Why More Black People Should Be Blood Donors


Though millions of people worldwide suffer from Sickle Cell Disease, the general public is still very uninformed about its impact. It’s estimated that about 300,000 children are born with the disease each year. (Source NPR)

According to the CDC, “SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a ‘sickle.’ The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.”

Some people, like myself, have the Sickle Cell Trait but not the disease. This means that we have, “one sickle cell gene and one normal gene.” Sickle Cell Disease can occur when both parents of a child have the trait. In this case, there is a 25% chance of the child having SCD. (Source CDC )

Though Sickle Cell Disease affects people from various ethnic backgrounds, it is highly prevalent in people of African descent. The Sickle Cell Trait may have developed as a natural resistant to Malaria. Researchers believe,”Due to its protective effect against malaria, the sickle mutation may have been naturally selected in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is endemic and one of the major causes of death.” (Source Science Daily)

Some patients require blood transfusions to treat severe anemia. This is where Black blood donors come in because people of similar ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have the same blood type. The success of transfusions highly depends on the similarity in blood types.

Recently one blood donation center encountered some confusion about this and was even accused of being racist for asking for more Black blood donors. Check out their excellent and informative response below:

Based on the explanation above, more Black blood donors will save more Black lives affected by Sickle Cell Disease. Unfortunately, the medical field is highly distrusted by many communities of African descent due to past and recent mistreatment and abuse (Source TheHill). Still the need for Black blood donors exists and would benefit Black patients greatly.


Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of OurLegaci.com. To reach Jessica, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/JAMAiwuyor.

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The Rebellious Vegetarian

The Rebellious Vegetarian

“if You Re-Bel With A Cause, You won’t be a Rebel Without a Cause” – Last Chance Charlie

‘Eat organic’; ‘Free Range & Cage Free’; ‘Grass fed – no steroids’; ‘wild caught – no nets – on lines‘. 

‘Cramped enclosures‘; ‘de-beaked and abused’; ‘over-farmed &; over-fished’; ‘outbreaks of disease’; ‘Tyson and Monsanto’.

Am I the only one that is getting a little weary of all the Preaching and the Guilt that pervades the Medias’ coverage of, ‘Food – Its Evils and Horrors’. 

That might as well be the Headlines.

Or why do they say things like, “Caught in the dastardly clutches of President Bar-Sinister, Food is the hapless victim in the battle of Good vs. Evil”…

… if what they really mean is “Bi-Partisanship, Cooperation, Compromise and Consensus”?

When they’re not making you feel Guilty, you are made to feel Un-Educated. I’ve heard people with advanced degrees say, “I have a PhD and I couldn’t even figure it out”, about normal everyday things.

That’s the real conspiracy, make everyone dependent on Them.

That is why you hear words like, “We Know that You are having a Difficult time adjusting to this change in Dietary Life-Style, which is why We are providing You with Prepared [pre-selected, pre-tasted, pre-tested, pre-demographed, pre-TradeMarked, pre-packaged and pre-sented] meals for your… entire Week/entire Month/entire Year/entire… Life

It is the same thing when I go grocery shopping. The media and mainly my wife, have me so paranoid and programmed, that I find myself doing the same things that I used to think only ‘fanatics’ do: 

Freak out over the news – Go to the library and read every book about it – Throw out all the meat in the freezer – Eat corn on the cob without butter – Map out a route of at least 5 different stores and 2 of those are Farmers markets – Tell Everyone that they Did and Do. 

So My resolution to reclaim my sanity, for the remainder of this year and into the next, and for ever long this lasts, is to stop listening and start enjoying. 

I have heard enough to make up my own mind and I agree with the things I agree with. I’ll reserve judgment on other things as the information becomes clearer, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be careless and overindulgent. Give me some credit for good sense.

But if I have to eat ‘wood chips’, I’ll eat them the way I want to eat them – with roasted red peppers, garlic and goat cheese – thank you very much.

It doesn’t cost more either with all the money we save annually buying our beans, rice and cereal in bulk – I’m talking 50lb bags.

Fresh local fruits and vegetables on par with major chain prices. The only things I pay a little bit extra for are ‘accoutrements’ like:

Mango salsa and powder, eggplant and garlic spread, feta with herbs, cumin seeds, Jamaican Curry powder and apple-wood smoked, salt and pepper.

I love to eat and I need to be happy about what I’m eating; and I am happiest when I can be creative.

So if you don’t mind, I’d like shaved Pecans, sliced Strawberries and Bosc Pears with my Pan-Seared Wild Alaskan Salmon salad: 

A skinless fillet, 

Marinated in a blend of extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, basil, oregano, garlic, cracked pepper and sea salt, 

The garlic and herbs chopped and mixed together, blended with the olive oil, salt and pepper,

Rub into the flesh side only,

Let sit for 20 – 30 minutes in the refrigerator,

 Then place flesh side down in a hot nonstick pan for 45 – 60 seconds, 

 Until you get a nice golden brown searing and caramelizing of the fresh garlic and herbs; 

 Turn over and cook for another 90 seconds and remove. 

Cooked to perfection, the flesh flaky and moist, it is ready to be served on a tossed bed of mixed greens and spinach, mixed with Feta, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, cucumber, sliced cherry tomatoes and baby carrots, red onion, cilantro and avocado, then garnished with shaved Pecans, sliced Strawberries and Bosc Pears.

As an alternative to either a Raspberry Vinaigrette or Light Poppy-seed dressing, try a tablespoon or two, of Mango Salsa from Trader Joes.

I think I feel a cookbook coming on.

 Copyright ©2010 Anthony Hall

The REAL Soul Food: The Benefits Of A Vegan Diet For African-Americans

Fried chicken, ribs, chitterlings, collard greens, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, these are common staples of what most like to call “soul food”. You can find these foods showing up at many Sunday dinners, barbeques, weddings and church functions. The African-American community especially takes pride in providing some of the best soul food cooking around. The problem is that most of this food that people call good for the soul, is not so good for the physical body. Heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes disproportionately affect those in the African-American community. Of course, African-Americans are not the only race of people that partakes in “soul food”, but the price that we pay according to statistics seems to be far greater than other races.

On Medicinenet.com, Daniel DeNoon uncovers these startling statistics in the article, “Why 7 Diseases Strike Blacks Most”:

  • Diabetes is 60% more common in black Americans than in white Americans. Blacks are up to 2.5 times more likely to suffer a limb amputation and up to 5.6 times more likely to suffer kidney disease than other people with diabetes.
  • Strokes kill 4 times more 35- to 54-year-old black Americans than white Americans. Blacks have nearly twice the first-time stroke risk of whites.
  • Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life — and with much higher blood pressure levels — than whites. Nearly 42% of black men and more than 45% of black women aged 20 and older have high blood pressure.
  • Cancer treatment is equally successful for all races. Yet black men have a 40% higher cancer death rate than white men. African-American women have a 20% higher cancer death rate than white women.

Additionally, according to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States. However, African-Americans have the highest death rate percentage at 25.8.

I’m quite sure this is not the first time you have read alarming statistics about the health of African-Americans, however it is now important to examine alternative lifestyle choices to turn these numbers around in our favor. Through my own extensive research, I learned that the cause of many diseases is linked directly to what we eat. According to research done on vegan.org, consuming animal fats and proteins has been widely linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and many other debilitating conditions. The milk from cows has ideal amounts of protein and fat for young calves, but too much for humans. Eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food. The American Dietetic Association reported that vegetarian/vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for these conditions. So, based on the health statistics of African-Americans and the benefits of a plant-based diet, it seems only natural to think twice before frying up some bacon!

I went vegetarian in 2001 and became a full-fledged vegan in 2006. The major difference between the two is that a vegan diet eliminates the consumption of all animal products. Many vegetarians still consume fish, eggs or dairy. Most people believe if they stop consuming animal products, they will be relegated to a boring eating lifestyle. There are so many resources, websites and cookbooks now available for vegan eating, that it would be impossible to get bored! I thoroughly enjoy what I eat and as an added bonus, know I am being kind to my body.

Many are also concerned they will not get all the vitamins and nutrients they need on a vegan diet and this is also a myth. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans provide all of the protein and nutrients your body needs. It’s all about education, planning and experimentation. I feel it’s time that African-Americans step outside of the box and take control of our health and in turn educate others on making healthy lifestyle choices. I realize that going vegan is a bit extreme for most, but I hope to be an example to show people that it is attainable and beneficial on many levels. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are foods that are best for your body and in turn make them good for your soul!

Christa R. Shelton currently resides in Atlanta, Ga and blogs daily on veganism. You can check out her blog at www.vegginoutwithchrista.blogspot.com for more information on veganism and health.

HIV Negative…I Got My Papers. Do you?

A few days ago I was at work skimming through an old issue of Essence Magazine that I kinda sorta stole from one of my closest sista girlfriends. I got to this article called Capital Offense about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Washington D.C. According to this article, D.C. is our nation’s leader in AIDS cases, with Black women making up most of the new HIV cases. African Americans make up “84% of newly reported HIV/AIDS cases” in The District of Columbia. Now, usually I skip articles like these because they are very scary to take in. But this time, I forced myself to continue reading and the more I read, the more I realized that I had been underestimating the extent to which HIV/AIDS was affecting the Black community. I kept thinking wow, this is real. HIV/AIDS is real and the topic should not be ignored or avoided because many of us are dying. The poverty that plagues the city plays a key role in this epidemic as nearly 19% of its resident’s are poverty stricken. Needless to say poverty begets crime and drug use, which leads to the exchange of needles, which leads to more cases of HIV/AIDS.

So I decided that I would take a step towards eliminating this epidemic and get myself tested. The last time I was tested was about 9 months ago but the health department encourages follow ups so I scheduled an appointment yesterday. Today, I sat in the Health Department anxiously awaiting my turn, paid my $15, and saw the nurse. My nurse was an old Black Woman with a warm southern accent. She reminded me of someone’s no nonsense but loving Grandmother. She drew blood from my finger, pushing down hard around the opening to get a good drop of blood. After she sent the blood off for testing (which took 20 mins), she decided that we would have a talk.

We went to another office, closed the door and she said to me, “What do you know about HIV?” I was so startled by the question that my little Master’s degree went out the window. I found myself stumbling over words and saying the little bit I could remember. Then she gave me the most elaborate explanation of HIV/AIDS that I have ever heard. She started at the beginning and talked about everything: “The best ways to avoid contracting HIV is abstinence and condoms. Condoms are 99% effective. Don’t exchange needles. Don’t even exchange crack pipes because there may be wounds in your mouth. If you are bisexual, wash your toys in Clorox. HIV/AIDS dies within seconds when it hits the air but if you are positive don’t leave bloody articles around. If you are positive and you have unprotected sex with someone else who is also positive, you may increase your chances of turning HIV into AIDS.”  And so on and so on. I was like a little kid again in school at my desk. Then my teacher said, “Okay now sit out there while I go get your results.”

As I sat, all of the things that she said were running through my head. That’s when I realized that this woman really cared about me. I have been tested on numerous occasions and nobody took the time to see if I really understood what was going on. No one ever took the time to make sure I knew how to protect myself. No one ever took the time to speak to me on a personal human level about getting a HIV test.

When she called my back to the office, she informed me that my results were Negative. Then she gave me another talk about protecting myself. These were her words, “Trust NO ONE. Don’t trust anybody! The Black male has little concern for the Black female. He will go out and have sex with a risky person and then come right back to you and give it to you… A lot of women get HIV from their husbands. A woman I knew died this way… If a black man goes to prison and doesn’t have it already, chances are he has it when he comes out and passes it right along…Some people with HIV get sad and go spread the virus on purpose to share it with others… Don’t trust anybody!…Use a condom.”

The words of this old Black woman stung me. Reality set in. How many times have I engaged in intercourse unprotected with a boyfriend? How many times have we all done this, whether it was a girlfriend or boyfriend (maybe even one that we didn’t really trust)? Then, usually, especially in youth, those relationships don’t last. We don’t realize how many times we are putting our lives at risk. On the subject of the black man, those are her opinions. However, it has been proven time and time again that you may think you’re the only one and in reality you are as Aretha Franklin puts it, in a “Chain of fools.” The results are higher rates of HIV/AIDS cases among Black women than any other category in the U.S. Still, we hardly ever talk about it in our communities. It’s a secret, a hidden all out epidemic.

I just want to say to everyone. Love yourself. My sista Griselda reminded me of that in an article she wrote a few weeks ago. We’ve got to start loving ourselves better. We need to talk about this issue more openly. Churches (the best avenue to reach Black People) need to have some HIV/AIDS classes and testing days. We need to fight for Brothas in prison to have access to condoms. We need to remind Sistas that love for self is more important that HIS love. And we need to destroy this sexist misogynist illusion of Manhood that so many Brothas have fallen susceptible to. We need to replace it with “real” knowledge of self and self love.

So, I just wanted to let you all know about my recent eye opening experience. Please go get tested and tell your friends to get tested. Get educated about HIV/AIDS, so that we can prevent it from spreading. We don’t have to live like this. We can prosper. We can save our communities.

By Jessica Ann Mitchell