BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Joe Madison, a civil rights and human rights activist who hosts a talk sow on Sirius XM Radio, was very open about his health-related issues during his recent visit to Daytona Beach.
“I am a walking example. A few years ago, I weighed about 300 pounds. Now I weigh 178. I’ve battled prostate cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Today, I don’t have any of these issues.
I don’t take any medications,” Madison told the Daytona Times on April 23.
Madison was the keynote speaker at the at the Men’s Health Summit, which took place last Saturday at the Bethune-Cookman University’s Center for Civic Engagement.
Bethune-Cookman, Halifax Health, Halifax Health Hospice and the Vince Carter Embassy of Hope sponsored the event to address health issues among Black men in the community.
“It was fabulous to have this event. It’s a pleasure to see so many adults and adolescents come out to improve their health and the health of the families. Many entities around town are coming together to work on improving health,” commented Dr. Deanna Wathington, executive dean and professor of health science at B-CU.
The summit was designed to address the health issues that affect Black men, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels, diet, weight and body mass index, cancer, and prostate cancer.
First health summit
The event was the first of its kind, organizers say. Unlike health fairs that normally pass out information and give free health screenings, this event added much more.
The summit consisted of breakout sessions with guest speakers who spoke about several health-related issues. The event even included a healthy lunch.
Racism hurts health
Madison also noted how racism impacts health.
“Racism affects health both physical and mental. It also leads to stress. Stress is also one of the biggest factors on health,” he said.
The host of the radio show “Joe Madison: The Black Eagle’’ discussed how racism is still prevalent.
Madison explained, “Racism still does exist. It’s more sophisticated. We have gone from Jim Crow to James Crow, Esquire. You can see it in the current presidential election with some of the code words being used by candidates and the White supremacist groups endorsing such candidates. We see it with police brutality, the prison industrial complex, in employment and education. Our people are still being undervalued, underestimated and marginalized.”
The summit also focused on health issues for Black men and localized it for the 32114 zip code, which is in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.
“It is critical that Black males in this community get serious about their health. The death rate for them with chronic diseases is higher than any other demographic group. This includes whether it’s men or women, whether Black, White, Latino etc.,” said Dr. Thomas Bryant III, director of Informatics and Assessment at Halifax Health.
Added Wathington, “Issues in this community are not different from others. We have the higher diabetes, heart disease, cancer and violence rates. We lose people to all of this.’’
Why these certain health issues are hurting and killing Black men more are difficult questions to answer.
“If I knew the answer to why we face these health issues at a higher rate, I wouldn’t be here. I would be on TV advertising it or something. Many things contribute and we talk about it here today with economics, community, demographics and more,” Bryant related.
Putting it off
It is up to people individually to address their health, the health experts pointed out.
“It is important that our African-American men look after their health. It’s a very personal and important decision. They need to get involved in two ways to get involved in public policy and personal responsibility,” Madison noted.
“Black men, we tend to put off going to the doctor. We use all types of excuses from having no time or no money. We take care of our cars better than our bodies,” Madison added.
‘Make healthy choices’
The health care officials agree that diet and exercise are keys to good health.
“You must make healthy choices. Improve your diet and step away from the refined sugars, alcohol, tobacco. Eat more fruits and vegetables and get more exercise,” Bryant explained.
Added Madison, “I was obese. Obesity triggers other health issues. Diet and exercise are important to dealing with weight.’’