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Over the last year, Black Americans have raised awareness from coast- to-coast, reminding everyone that our lives and votes matter. Black health matters, too.
Black Health Matters and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. partnered to convene the nation’s largest Black health forum and the entire community is invited to register for free to hear from nationally acclaimed experts on chronic disease, mental health, fitness, wellness and more. If enough people attend the virtual event on Tuesday, July 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, it will become the biggest health event in the country and the biggest Black health event in the world.
“As an organization of Black men, we realized a long time ago that we are having some very critical health issues, for various reasons,” Grand Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Reuben Shelton said.
Organizers launch virtual, free health awareness event
“Some of the reasons are of our own doing because we just don’t take care of ourselves the way we should- we don’t go to the doctor the way we should, we don’t eat the way we should. But a lot of it is kind of institutional. A lot of it is because of racism and our system as a whole. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. You know racism keeps you from getting a job, so you can’t increase your socioeconomic status. Because of your socioeconomic status, you don’t get the kind of health care that a lot of other demographic groups get.” Shelton added.
Black Health Matters (BHM) and Kappa will collaborate to present their inaugural Black Health Summit at Kappa’s 85th Grand Chapter Meeting, known as their Konclave. Nationally-acclaimed speakers include CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Gospel Singer Smokie Norful and American Civil Rights Activist Al Sharpton. There will be more than 14 presentations given by 23 experts. Attendees may receive up to $8,000 worth of health advice in one day for free.
“When you look at the stats for African American men you will find that they’ve got higher rates of heart disease, kidney disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, a managed chronic disease,” BHM President Roslyn Daniels said. “And so I understood that there really was an issue and no one was really speaking to that except Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.”
Addressing the social determinants of health
For nearly a decade, BHM has worked with a wide range of partners to raise awareness around chronic disease, mental and physical health and fitness and wellness in the Black community. In 2021, BHM announced a new partnership with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Kappa) to collaborate and bring important health information directly to the communities served by both organizations.
“We started reaching out to them two years ago to pilot our first program which was on prostate cancer, and it was all about education, and it was also about talking about the social determinants of health, which kind of prevent our men from stepping forward,” Daniels said.
“It’s the situation and the environmental racism that impacts our men and all of us as to why we’re not getting the same level of care, while we’re not getting quality air, fruits and vegetables. there’s certain situational things that make it that much more difficult for Black folks in this country to be healthy, so we wanted to channel that through an internationally respected organization with great tentacles in the community, compassion, and passion for service,” Daniels said.
BHM formed a steering committee with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated to plan the summit. The virtual health summit will open with Dr. Michelle Valenti of the Center for Disease Control and she’s going to share about why it’s so important that organizations like Kappa Phi Fraternity, Inc. take the banner to promote health and wellness.
“I don’t want to make it sound morbid but they’re mentoring and touching men kind of from the cradle to the grave,” Daniels said. “They have Veteran Affairs, they have a senior capital organization, they have a young men’s mentorship organization. So, with that amount of reach within the African American community, we were really able to create a very family focused agenda.”
They will have speakers like Lieutenant Karol Nazario, the young army officer and Kappa who was pepper sprayed at a gas station while wearing uniform late last year. He’s going to talk about courage under fire, and the fact that his clarity and thoughtfulness kept him alive in the presence of danger. They’ll also have a conversation with Rev. Al Sharpton, talking about how a lack of Black male doctors is going to be detrimental to the health of Black men as Black doctors can better empathize with cultural issues.
“There’s so much richness in the curriculum that the steering committee created for the summit,” Daniels said.
Invited speakers and topics for the virtual health summit include:
- Children ADHD and barriers to learning during COVID: Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp
- Breast cancer: Dr. Lannis Hall
- Clinical trials: Dr. David Hong and Dr. Dan Fagbuyi
- Dementia/Healthy Brain: AARP Domestic abuse: Dr. Bernadine Waller
- Fitness: Cliff Boyce
- Fibroids: Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis
- Health Equity: Dr. Rochelle Walensky
- Kidney Disease: Kevin Mott
- Mental health: Dr. Stephen A. Broughton
- Multiple Myeloma: Dr. Brandon Blue and Bishop Horace Smith
- Prostate cancer: Dr. Anthony Barnes
- Sexual Health: Dr. Paul Gittens
- Sickle Cell Disease: Mapillar Dahn and Beverley Francis-Gibson
Changing the trajectory of health for Black men
“It was just a no brainer that this was an issue that we had to attack, and to educate our brothers to get the kind of help that they need to have the kind of awareness that they need to make sure that they stick around for their kids and grandkids and wives and not just their families,” Shelton said. “We started this a long time ago for those very reasons, and we’re going to continue this as long as we possibly can, forever.”
Kappa Alpha Psi ® Fraternity, Inc., is a historically African American Greek-letter organization. Since the fraternity’s founding on January 5, 1911, at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, the fraternity has never restricted membership on the basis of color, creed or national origin. The fraternity has over 170,000 initiated members with 629 active undergraduate and alumni chapters across the United States and international chapters in Germany, South Korea, Japan, US Virgin Island, Nigeria, South Africa, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Dominican Republic Alumni Association. The International Headquarters is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Black Health Matters (BHM) was launched in 2012 to become a resource for the thousands of African Americans that would have immediate opportunities for care and screenings due to the ACA. Since 2012, Black Health Matters’ mission has been to improve health literacy and assist in building capacity for fraternities, sororities, faith-based and civic organizations to better engage and support patients, caregivers and advocates.
To register, visit https://bhmkappahealthsummit.vfairs.com