this edition of Hood Health 101 delves into the diversity of the #HoodHealth movement

When one thinks of the hood, often images of the ghetto filled with African-Americans or Spanish speaking people from the Caribbean (Puerto Rican, Dominican, etc) comes to mind. HoodHealth, though, is inclusive of other communities of color in similar situations in the United States who are impacted by health disparity. This disparity is centered on race, income, class, location and the long term effects of white supremacy (colonization, slavery, genocide). So when we dig into HoodHealth, we are acknowledging the Mexican Community, the Native American Community and the Asian-American Community. All these various communities have similar and dissimilar issues surrounding them around health and wellness, yet they are all rooted in racial health disparity. Whites displaced them and now there is a system that doesn’t support them.

Speaking specifically about the Mexican and Native American communities, straight nutricide warfare took place. They were displaced from many of their traditional food sources. In the case of the Mexicans, for example, they were prevented from growing amaranth (one of their traditional grains) and many other foods by law when the Spanish came. Other foods that weren’t traditionally Mexican were added to the table (like that damn pig) that weren’t even a part of their original diet (yet now ironically are looked at as “traditional”). The hunting ground of many Native Nations were overrun with white settlers who kicked them off that land and then slaughtered (for sport rather than use) animals that they depended on such as buffalo and deer.

Ghettos in America often have a part of their history left out. Most ghettos were where poor white people who often built the infrastructures of cities lived. When mass migrations began, the white immigrants moved out while the Black and Brown moved in. In the layout of any city, this land was often of the worst quality and the buildings were often the same. We see a similar scenario play out with the Barrio and Rez (Reservation). Check out the location of many barrios in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. A lot of them are right next to some factory or dump. The reservations are literally on toxic land. Many of them are polluted with mercury (from old gold prospecting back in the day) or uranium. Yes, uranium. Health and Wellness is a struggle is the land you are on is literally sick.

Migrant workers at home and abroad are made a part of a dysfunctional food system (yes, that includes a lot of the gourmet health food) where they can’t even afford the food that they harvest as their job?! In some cases, this food (like chocolate and quinoa) is their main traditional staple that they can’t even eat any more! The farms are also using toxic chemicals for pesticides that the farmers are exposed to at a high rate. The areas where these migrant farmers are working needs to be recognized as well. California is in a state of drought where in some counties you can’t even drink the water because it is toxic. Many of the migrant farmers live in these counties. Yet these migrant farmers are working on farms whose crops are literally “drowned” in fresh water.

The final dimension that I want to drop in this piece is that if you’ve lived in the hood, the ghetto, the barrio or on the rez you know that due to many factors it can be stressful. This stress is centered around many of the side effects of poverty. In these environments the rate of mental health issues is at higher level than with white communities. It is the stress inducing nature of poverty and the environment. When you see this you are seeing the results of a system which exploited and exploits Original People things vs people. There is a saying that the system is not broken. It is doing exactly what it was designed to do. The key for all of the people in the ghetto, the barrio and the rez is to realize that they have access to complete healing systems that can trump this system. That system is a combination of traditional wisdom, innovation, originality and straight up hacking this system. HoodHealth is a piece of that solution.

-Alife Allah

C’BS ALife Allah is the co-editor of the Hood Health Handbook and co-creator of the HoodHealth concept. Check him out at ALifeAllah.com and follow him on twitter @alifeallahor IG @Alifeallah

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