Category: Prime Politics Written by Michael Cottman
In the early 1940s, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt worked with chefs to prepare healthy, inexpensive White House meals as part of her campaign to promote responsible cooking during the Great Depression.
Seventy years later, First Lady Michelle Obama has customized Roosevelt’s concept to lead a White House nutrition- based crusade of her own: A national initiative called “Let’s Move!” designed to end childhood obesity through proper diet and exercise.
Obama, who is writing a book about the garden she planted on the South Lawn of the White House, is the architect of a remarkable 21st century effort to confront a legitimate health issue that many parents want to ignore. But the warning signs are everywhere.
During a recent trip to Detroit, while awaiting a table at a restaurant, I noticed four overweight Black children eating heaping helpings of fried foods while their parents doused their meals with salt and hot sauce. There were no salads or vegetables on the table. It was refreshing to see a Black family eating dinner together, but it was troubling to see exactly what they were eating.
Multiply that family by millions of other black folks who have spent years practicing unhealthy eating habits, and it’s no wonder that black America is experiencing a health crisis.
Every day, we’re putting our children at risk by allowing them to eat whatever they want, whenever they want – and it’s a detrimental cycle. Those smothered pork chops we’re serving up are smothering our kids.
Obama is working to combat what health experts are calling a national epidemic of obesity, particularly in children of color. This isn’t a new problem, but Obama is correctly treating the issue with a sense of urgency and talking to parents and educators about childhood obesity in communities across the country.
Black parents should be listening carefully to Obama and taking notes. Health experts say obesity puts African-American children at a greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and other serious medical conditions.
“Now, usually, when I talk to groups like this, I start by discussing the statistics: how the incidence of obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years; how nearly one out of every three of our children is overweight or obese; and how small, personal choices like what you serve your kids at the dinner table, or how getting them away from the computer and getting them out into the fresh air can really make the world of difference on this issue,” Obama said at the National League of Cities Legislative Conference this week.
“But if we’re going to make any progress at all,” Obama said, “we must acknowledge that there is a problem, and then we have to do everything in our power to work together to fix it.”
Consider these statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
• African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese, compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese.
• African Americans were 1.5 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites.
• African American women were 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic White women.
• African-American children were 30 percent as likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic children.
In the past year, Obama has taken her campaign to schools and food manufacturers, urging them to serve healthier school lunches. This week, however, Obama broadened the pitch for her crusade and offered a compelling economic perspective: She urged mayors to help fight childhood obesity and stimulate the economy in the process.
In Philadelphia, Obama said, Mayor Michael Nutter is planning to support fresh food stores in the city. Nutter, she said, is using the healthy food concept to create more than 5,000 jobs.
“All of you here know this isn’t a new issue at all. You know childhood obesity is already affecting your communities, weighing down your budgets, hampering economic growth,” Obama said.
Yet “by investing in even one grocery store, you might be able to revitalize just one neighborhood,” the First Lady said. “By building more sidewalks (today), you can reduce health costs and budget strain tomorrow.”
“What many of you already understand is that a healthier community can lead to a healthier economy,” she added. “You don’t have to pass sweeping new ordinances on this issue. Sometimes it is very simple, common-sense ideas that can make a big difference.”
Last month, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh took a swipe at the First Lady because she ordered ribs for dinner while she was on a weekend getaway. Limbaugh, who usually twists the facts to fit his own agenda, failed to mention that Mrs. Obama also ordered a salad with her meal. What’s worse is that Limbaugh questioned the First Lady’s physical fitness. It was rude and unacceptable. And when is the last time Limbaugh stepped on a scale?
Here’s the truth: Michelle Obama could have taken the easy way out and cruised through four years in the White House hosting White House receptions as the low profile wife of a sitting president. But she didn’t.
The First Lady accepted a visible leadership role from the East Wing, and she is shining a bright light on a health crisis that impacts young African- Americans disproportionately. As parents, we should take the issue of childhood obesity seriously.
We owe it to our children and to the generations of Black children to follow.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:21
Category: Prime Politics Written by Mark Morial
“I pledge…Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable, and energy efficient housing on fair terms.”
One of the National Urban League’s four I AM EMPOWERED goals.
No, President Obama was not born in Kenya. Superman is not real. And there is no monkey man roaming the streets of Hoboken scaring the daylights out of little children. Some urban myths are nutty. Some are funny. But some, like the one about mortgage loans in low and middle income urban neighborhoods being the cause of the financial meltdown, can be downright dangerous.
Since this assertion was first made several years ago, the National Urban League has called it for what it is — a weapon of mass deception, shifting blame for the economic crisis from Wall Street where it rightfully belongs onto the backs of hard working African American and Hispanic homeowners, who for decades were routinely refused home loans and a fair shot at the American Dream.
Leading economists have agreed with us, including Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, FDIC chairman Sheila Bair and Nobel Prize columnist Paul Krugman. And now, a new study by the congressionally established Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission conclusively states that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), established in 1977 to prevent redlining and spur homeownership in urban neighborhoods “was not a significant factor in subprime lending or the crisis.”
Undergirding this myth is the claim by some that the CRA requires banks and thrifts to make loans to unqualified low-income and minority borrowers. They contend that a higher default rate by those borrowers caused the housing meltdown.
Aside from the fact that the law clearly states that the CRA lending must be consistent with safe and sound banking practices, there is no evidence that the CRA caused lenders to make risky subprime loans that contributed to the crisis. In fact, most subprime loans are not made to minorities or low income borrowers.
Between 2005 and 2007, 58% of higher costs loans were made to White borrowers, and fewer than 30% of subprime loans in 2006 were made to low and moderate-income borrowers.
According to Commission chairman Phil Angelides, “The debate about the role of the CRA should now be over…We found that this crisis was avoidable and was caused by widespread failures in financial regulation, dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance, excessive risk and borrowing, government officials ill-prepared for the crisis and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.”
In short, Black, Brown and poor people, aggressively spurred on by the CRA, did not cause our economic meltdown.
This has been a yarn spun by some who wish to shift the blame from Wall Street to Main Street. The latest to use this as a weapon of mass deception is Florida freshman congressman, Allen West who, speaking at a February Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, singled out the CRA as the cause of the housing crisis. He added, “If government gets out of the way of the private sector, it would not have happened in 2008.”
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission disagrees and so do we. With millions of people out of work, instead of clinging to discredited ideological theories, our policymakers should be focused on creating jobs and making sure that more citizens are able to realize the American Dream of homeownership.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:32
Category: Prime Politics Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Once upon a time, Detroit had a population of over a million and it was still governed by nine council members at the time. Today the city has shrunk with population loss and dwindling services and yet it is still governed by the same number of council members it had then.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:25
Category: Prime Politics Written by Loretta Humphrey-Cruz
Jan. 17, 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the official Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. On Jan. 15, Dr. King would have been 82 years old. Today, the life and legacy of Dr. King represents to us the undying hope of a nation living its noblest principles, where people from all walks of life live in peace and dignity, consistent with his concept of “The Beloved Community.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:32
Category: Prime Politics Written by Chronicle Staff
Bishop P.A. Brooks, 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ and the founding pastor of St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Detroit, will host a citywide town hall meeting to assess the impact of the policies of President Barack Obama’s administration on the African American community.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:30
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