We were slow to publish this newsletter, but Black History Month was in February, with a special 2022 theme of “Black Health and Wellness“. We want to highlight the leadership of the Black community in spreading acupuncture in North America.
Many acupuncture fans don’t realize that Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of Tupac Shakur, along with fellow Black Panthers and the Young Lords, started the first acupuncture addiction detox program in America in the early 1970’s. Check out a great history lesson on this topic from Dr. Tenisha Dandridge, co-founder of BlackAcupuncturist.com. This initiative is also described in Dope Death, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Mia Donovan that just played in Toronto.
According to a research article on anti-Black racism and health, especially during COVID published last August, “racism is a public health crisis”. It also has a strong mental health impact. The Greater Toronto Area is home to Black leadership in health and wellness, such as the Taibu Community Health Centre, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands, the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, the Black Health Alliance, Across Boundaries, the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre / Multicultural Women Against Rape, and many many more.
Grassroots health and wellness leaders play an important role as well, such as Allison Hill, who started a wellness hub out of her Riverdale salon. As Hill explains to Toronto Life: “I realized I knew a lot of Black women who also have trouble getting rest and support. Many Caribbean women came to Canada to work in homes and hospitals so that others could rest, and we’re taught that we should always be working. We are taught that self-care is indulgent. Those ideas are so ingrained in us that when we go to look for help, when things get really stressful, we feel guilty. We don’t take stress leave from work. We hesitate to go on vacation. We fight through our exhaustion.”
While Black history is important all year round, we can make a special effort to donate to any of the above organizations (or others like Black Lives Matters), do educational activities with kids or adults, read books by Black authors, books on Black health and wellness, or attend online events.