Wanted: Black Male Health Role Models

older+black+menAll this buzz about the upcoming Men’s Health Fair got me thinking about men’s health while I was deep cleaning my bathrooms on Monday. Women are very encouraging when it comes to health but not men. We have grown up seeing women support one another. But what about the fellas. I wondered what men do when they need support to reach health goals. They look to the women for support as if we don’t have enough to handle. Men don’t really gather around one another until a crisis occurs. It’s not modeled for them as they are growing up. I can’t speak for all races but with African-American men they can be grossly independent. Where are the Black male health role models?

If you want to influence a movement (no pun intended) you need a few folks that model what the end results will look like. Black women have exercise gurus such as Donna Richardson-Joyner (Sweating in the Spirit, Witness to Fitness), bloggers such as Ericka Nicole Kendall (A Black Girls Guide to Weight Loss), and high ranking physicians in the Federal Government that stress the importance of good health like the Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. Even the First Lady of the United States has a platform to help people reach optimum health. Yet I don’t hear much from her amazing husband regarding the men.  In fact, I don’t see or hear many Black men at all making great strides to make the world a healthier place. Who models good health for the fellas?

Before you say athletes, HOLD ON. It’s true that they have great bodies and stay amazingly fit….fantastic bodies with muscles and broad shoulders, and tight abs, and strong arms and firm buttocks and gorgeous…ahem…back to the health thing.  But when was the last time you heard an athlete encouraging men to go to the doctor? Where are the ball players that sponsor men’s health fairs and sticks around throughout the whole thing to show how committed he is to the cause? I have not seen one player get on the stage with the First Lady to address Black men’s health. Black athletes keep themselves in great shape for obvious reasons but as far as encouraging other Black men to do the same, I don’t see it.

And before you email me the names of about 20 different personal trainers, WAIT A MINUTE. Personal trainers earn money from keeping people in shape. I can’t knock that hustle but who do you see them working out with? Women!! It could be that African-American men don’t really seek personal training assistance but I think it’s tragic that these trainers will push their services to the women and ignore the men. Where are these trainers when we need volunteer coaches for young, Black men at high schools and colleges? Where are they when the men’s health fair comes up to give out free advice, demos, and training plans to Black men who need a push? Why aren’t these trainers and their nutritionist friends going to barbershops and other places where Black men frequent to offer some on the spot training advice? Maybe I need testicles to understand.

Who’s up for the challenge? Who’s gonna speak to the Brothas and encourage them to keep their health at the top of the list. Need some talking points? How about this…

I need Black men to make their health a priority. I need them to help one another so the women can focus on themselves. I need them to be proactive and not reactive. But more importantly, I need to keep cleaning my house so I can generate more cool blog posts like this one (pinky swear you won’t tell my husband and kids).

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