Six Tips For Year-Round Injury Prevention

The onset of winter weather means challenging conditions for outdoor activities and lurking dangers to our bodies— the back in particular.

Slipping on ice and shoveling snow cause many mishaps. And health professionals point out, cold weather alone makes the back vulnerable to injuries whether one is clearing the driveway, skiing, sledding, or working out. Muscles, tendons and ligaments in the back tighten and become less flexible, thus more prone to injury.

But while back problems may begin or become more pronounced in winter, Dr. Bradford Butler says there’s a year-round prescription for protection, through prevention, and it starts with maintaining flexibility.

“Almost all spinal problems begin with a loss of flexibility,” said Dr. Butler a chiropractor and author of The Blueprint For Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide To Non-Surgical Solutions. “The less flexible we are, the more stress the back is under; therefore, the more likely you are to have injury and breakdown.

“Let’s face it, very few people value prevention. If we did, as a country, we wouldn’t have the world’s most expensive health care system. For preventing back pain, maintenance care is always cheaper, faster, and longer-lasting than looking for a quick fix.”

Dr. Butler shares a six-point prevention strategy:

•Focus on stretching and flexibility. “Our body is designed to move,” Dr. Butler says. “Regular walking is a naturally occurring way to stay flexible. Yoga is a fantastic way to increase overall body flexibility, strength, and wellness.”

•Change your work environment. Dr. Butler says sitting for extended periods at work may be the biggest cause of back problems. “Sitting accelerates the breakdown of all parts of the spine that can cause pain,” he says. “Research suggests sitting is the worst position for your lower back. Get up and move around as much as possible. A standing desk is a good option.”

•Exercise regularly. “This is key to preventing back pain,” Dr. Butler says. “In addition to flexibility, strength that comes with consistent exercise is a main factor in avoiding injury.’

•Target nutrition and weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is important in preventing back pain. “The heavier you are, the more stress is transferred to your spine, muscles, and joints,” Dr. Butler says. “Eat a natural diet and avoid toxic and over processed foods. Healthy foods give your body the building blocks to heal and repair faster.”

•Seek chiropractic maintenance. “Having regular chiropractic care is an effective and safe way to prevent back and neck problems,” Dr. Butler says. “Chiropractic adjustment mobilizes the joints of the spinal segments, which prevents degeneration, injury, and pain.”

•Get massage treatments. “Massage therapists are experts in relaxing tense muscles or working out trigger points and breaking up scar tissue,” Dr. Butler says. “Massage also helps you deal with stress, which leads to tension.”

“The old saying ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ couldn’t be truer, especially when it comes to your back,” Dr. Butler says. “Prevention is an investment, not an expense.”

Bradford Butler, a chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions is owner and director of Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy, which has three locations in northern New Jersey. For more information, visit: www.drbradfordbutler.com.

Promised Land Might Be Near, But Is Not Quite Here

Last month America celebrated Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday, 50 years after his assassination. Now is a time when Dr. King’s principles and philosophy are more than ever needed – and being more than ever challenged. During an MLK Day speech, former vice president, Joe Biden, commented that “it doesn’t take much to awaken hate” in America. Did hate go to sleep?

Mr. Biden’s comment is a recognition that in the last half century when African Americans made more strides toward full citizenship than we had in the previous 350 years since we arrived in chains in Jamestown, Virginia – exactly four centuries ago this year – that this country’s racist power elite appeared to retreat from their blatant Apartheid system of racial control.

That appearance – or disappearance – is deceptive. Though the racist power elite may have seemed dormant they were regrouping , not retreating. One need only closely scrutinize certain government and corporate policies affecting African Americans to see glaring systemic machinations that maintain the African American population at-large in a perpetual downtrodden status which is more effective than Jim Crow because the in-your-face racism has been replaced with the illusion of egalitarianism.

The following thumbnails identify critical social categories that demonstrate, despite outliers and celebrity examples, how far African Americans have yet to climb to reach that Promised Land envisioned by Dr. King.

Housing

A 2018 report by the Urban Institute found that African American home ownership is lower now than it was prior to the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 when it was legal for the government and the private sector to racially discriminate. According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers home ownership among African Americans is currently 41.7% versus 72.2% for Caucasians. A study by Zillow Research finds this ownership gap is wider now than it was in 1900.

Forbes Magazine published a May 2018 article revealing that nationally African American mortgage applicants were denied 21% of the time versus an 8.1% denial rate for Caucasians. On the flip side, “using data from three waves of the U.S. Survey of Consumer Finance, our results suggest that black borrowers on average pay about 29 basis points more than comparable white borrowers,” reports researchgate.net.

Education

“At any given poverty level, districts that have a higher proportion of white students get substantially higher funding than districts that have more minority students,” according to Genentech data scientist, David Mosenkis. Based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics, high school graduation rates for Caucasian students is 88% versus 76% for African Americans, in direct correlation to funding levels.

Male Caucasian high school grads compared to African American males is 80% and 59%, respectively. College graduation rates are more stark. Caucasian students graduate at a 62% rate and African Americans at 38% respectively, according to a 2017 study by Inside Higher Ed.

Over 30 million Americans, nearly 10% of the population are illiterate according to a Concordia University study, adding that “literacy continues to be a mechanism of social control and oppression.” On the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress 12th Grade Reading Level Assessment, 46% of Caucasian students scored proficient or better, while only 17% of African American students scored comparably.

Unemployment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of Caucasian versus African American workers in the 4th quarter of 2017 was 3.4% compared to 7.0%. Among 16 to 19 year-old workers, the overall unemployment rate was 12.3% for Caucasians versus 21.8% for African American young adults. Among male youth, 16 – 19 years old, the rate was 14.5% and 29%, respectively for Caucasians compared to African Americans.

Earnings

The 2016 median household income for African Americans was $38,555 compared to $61,349 for Caucasian families according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that African American males earned only 73% of what Caucasian males with similar education and experience earned, the exact same gap that existed 35 years ago. The Economic Policy Institute released a study in 2017 that concluded one-in-12 Caucasians were earning poverty level wages compared with one-in-7 African Americans.

Incarceration

According to the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet:

  • In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
  • African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
  • The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women.
  • Nationwide, African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested.

Police Shootings

“Police violence disproportionately impacts young people, and the young people affected are disproportionately people of color,” according to Anthony Bui of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, reported by NBC News. The report concluded that African-Americans die at the hands of police at a rate of 7.2 per million, while Caucasians are killed at a rate of 2.9 per million, a nearly 250% higher rate.

This snapshot of how African Americans are faring coupled with the “awakened hate” Joe Biden described, emboldened by Donald Trump’s behavior and rhetoric, should be a blaring wake- up call to African Americans to continue the struggle fervently and be tirelessly vigilant.

The Promised Land might be near, but is not quite here.

Local Tech Industry Leaders Assemble To Discuss The Future Of Baltimore City

“The Future Of Charm City” was a night of networking, collaboration and discussion with telecommunications giant AT&T and local tech hub Betamore that involved a panel of tech pioneers, creative entrepreneurs, community leaders and business executives who came together to discuss the future of technological innovation in Baltimore, and how the growing technology sector is affecting the region across different industries.

The event, presented by AT&T in conjunction with Betamore, was held on January 24, 2019 at the City Garage. Event attendees had the chance to get an up-close look at small cell equipment, which is paving the way for the next generation of mobile technology.

Panelists were Marc Blakeman, president of AT&T Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.); Bill Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation; Ellen Hemmerly, Executive Director at bwtech at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Research and Technology Park; Greg Cangialosi, Chairman and Co-Founder of Betamore; Alysha January, influencer and blogger; and Heidi Klotzman, CEO of HeidnSeek Entertainment.

The panel discussion was moderated by Thiru Vignarajah, former Maryland deputy attorney general. He opened the discussion by highlighting the promise that Baltimore has despite its deplorable reputation.

“What we want to do tonight is to talk a little bit about how technology, in particular, is going to advance the future of Baltimore,” Vignarajah said.

“We talk a lot about what’s wrong with the city. What we’re going to do tonight is talk about what’s right, and what could set us on the path to becoming the 22nd-century city that Baltimore is destined to become.”

Moreover, the panelists shared their thoughts on the future of Baltimore’s purported burgeoning tech industry. Some of the topics discussed were how various sectors of the community will benefit from the expected technological advancements coming to the city, such as law enforcement, the transit system, education and job creation. Small-cell infrastructure was also a major point of emphasis.

Following the panel discussion was a brief Q&A session in which the audience asked questions concerning advancements in technology and the arts, in healthcare technology and small-cell technology’s impact on the city.

Small cells are small, unobtrusive equipment that can be placed onto existing infrastructure (light pole, building, etc.) and are vital components of the future of technology. According to the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, small-cell reforms and developments can lead to an estimated 6,427 jobs in Maryland along with a $9 billion Maryland Gross State Product.

A recent report by Technically Baltimore notes that over the next 10 years, AT&T plans to install thousands of small cells across Maryland. Antenna systems installed on light poles and buildings could help usher in 5G technology – a term used to describe the next generation of blazingly fast mobile networks beyond the 4G LTE mobile networks of today – which is already starting to appear in various locations around Maryland, Blakeman said.

Blakeman said Baltimore is at the precipice of a cybersecurity breakthrough, and expressed what importance that technological infrastructure will have for the city as 2020 approaches. He encouraged the audience to be ‘digitally responsible’ and that they have a role in building the infrastructural network that may revive Baltimore City.

“From AT&T’s perspective, there’s amazing things being done with technology today,” Blakeman said.

“This technology is only as good as the infrastructure that it rides on… So we’re really working on building up infrastructure here in Maryland and letting people know that we appreciate their help and making sure their voices get heard.”

Alysha January, also an activist passionate about creating equality, uses her social media platform to highlight small businesses in the city.

“I think it will definitely making people start thinking about how is this technology going to help change Baltimore and help us go into a more positive direction,” January said, explaining what she thought to be the significance of the panel discussion. She said she hopes the discussion impels the community to think of ways to use forthcoming technological advancements to ensure that less fortunate youth have equal opportunities.

Jermaine Gibbs was one of the several dozen audience members who appeared to be intrigued by the informative panel discussion and Q&A thereafter.

“I definitely learned about different technologies and I had no clue that the cybersecurity industry was so big in this area,” said Gibbs, a freelance photographer.

“Learning of all the different things that are coming to Baltimore and different opportunities — I’m hoping that these will create jobs, which will help take away some of the poverty, which will in turn take away some of the crime.”

Diabetes Solutions Center Helps Blacks Afford Medication

— Did you know that here in Maryland an estimated 623,000 people, or 12.6% of the population, now have diabetes? Of these, 156,000 of them have diabetes and simply do not know it. In addition, 1,634,000 people in Maryland or a staggering 36.9% of the population, have pre-diabetes.

American Diabetes Association estimates that over 30 million Americans are affected by diabetes and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. In our community, studies show that we are disproportionately affected by diabetes. The rates of diagnosed diabetes among African Americans is 12.7% compared to 7.4% of whites.

Diabetes is a dangerous and deadly illness if not monitored and controlled. Unchecked, it can result in heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and death. In fact, the Maryland Health Department’s Annual Vital Statistics Report reports that diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death in 2017 where 33.2% of those were African Americans compared to 15.9% of whites.

When diabetes is diagnosed, it can be very expensive to treat. African Americans not only face the dilemma of increased diabetes diagnoses, but also face numerous of health care challenges when trying to manage diabetes for a better quality; such as cost for treatments, medications, limited supplies and access to primary care. In fact, people with diabetes have medical expenses about 2.3 times higher than those without it.

When it is hard to afford medication, people may be tempted to try to ration their insulin or not use it as often. That is unwise and even less so with diabetes, which requires lifestyle changes and vigilance with medications.

Eli Lilly and Company, a global leader in diabetes care, understands these gaps, circumstances and burdens of costs in our community. They understand that there are gaps in health care for communities of color and working to help close it by reducing the cost of insulin. They have launched the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center and Helpline to help provide solutions to people who need help paying for their insulin, such as those with lower incomes, the uninsured, and people still paying their deductible in a high-deductible insurance plan. It is truly an innovative program with a multifaceted approach to helping diabetes sufferers afford necessary medications.

The Baltimore Times applauds Eli Lilly for this new effort and the work they have done to help patients access and afford treatments and get on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

Diabetes patients can call the center and representatives will work with them and develop a cost-savings plan based on the patient’s economic and personal situations. The Lilly Diabetes Solution Center phone number is 1-833-808-1234. The call center is fully staffed by health care professionals such as nurses and pharmacists who have the expertise to assist patients.

As diabetes cases continue to increase, Lilly’s program is providing help for people with immediate needs for insulin.

Our hats are off to Lilly for actively trying to help those with this disease. It is this sort of ground-breaking and compassionate thinking that can spur the entire health care industry to establish practices that get the most vulnerable the health care they need, keep more of us healthy and save money for patients in the long run.

About the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center and Helpline

The Solution Center is a solution-oriented program to provide relief for those who are not insured, under insured or have high out-of-pocket expenses. It will assist people to gain access to affordable insulin, resources and options. Specifically, the center provides cost savings solutions, free clinic information to receive support and short-term and long-term options for immediate needs.

Lilly is dedicated to making sure that no one has to pay full price for insulin. And for those who currently pay high costs of insulin, Lilly wants to provide lower costs insulin options.

“We don’t want anyone to have to pay full list price for their insulin, and many people who do will be able to pay significantly less by calling our helpline,” said Mike Mason, senior vice president, Connected Care and Insulins. “Our goal is to ensure that people paying high out-of-pocket costs for Lilly insulins are matched with the best solution available to reduce their financial burden and help ensure they receive the treatment they need.”

Lilly has also donated insulin to three relief agencies that serves communities of color globally and particularly in the US — Americares, Direct Relief and Dispensary of Hope. They have distributed insulin to 150 free clinics around the country. The helpline will direct people toward these clinics in their local communities and provide information on how they can obtain it.

Lilly wants to hear from those who have trouble paying or cannot afford their insulin by calling the helpline. If there is an immediate need, please call the helpline to learn the immediate and long-term best options of care.

Help is available now by calling the Lilly Diabetes Solutions Center helpline at 833-808-1234 to get more information and immediate assistance. Representatives will be available from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm (ET) Monday through Friday

Columbia, Maryland’s Brynn Williams Lands ‘Sweet Role’

Brynn Williams fondly recalled the movie that her mother and grandparents would suggest she watch as a child.

“When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio and what I watched was heavily monitored by my parents,” said Williams reflecting back on her childhood. The original Charlie and The Chocolate Factory movie was always on. My mother watched it growing up and my grandparents were also big fans of the movie.”

Williams laughed as she added, “My grandparents would always say ‘Why don’t we watch that chocolate movie?’”

Little did her mother or grandparents know at the time that the talents of the youngster would be her “golden ticket” to co-starring in a future adaptation of the beloved 1971 classic.

Williams is among the cast of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which played at the Hippodrome Theatre January 22, 2019 through Sunday, January 27, 2019. The production was a part of the 2018/19 CareFirst® BlueCross BlueShield Hippodrome Broadway Series.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells the story of “Willy Wonka”, world famous inventor of the “Everlasting Gobstopper”, who has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous and mysterious factory is opening its gates…to a lucky few. That includes young “Charlie Bucket”, a poor youngster whose life definitely needs sweetening and the bubble-gum popping “Violet Beauregarde.”

Charlie and Violet, along with three other golden ticket winners embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka’s world of pure imagination. The production features the charming “Oompa-Loompas”, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator, and more.

Williams, who portrays “Violet Beauregarde”, talked about the high-energy character who loves to dance and pop gum.

“Violet is an Instagram celebrity from California,” said Williams. “She got famous for chewing the same piece of gum for three years. She is a mixture of Beyonce and Tamar Braxton. She is super confident, and very much a daddy’s girl.”

With direction by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feature lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. The hit Broadway musical includes songs from the original film, including Pure Imagination, The Candy Man, and I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a timeless story that bridges generations,” said Williams.

“It’s also a show about dreaming and the power of imagining.”

Williams said there are many ‘sweet dividends’ to being in the show.

“One of the major perks is that there’s always candy around,” said Williams with a laugh. “There’s always tremendous amounts of chocolate. Another great part of being a cast member in this show is the audience reaction, which is absolutely incredible. It’s a nostalgic story, and the productions features songs from the original 1971 movie as well as brand new songs by Wittman and Shaiman.”

She added, “We have a star-studded production team and cast who all come together to make this show the most fantastic experience. If you grew up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this is the show for you and your kids.”

While her character “Violet Beauregarde”, hails from California, the 26-year-old Williams grew up in Maryland.

“I am a native of Columbia, Maryland,” said Williams. “ My dad was in the Navy, and moved to Maryland. My parents loved Maryland so much that they never left.”

Williams said her theatrical career began at a young age.

“My mother auditioned for a dinner theater,” recalled Williams. “While she was there, the director told my mother they were looking for a little girl for a production and to bring her, if she knew of someone. My mother told the director that she had a daughter that had never done any acting, but was cute and well-behaved. I was six at the time. I was cast, and have been performing ever since. I fell in love with being on stage, singing, and dancing.”

Williams has participated in shows at Tobys Dinner Theater in Columbia, Maryland which include Annie and Big River. Broadway credits include Spongebob Squarepants, Bye Birdie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, In My Life, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Off-Broadway credits include David Bowie’s Lazarus, and Freedom Riders, while television and film credits include “Naked Brother’s Band”, “Between the Lions”, and “Finky’s Kitchen”.

“I was involved with Toby’s Dinner Theater and the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts,” said Williams. “I grew up under their wings as an actress. When I was eight, I started auditioning in New York, but whenever I got the chance, I came back to do shows at Toby’s or with the summer camp.”

She added, “I just finished doing my sixth Broadway show. My ultimate goal is to perform as long as I possibly can. I want to share what I know with the next generation of performers. That’s the most beautiful thing about being in stage. With every person there is a chance to inspire someone. If I can give back and teach someone, I can use what I have for good.”

Catching Sounds Through A Lens: Ayo Omolewa

Musical artists often hear the world a little differently than others. At times, this attribute can be great, and at times it can be one of the most annoying things in the world. You may walk down the street to get a sandwich, and the wind that just blew past your ear could be the inspiration for your next musical project. On the other side of things, you may also be listening to the latest song that everyone loves, but you just can’t seem to fully enjoy it due to that miniscule engineering mistake in bar four. Becaue I am a musical artist, I always imagined that the same would hold true for those who deal with visual art. They might not “hear” the world differently, but maybe the way they see it differs from us.

I had a chance to speak with 26-year old, Ayo O, photographer and founder of the African-orientated “One Tribe Magazine, in reference to the process of a visual artist, and their perception. Ayo gave me some insight, and talked about some personal experiences that many young creatives/entrepreneurs should take heed to.

Drake by Ayo O

Drake by Ayo O

Ayo stated: “For me personally, I think it’s not as much the photography aspect that enables me to see the world differently but just the way I think creatively. As early as I can remember, I’ve always thought just a bit different than other kids. For example, how to solve problems in class, how to communicate etc. I think it is important to keep your creative juices flowing daily and just think differently, then it translates into how you perceive the world, and in turn how you capture the world with photography. I named my photography brand, “TribeVision” because I’ve always had a vision that was different than others and it’s what sets me apart. Especially for me, a music connoisseur, putting my own creative spin on a concert photo plus the different feelings each individual may have for a song or artist produces a work that is not only unique but offers another perception of that said song or artist.”

When scrolling through some of Ayo’s work, one of the first things that stands out is his star studded lineup of muses. Some of his action shots include images of music’s most prominent names such as Drake, Miguel, and J.Cole.

Miguel by Ayo O

Miguel by Ayo O

Success stories tend to sometimes have some sort of misdirection or hurdle in the middle, so I asked Ayo if there were any obstacles during his high profile quests. “Ha! Misdirection is my middle name. Admittedly I’ve had to sneak into some concerts that I really, really wanted to get into, namely the Drake and J.Cole shows. I wouldn’t advise this for anyone, but it was worth it. “They’ve been my favorite shots so far, not because of the photos but because of my personal triumph of being where I was not supposed to be, chasing my personal dream. A major (but fun) hurdle is honestly just learning photography. Learning what your camera can do, what lenses fit your niche, and how to combine both in a cohesive manner.” Ayo said.

Ayo has a very clean and crisp style of photography. The quality of his photos seem to capture every fine detail of the image. What amazes me most about Ayo’s style is his ability to put you in the moment, so much so that you can feel the vibration of the speakers, and the roar of the crowd, simply from the image.

After conversing with two accredited Baltimore Times photographers, Madeline McQuillan, and Lukey Lenz, they also agreed that his style of work is QUITE polished. But, with popular photographers such as Gunner Stahl resurging grimy, gritty, and unedited film photography back into popularity, I asked Ayo his thoughts on the use of digital vs. film. Ayo responded: “I’ve only ever shot digital, but I’ve seen a lot of great film photography that offers a completely new element that digital can’t. To me it offers a deeper look of the “feeling” of the frame and the subjects. I’m not sure if I’ll pursue film but I’ll never say never!”

Being an owner of an engaging, and fledgling magazine, I had to ask what his near future plans are. Ayo asserted: “I have so many ideas written down for 2019 and hopefully I do complete them but for now, I really want to not only shoot more shows but also shoot more “behind the scenes” shots for artist’s music videos and song creation. I think that is an aspect that isn’t really touched on enough. Seeing what the artist goes through while creating a song or video can be interesting for a fan or an up and coming artist. Besides I definitely actually would like to shoot a couple of weddings this year, so if you know anyone getting married, let me know! Ha.”

Be sure to follow Ayo on Instagram @thattribeguy and One Tribe Magazine @onetribemag

Is Black History Month A ‘Minor’ Celebration?

This week, America will celebrate Black History Month for the 42nd time. Like its precursor, Negro History Month, whose 50-year shelf life from 1926 to 1976, perhaps – hopefully – Black History Month is nearing the end of its run as well. The term Black History Month was never suitable, appropriate or accurate to begin with.

When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Month in 1926, he was a visionary and staunch advocate in his attempt to uplift his people at a time when we were despised and held in the lowest regard. Dr. Woodson believed if the larger society knew “Negro” history, accomplishments and potential, we might be held in higher esteem. In Woodson’s time, Negro was the only identification available for African Americans.

Fifty years later, during America’s 1976 bi-centennial, President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged and signed into law, Black History Month, as an official national annual commemoration. Thanks largely to James Brown’s major hit eight years earlier, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” the term ‘negro’ had become anathema— ‘black’ culture ruled the day.

Black as a description is cool. Black as a definition for a people is bad for two reasons.

First, defining our culture and history by a color is an affront to our heritage. Our heritage, our African legacy, goes back to the very beginning of human life on this planet, as we know it in the Fertile Crescent. Black History began in the American South with nameless, faceless, dark people in chains.

Why do we tolerate such a designation that does not speak to our proud ancestral origins? African Americans are who we are. We are probably the only group of Americans who don’t know our familial or ancestral history beyond our own memories or the oral histories of our immediate past relatives.

Embracing ‘black’ as our history must end. Would indigenous Americans define their heritage as Redskin History? White History for Europeans? Yellow History for Asians? How about Beige and Brown History for Near and Middle Easterners? Sound absurd yet?

Second, and perhaps a more pernicious result of accepting black as a definition of who African Americans are, is it legitimizes Caucasians to identify as ‘white.’ Identifying as black and white in America is the BIGGEST hindrance to racial amelioration. Try as you may, it is nearly impossible to connect black to white. The shades of gray are too many to easily bridge. It is much easier, and more accurate, to go from chocolate to vanilla.

The artificial designations of black people and white people, creates a stark dichotomy that informs a wider chasm than actually exists between us. Being ‘white’ affords Caucasians the intrinsically racist rationalization that ‘non-whites’ are minorities or the minor people, a ‘logical’ justification for an us versus them mentality.

African Americans are complicit. Political leaders, academicians, journalists, spiritual leaders— African American and Caucasian— all complacently accept this demeaning description of non-Caucasian people which encourages a WE are above THEM mindset among Caucasians, seen routinely and casually in private and public discourse, and across every media platform.

Black and white is fiction. There are no blacks or whites. Yet, these designations are official terms on official documents across our society, required indices on government, academic, employment and other documents and transactions.

Should we get rid of the ‘white’ designation and substitute the word with ‘majorities’ in all our discourse instead, ascribing the word to identify ‘whites’ as routinely as ‘minorities’ is ascribed to identify ‘non-whites?’ Sound absurd yet?

Observe African American History Month! Perhaps in another 50 years it will be American History Month and the plethora of races, cultures, ethnicities, religions and genders that comprise our country will all be acknowledged and celebrated.