FAMU Community Discusses Physical and Mental Health in the Black Community

Student Health Services and the Meek-Eaton Black Archives held the Black Health and Social Justice forum Wednesday to discuss the effects of violence and racism on physical and mental health.

The Black Health and Social Justice forum was part two of the three-part panel discussion held in regards to the overall theme: A Century of Black Life, History and Culture. The panel consisted of health professionals who spoke to the audience about how violence and racism affects the Black community.

The panel included Dr. Cynthia Seaborn, a research professor of FAMU Center for Health Equity; Dr. Huberta Jackson-Lowman, a psychology professor; and Dana Cooper, the health chair for the FAMU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The panel began with a discussion on how racism and oppression affects the stress levels of African-Americans.

"Many of us African-Americans, because we are experiencing racism and oppression, are dealing with private stress. It starts to tear us down physically and mentally,” said Jackson-Lowman. “We don't have any relief from it. I'm sure that those who are poor experience it even more," said Jackson-Lowman.

Seaborn, who is a member of the Leon County NAACP, thinks the way things are presented shapes the way a person responds.

"Our perceptions are oftentimes colored by events. Sometimes these events will follow us all the way through adulthood, and they color how we respond to certain things,” said Seaborn. “Things are presented to us in a certain way and we think that is the way it should be. Kids are experiencing trauma at home and expected to go to school and learn.”

The panel discussed social issues that have been affecting the Black community as well as strategies to solve them.

Dr. Jackson-Lowman thinks that there are not enough role models for African-American men, and that it takes a collaborative effort to raise children.

"There aren't many role models for African-American men. My husband and I had three kids and we had to depend a lot on family and friends in terms of childcare. If we had to do that all by ourselves, we would've probably been stressed out," said Jackson-Lowman.

Cooper challenged students to take action in supporting one another by supporting Black-owned businesses.

"We'll find triumph here if we're able to support each other through Black businesses and Black initiatives. There are all sorts of Black businesses around you and they are on these apps [on smartphones],” said Cooper. “We have so much access to social media. I would like to charge us to start using these outlets as well."

The panel moderator, Dr. Richard Gragg, associate director and professor in the FAMU Environmental Services Institute, called on students to speak about their thoughts on social issues within the Black community.

Anastasia Baptiste, a junior occupational therapy student from Brooklyn, NY. by way of Trinidad, thinks a lot of the Black community settles and doesn't appreciate what they have.

“I work in a bank but I am not settling there. That is why I'm in college and I'm going to get my doctorate degree. Learning about our history should make us stronger, not complain," said Baptiste.

Part three of the three-part forum will discuss fighting social justice Saturday, Feb. 28 in the Meek- Eaton Black Archives.