While rare, men are diagnosed and die from breast cancer every year

What are the risk factors for Breast Cancer?

  • Being born a woman
  • Being older
  • Obesity
  • Family history
    • 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with it
  • Early menstruation (starting before age 12)
  • Late menopause (starting after age 55)
  • Having dense breast tissue

What are dense breasts?

Breast density is a term that describes the relative amount of different types of breast tissue (glandular, connective, and fat tissue) as seen on a mammogram. Dense breasts have relatively high amounts of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue and relatively low amounts of fatty breast tissue.

Only a mammogram can show if a woman has dense breasts. Dense breast tissue cannot be felt in a clinical breast exam or in a breast self-exam. Nearly half of all women age 40 and older who get mammograms are found to have dense breasts.

Whether your breasts are dense is often due to genetics, but other factors can influence it. Factors associated with lower breast density include increasing age, having children. Factors associated with higher breast density include having a high body-mass index and using postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.

Is there any way to reduce our risk of Breast Cancer?

Factors we can change include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be regularly physically active
    • 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity per week (or about 20-30 minutes a day)
  • Eat a healthy diet
    • Vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fat
  • Perform monthly breast self-exams
    • 40% of diagnosed breast cancers were detected by women who feel a lump
    • Start at age 20 to become familiar with your “normal”
    • Monitor regularly for changes
  • Consume alcohol moderately, or not at all
    • Women who have 2-3 drinks a day have 20% higher risk than non-drinkers
  • If you have children, breastfeed if you are able

What about Breast Cancer risk among African American women?

African American women have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate – the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group. While the reasons behind this disparity are numerous and complicated, the issue is real and there are at least some solutions everyone agrees on: more screening, more self-exams, and more access to treatment for African American women.

New Cases of Breast Cancer per 100,000 People

AreaAll GroupsAfrican American
Women
National121.4124.3
Alabama128.8126.1
Jefferson County130.5128.7
Data pulled from statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/

Deaths due to Breast Cancer per 100,000 People

AreaAll GroupsAfrican American
Women
National19.927.1
Alabama21.427.5
Jefferson County25.628.4
Data pulled from statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/

How do I perform a Breast Self-Exam?

Set a schedule and do it regularly. A good time to start is 3-5 days after your period it ends, then continue to perform a BSE every month.

  1. Remove your clothing and take a good look at yourself in the mirror. If you’re never done something like this before, it can feel a little silly and embarrassing at first, but it’s very important to become familiar with your own body and what is normal for you, so you can detect changes.
    • Breasts come in all shapes and sizes (many women have one breast larger than the other), so once you know what is normal for you, when you perform these exams you’re going to be looking for anything that stands out as different or unusual
  2. Look for any distortion of the shape, dimpling, puckering, or odd bulging.
    • How’s the color? Are there any areas of redness, a rash, or parts that look swollen? Is the nipple in its normal positions or has that changed, is it inverted? Is there any discharged? It could look “watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood”.
  3. Raise your arms, and look for the same things. Does this position aggravate any soreness or pain in your breasts?
  4. Next lie down flat on your back and place one arm behind your head.  With the other hand, use the pad of your fingers to press firmly around your breast tissue. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
    • Use a pattern to make sure you cover your entire breast. Two common patterns are to start in the center and make your way outwards in circles, another is to go top to bottom across the breast like you’re mowing the lawn.
  5. If you do feel a lump, don’t worry, stay calm, and make an appointment with your regular physician.
    • Most lumps are benign (non-cancerous). There are many benign breast conditions that can cause lumps that resolve on their own.

What about Mammograms?

            A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

  • Women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so, particularly if they have family history of breast cancer
  • Women ages 45-54 should get mammograms every year
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer. All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening.


Sources and References:

African American women and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). (2021, July 22). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.bcpp.org/resource/african-american-women-and-breast-cancer/.

Breast cancer information and support. Breastcancer.org. (2021, October 27). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.breastcancer.org/.

Breast cancer statistics. Susan G. Komen®. (2021, October 6). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.komen.org/breast-cancer/facts-statistics/breast-cancer-statistics/.

Breast cancer: Breast cancer information & overview. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 20). Breast cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). USCS data visualizations – CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/.

Dense breasts: Answers to commonly asked questions. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-changes/dense-breasts.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 14). Swollen lymph nodes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/swollen-lymph-nodes/symptoms-causes/syc-20353902.

Moore, J. X., Han, Y., Appleton, C., Colditz, G., & Toriola, A. T. (2020). Determinants of mammographic breast density by race among a large screening population. JNCI Cancer Spectrum. https://doi.org/10.1093/jncics/pkaa010

Price, D. (2021, October 7). Black women and the breast cancer disparity explained. The Birmingham Times. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.birminghamtimes.com/2021/10/black-women-and-the-breast-cancer-disparity-explained/.

State Cancer Profiles. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/.


A Body Image Testament

By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Alumni

Lizzo performs during The BRIT Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on February 18, 2020 in London, England
Photograph by Samir Hussein/WireImage

“No matter how much positive energy you put into the world, you’re still gonna have people who have something mean to say about you.”

– Melissa Viviane Jefferson (Lizzo), Grammy Award Winning American Singer

What is Body Image?

The way people perceive and feel their physical selves is called body image. Men, women, and all peoples have concerns about their body image. Their weight, the shape or size of a body part, skin, or hair is often zeroed in, bashed, and picked apart. The fashion industry is a major contributor to widespread unhealthy body image through the careful selection of underweight models to display their products, but our peers, the media, and even family members all influence body image. This often promotes destructive feelings of inadequacy.

Body Acceptance Journey

Melissa Viviane Jefferson – known professionally as Lizzo – is an American music artist celebrated for her vocals, savvy personality, and positive body image. She attacks the world with explosive performances and lyrics. The singer shows the world how much she adores herself through outspoken music- inspiring others to accept, love, and protect their own bodies.

Following the release of her new single and a step back into the public limelight, Lizzo had an Instagram honest moment that addressed negative body image comments.

“On the days I feel I should be the happiest, I feel so down,” Lizzo told fans while sitting in her bathroom wearing a wig cap dabbing her eyes. “Like, I hurt so hard.” The Grammy winner revealed she feels unappreciated for working “quadruple” the time. “Sometimes I feel like the world just don’t love me back,” she sobbed.

Positive and Negative Body Image

Everyone struggles with body image. Having a positive body image is understanding that the value of self-worth is not dependent on appearance. It is a positive energy accepting and appreciating a stable body appearance. If a person is satisfied with their image, they flaunt it – unapologetically.

And for the most part it doesn’t hurt my feelings; I don’t care!

Lizzo

Unsatisfaction with one’s appearance is called negative body image. People may compare themselves with others, feel ashamed about parts of their bodies, lack confidence, or feeling uncomfortable in their own body.

Improving Body Image

Learning to love your body is a journey. A balanced lifestyle that incorporates healthier attitudes, food, exercises, and practices is easier when you are in tune with and respond to the needs of your body.

These tips can help a person feel more positive about their body.

  • List 10 things you like about yourself
  • Practice positive self-talk. Say, “My arms are strong” or “I am beautiful.”
  • Do something nice for your body
  • Aim for a healthful lifestyle and eat a nutritious diet
  • Wear comfortable clothes that look good on you
  • Avoid comparing yourself with other people.
  • Be actively critical of media messages and images that make you feel inadequate.
  • See yourself as a whole person, and an imperfect body part.
  • Start a hobby or blog

I don’t have time for your negativity – your internalized self-hatred that you project onto me with your racism and fatphobia. I don’t have time for it. Anyways, I’m going to continue to be me. I’m going to continue to be a bad b—-.

Lizzo

You can listen to a podcast episode from Flora “Coach Flo” Johnson discussing body image here: Pillow Talk – Body Image Entanglement.

If you or someone you may know is experiencing body image or eating concerns, seek immediate help. Speak with a doctor, dependable friend, therapist, or parent about your situation.


Use this image to share the positive messaging on social media!

Sources:

Brazier, Y., & Marney, W. A. (2020, October 11). Body image: What is it, and how can I improve it? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249190.

Hussein, S. (2021, February 18). Photograph of Lizzo. WireImage.

National Eating Disorders Collaboration. (2021 March). Body Image [Fact Sheet]. Australian Government Department of Health. https://nedc.com.au/assets/Fact-Sheets/NEDC-Fact-Sheet-Body-Image.pdf.

Yang, R. (2021, August 15). Lizzo tearfully slams ‘fatphobic,’ ‘racist’ haters as cardi B and more celebs Offer Support. EW.com. https://ew.com/music/lizzo-cardi-b-haters-fatphobic-racist/.


Simone Biles

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Original Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP

Simone Biles is an American gymnast with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is widely regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of our generation. Biles was the favorite to win multiple individual and team events in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but shocked the public when it was announced on July 27th that she would be pulling out of the final team competition for undisclosed health reasons. The following day, she pulled out of the rest of her planned events and gave further explanation: She’d been struggling with the immense pressure that comes with her position and could not compete due to physical and mental health issues. With Biles out of the competition, America’s chances of sweeping the gold for Olympic gymnastics all but vanished. This announcement was met with reactions of anger, outrage, betrayal, sympathy, and support. Why the mixed response?

If Biles had broken a bone or torn a ligament that rendered her unable to compete, the American public may have universally replied with kindness and empathy, viewing it as a tragedy. But because Biles’ reasons were partially mental, the feedback was not at all kind. Why such anger? The answer lies in our complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with mental health.

The World Health Organization describes mental health as “the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of individuals.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness, but less than half of those will receive treatment. This is likely due to the great stigma associated with mental health treatment and the common perception that seeking help is a last resort. As a result, the average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.

This is not at all how we treat physical issues, where prevention and prompt treatment are the norm. There is pressure to keep issues related to mental health invisible. Tough it out. This is especially a common thought among the athletic community.

The whole situation reminded me of a conversation I had about a month ago with Susan Chambers, a friend of mine who competes nationally in powerlifting. She was struggling with her own stubbornness in knowing when to quit and call it a day. When she’s tired and can’t focus, she’s at risk for serious injury which has happened to her in the past. On this day, she asked herself aloud, “Are you actually worried that will happen or are you being lazy and looking for an excuse? What’s the line between self-destructive and dedicated?”

I responded: “Guilt and shame.” If you’re pushing yourself because you feel inspired, all is good, but if guilt, shame, or fear of failure is motivating you, that’s bad. That’s when you risk seriously hurting yourself, mentally and physically.

Sue was silent for a moment, then said, “You win this round of self-care.”


Simone Biles is a gifted athlete who inspires many and will for years to come. She has the grit and determination to become a champion and the deep maturity to know herself and her limits. No matter the full circumstances, Simon Biles does not owe us further details or explanations. She does not need to justify her decision or apologize for the disappointment it caused, because she owes us nothing. She may be our pride and joy, but she belongs only to herself.

I reached out to Sue again for her thoughts on Simone Biles and the public response. She had this to say:

“Knowing your limits and prioritizing your health and well-being is laudable. Simone Biles is a world class athlete under an incomprehensible amount of scrutiny from the public. For her to advocate for herself and her needs was extraordinarily brave. We need more role models like her, who will demonstrate self-compassion as something more valuable than competition. I guess the short form is: She is a champion, and championing her own well-being proves it.”


Similar articles from the Lab:

Take Care of Yourself! by Adrienne Stokes

Serena Williams by Jaelyn Copeland


Sources and Further Reading:

Chambers, S. (2021, June 29). Personal communication [online chat].

Chambers, S. (2021, July 29). Personal communication [online chat].

Choudhry, F. R., Mani, V., Ming, L. C., & Khan, T. M. (2016). Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: a meta-synthesis. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment12, 2807–2818. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S111543

Mental health by the numbers. NAMI. (n.d.). https://nami.org/mhstats.

Ramsay, G., & Sinnott, J. (2021, July 27). Simone Biles withdraws from women’s team gymnastics at Tokyo 2020 Olympics as ROC Wins gold. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/27/sport/simone-biles-tokyo-2020-olympics/index.html.

Riedel, C. (10 August 2019). Photograph of Simone Biles at US Championships. Associated Press.

@USAGym. “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.” Twitter, 28 Jul. 2021, 1:14 a.m., twitter.com/USAGym/status/1420266286441922562

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/health-topics/mental-health.

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental health: Strengthening our response. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.


REDUCING DISTRESSING PREGNANCIES AMONG BLACK WOMEN: TAKE ACTION

By Jaelyn Copeland (Community Health and Human Services Student), with contributions from Shayna Bryan (Intern & Community Health and Human Services Student)

Original photography by Mario Testino for Vogue magazine

Maternal mortality rates in the United States have been increasing steadily year after year, placing the country 56th on the World Health Organization’s worldwide data set, which is near the bottom of the developed nations. This disproportionately affects black women, who face not only the typical health hazards that come with childbirth, but must also wrestle with racial bias in the medical industry

Did you know black women are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy-linked causes than their peers?

According to the CDC, for every 100,000 births, 37 black women died in comparison to 15 white women and 12 Hispanic women. The causes of these racial differences are numerous. One of the issues is a lack of access to health care and poor quality of service. However, CDC data shows that even college-educated black women die at higher rates from pregnancy-related causes than white women who did not graduate from high school.

Look no further than Serena Williams, one of the greatest professional tennis players in history and an overall acclaimed athlete with a net worth over $200 million, whose pregnancy story demonstrates that these issues penetrate every level of society. In an interview with Vogue, Williams recalls battling with major problems shortly after the birth of her daughter. After her daughter was born through Cesarean section, Williams became short of breath. Knowing her own history of blood clots in the lungs (called pulmonary embolisms), she instantly alerted a nurse to her symptoms. However, staff were slow to respond to her concerns. The resulting complications ended in Williams needing a filter inserted into one of her major veins. It took six weeks of bed rest before she eventually returned home.

Serena’s traumatic story places her among the 50,000 women in America who face dangerous or life-threatening pregnancy-related problems each year.

However, researchers suggest this estimate may still be too conservative. Racial bias in the medical industry is a systemic issue that is becoming more recognized. The CDC has launched the Hear Her campaign to spread awareness and education on the complications associated with pregnancy. The lesson for the medical industry is to listen to patients more and make sure their needs are addressed. For the rest of us, the lesson is to learn to be your own best advocate.


Here are steps you can take:

  • Enroll in pre-natal care early, 1 month before pregnancy if possible
  • Take pre-natal vitamins as early as possible, even before becoming pregnant
    • Vitamins like folate are essential to brain and spinal cord development which occurs during the first few weeks of pregnancy
  • Learn the warning signs of common complications, particularly those you are at high risk for and those in your family medical history
  • Make stress management a priority
  • Speak up!
    • Create a list of questions to ask your doctor, make your concerns heard!
    • Keep a written record to help you and your doctor stay on track and accountable during appointments

PSA developed by Brittany Reynolds, Shayna Bryan, and Larrell Wilkinson

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, November 25). Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternal-mortality/pregnancy-mortality-surveillance-system.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 24). About the Campaign. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hearher/about-the-campaign/index.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 11). Urgent Maternal Warning Signs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hearher/maternal-warning-signs/index.html.

Fernandez, M. E. (2021, February 10). Why Black women are less likely to survive pregnancy, and what’s being done about it. http://www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/02/10/why-black-women-are-less-likely-to-survive-pregnancy-and-whats-being-done-about-it.

Haskell, R. (2018, January 10). Serena Williams on Motherhood, Marriage, and Making Her Comeback. Vogue. https://www.vogue.com/article/serena-williams-vogue-cover-interview-february-2018.

Lockhart, P. R. (2018, January 11). What Serena Williams’s scary childbirth story says about medical treatment of black women. Vox. http://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/11/16879984/serena-williams-childbirth-scare-black-women.

Testino, M. (September 2017). Photograph of Serena Williams. Vogue.

WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and United Nations Population Division Trends in Maternal Mortality: 2000 to 2017 Geneva: World Health Organization, 2019. Retrieved from: https://data.worldbank.


DOING SELF-CARE & BEING WELL: JOIN CONVERSATIONS WITH KHALIA EVERY FOUTH MONDAY

By: Flora Johnson, Intern

FLYER FROM EAST LAKE LIBRARY OF THE BIRMINGHAM PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM

“What is missing is fun. We need to unplug and do something fun! It may sound cheesy, but having fun is self-care.” – Khalia Wilkinson

Are you ready to live well, be healthy, and walk into abundant life?  Conversations with Khalia is a platform designed for women to speak freely about matters of life. Conversations with Khalia is a virtual talk on women’s wellness hosted through the East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Library every fourth Monday of the month. Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson is a coach and minister working with women looking to ditch feeling stressed, overwhelmed, drained, and desiring to be accomplished, healthy, and thriving.  On April 26, 2021, she will host an online conversation at 12:15PM CST. You can register here (https://tinyurl.com/Online-Conversations) or call (205) 836-3341 to attend.

Khalia Wilkinson is a counselor and wellness coach with 15 years of experience mentoring and training women. She has written The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide to uplift women experiencing wellness withdrawals due to the sudden shifts in their schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide discusses in-depth how to navigate the required activities of daily living in this new unforeseen space while managing isolation, mental wellness, schedules, and self-care. She also hosts the Woman31 Podcast, a podcast rooted in biblical principles found in Proverbs, Chapter 31 with an accompanying website: Woman31.

Khalia believes that a woman’s health and well-being is foundational to ensuring all other scheduled family activities are successfully completed. The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide embraces concepts of self-care in support of one’s overall health and wellness.  The guide offers easy-to-perform tasks that can help individuals better manage their well-being.

Self-care is typically visualized as a spa day. However, Khalia suggests that adequate sleep, eating a healthy and satisfying meal, praying, laughing at a good movie, and/or speaking with a trusted and supportive friend are all excellent modes of self-care. Understanding where you are and what health areas you need to focus on is pivotal to living well.

Khalia says that mental health is vital to overall wellness. She suggested that seeking professional counseling is absolutely a “good thing” to do, especially when one is experiencing serious mental illness. She also mentioned that feeling negative emotions is a signal to our body that something is not “okay.” Thus, it is important to listen to our body and seek help. When asked if there was any wellness advice she could offer, she said, “Do something fun and find ways to get back to the activities we love, because it can be healthy for our bodies.” You can always connect with Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson on Instagram, @khalia.woman31.


WOMEN, BE SMART ABOUT YOUR HEART!

By Shayna Bryan (UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern) and Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Every February since 1964, Americans have celebrated American Heart Month! Why? According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death among American adults and most ethnic/racial groups. Heart disease the body’s circulatory system, i.e. your veins and arteries. There are several forms of heart disease, but some of the most common include heart attack and coronary artery disease. According to the American Heart Association , a heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is interrupted, thus the oxygen supply to the heart muscle is reduced or completely cut off. This is important because the CDC estimates that 805,000 heart attacks occur annually in the United States.

Among Americans, non-Hispanic Black (African Americans) are at great risk for heart disease. The American Heart Association reports that about half of African-American women over the age of 20 have some form of heart disease, yet only about 1 out of 3 know their heart health risk. Around 50,000 African-American women die from cardiovascular disease annually. But we can prevent the deaths and reduce the number of our families impacted by heart disease. Here is what we can do:

Step 1: Learn your risk for heart disease.

Visit your doctor and ask for diagnostic tests for coronary heart disease. If you don’t have a personal physician or access to health care, contact Jefferson County Department of Health or your local county health department for assistance.

In general, any individual who has been diagnosed with any of these conditions is at risk for heart disease:

• Overweight or obesity
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Physical inactivity
• Family history (first degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has had a heart attack or stroke before age 50)

Step 2: Work to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Photo by Laura James on Pexels.com

Eat healthy
Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Five servings a day is the recommended minimum, so aim even higher by making vegetables half of your meal. Lower your sodium intake by eating more home cooked meals, instead of fast food. Drink water, not soda or juice which is high in added sugars.

Be active
Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week. That’s only around 20 minutes a day. You can make walking part of your routine. Try going for a walk and talking to a friend on the phone. Any activity that elevates your heart rate will improve your health and help lower your risk.

Manage stress
Stress management is important for heart health. Eating healthy and staying active can help keep your stress levels down. Learn what triggers your stress and address it by slowing down and engaging in meditation or breathing exercises.

Step 3: Always look for the signs of a heart attack

According to the American Heart Association, women are somewhat less likely than men to experience chest pain. Instead, they are more likely to experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Pressure or tightness in the chest
  • Stomach pain

To learn more about heart disease in women, please click on the links above. Additional resources include the following links:

https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women/symptoms-of-a-heart-attack

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/african-americans-and-heart-disease-stroke

https://www.heart.org/-/media/phd-files-2/science-news/2/2021-heart-and-stroke-stat-update/2021_stat_update_factsheet_black_race_and_cvd.pdf?la=en

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health