Baraza: Owning our health: Women need equity, solutions discussion

baraza2015-908On Oct. 10 on a bright, sunny Saturday morning, more than 300 Black women gathered for the 4th Annual Baraza – A Black Woman’s Health Gathering.

Baraza is a Swahili word, which translated means, “a meeting held by a collective group of people of wisdom.” Indeed, that is exactly what it was.

Co-chaired by Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter and NorthPoint Health & Wellness CEO, Stella Whitney-West, and organized and coordinated by Jackie Cooper, executive assistant of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), Baraza brought together leading state and national experts to discuss and understand health issues affecting Black women.

Dr. Adeya Richmond, staff psychologist at Hennepin County Medical Center, gave a presentation on postpartum depression and anxiety. In addition, Robert Taylor, chef at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, presented on cooking healthy with flavor and Dr. Reba Peoples, a private practice psychiatrist at the Imara Health & Wellness in Minneapolis, discussed the hidden habits that may be making women ill. Alzheimer’s health advocate Vanne Owen Hayes and certified public health nurse Beverly Propes discussed brain games and strategies for healthy aging. Film producer and community engagement consultant, Robin Hickman, gave a dynamic presentation on spirituality and well-being. Sameerah Bilal-Roby, director of the African American Babies Project, received rave reviews for her presentation on hope, courage, promise and innovation and Dr. Tamiko Morgan, chief medical director for Metropolitan Health Plan, gave a presentation entitled, “Be Careful What You Think … Your Body Might be Listening,” which discussed the many ways that our minds and emotions affect our physical being.

baraza2015-917The afternoon plenary session began with the very poignant introduction by Dr. Sylvia Bartley, co-chair of the AALF board of directors. Bartley, who holds a Ph.D. in neurophysiology from one of London, England’s most prestigious medical schools, discussed how Black woman need to get past the stigma associated with the need for professional counseling in order to address the stress of life. She discussed the professional counseling that she utilizes to help relieve the stress of the multiple roles that she plays as a single mother, financial provider for her family and corporate executive.

The keynote speaker was Linda Goler Blount, president & CEO, of The Black Women’s Health Imperative. Goler Blount, has more than 25 years of experience working for organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Coca Cola Company, and American Cancer Society dealing with health issues affecting African American people. Her presentation discussed a national survey that showed that Black women’s primary health concerns had to do with issues of stress and social-emotional issues – not physical issues – related to the multiple roles that Black women play as mothers, single heads of households, caregivers to parents and financial providers and maintainers of the family.

For the men in the audience, the take away message is that we, as men, need to step-up and assume our responsibility for our women, children and families, and relieve the burden on our women.

Baraza is an AALF annual event sponsored by Medtronic, HealthPartners, NorthPoint Health & Wellness, St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

October 20, 2015
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