02 Feb You live like a Rich White Girl
I recently had dinner with a male friend and was in really high spirits to share that I had just confirmed my travel arrangements to visit La Ceiba, Honduras to stay at Dr. Sebi’s Usha village. If you’re not familiar with it, the Usha village is a world renown-healing compound, and Dr. Sebi is a well knownherbologist/pathologist in alternative medicine circles.
While having dinner, I shared with my friend the purpose of my trip and how I was looking forward to completing a VERY THOROUGH full body cleanse.
He listened and then responded, “ You sure do take care of yourself. You live like a RICH WHITE GIRL!”
In that moment, hearing those last three words, I felt an instant sting. A myriad of questions started to flood my mind – ‘Was it a negative that I “took care” of myself? Why do I have to be compared to a RICH WHITE GIRL? So only RICH WHITE GIRLS “take care” of themselves? Was that supposed to be a compliment?’ My mind was racing. I dared not ask any of the questions out loud for fear that I would ruin the rest of our evening. I knew that I was offended, however I wanted to believe that he didn’t mean to insult me. So I went into a full explanation of why I was going, which was to heal myself of Irritable Bowel Syndrome through the full body cleanse.
My inner Self-Help Bad Ass was yelling “That is his damn problem! You don’t owe him an explanation! What the F@#K you mean! I need to go meditate!” But I could not help but reflect on other comparisons that have been made of white women and me over the years. My love of travel, taste for exotic foods, experimentation with vegan/vegetarianism and practicing yoga have all been compared to broader white culture by several of my African American counter parts.
What has intrigued me is that my choice to explore food, exercise and travel has always been rooted in my own journey of self-improvement, not trying to be “white”. I started changing my diet as a teen because I had horrible migraines and terrible Premenstrual Symptoms. It was a migraine specialist that helped me make the connection that my diet impacted my health. My love for travel grew from wanting to go to a historically black college and quite frankly there were none in my home state, Illinois. So on a bus, train or plane I was going! My yoga practice started because I was suffering from anxiety and adrenal fatigue. My Chiropractor suggested that I give up high impact aerobics and start yoga or Pilates.
But really, what is it about Black culture that we reference White culture as the benchmark for unfamiliar experiences or investment in self-love? Even further, it seems many African Americans view Caucasians as the only people worthy of actively working towards a healthy, vibrant and balanced life. Are we still using white people as our only source of comparison for a “rich” or good life? Granted, in many of my “out of the box” experiences to date, I may be the only African American present, or one of a few. But I refuse to think that my being there is an indicator of trying to be white or an attempt at abandoning my own culture.
I am so very concerned that the perceptions of many African Americans are that certain activities, foods, and health practices are synonymous with white culture and therefore are not for them. Prioritizing your health, trying different ethnic foods and engaging in diverse exercise options are not just for white people. This perception is something that we need to change.
I watched every one of my mother’s siblings and both of my maternal grandparents die from complications of Diabetes. End Stage Renal Disease, High Blood Pressure and Congestive Heart Failure are just a few complications of Diabetes. All of these diseases are preventable and treatable with life-style interventions. In other words, Watch what you eat! Move your body! And prioritize managing your stress!
With the recent passings of Malik “PhifeDawg” Taylor and Doug Banks from complications of Diabetes, African Americans must pay attention. We cannot afford to continue opting out of making lifestyle changes because they are unfamiliar.
I share this to encourage all who read this to consider stepping outside of your comfort zone because your life could depend on it! Taking care of you is not “living like a rich white girl” It is simply LIVING!
Here are 8 things you can do to start LIVING today.
- Take responsibility for you and your family’s health.
- Make an appointment for a physical with your primary care physician and commit to educating yourself on your health risk factors.
- Learn your family’s medical history.
- Get your family on board with adopting a healthier lifestyle.
- Try one activity that is proven to relieve stress and commit to incorporating it into your daily routine for at least 30 days.
- Commit to learning and starting a healthier diet and exercise routine for you.
- Get a lifestyle accountability partner.
- Try to make doing 1-7 as fun as possible!