Spelman Leading on Black Women’s Health

With black women facing significantly higher rates of excess weight or obesity than the average American (4 out of 5 vs 2 out of 3), some people are taking action. After Surgeon General Regina Benjamin encouraged women to stop allowing concern about the look of their hair to keep them from exercising, actress Nicole Ari Parker, who is African American, created a “Save Your Do” Gymwrap that helps protect hair from the effects of sweat and rigorous movement.

Parker encourages women to stop thinking about exercise as something you do to lose weight and to start thinking of it as something you do to improve your health. Toni Carey started Black Girls Run, a running club for black women, which now has 52,000 members across the country. But perhaps the most interesting change that’s been made is by Spelman College, a historically black women’s college. Spelman recently announced plans to discontinue all of its Division III athletics in favor of a campus-wide wellness program.

According to Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman, “The need is urgent, and it is our population — young black women — that is among the most at risk for negative health outcomes. Committed to educating the whole person, mind, body, and spirit, we have an opportunity to change this epidemic. Ending intercollegiate participation may seem counterintuitive, given our focus on physical activity, but instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars transporting a small number of athletes to intercollegiate events, we will be investing those dollars in intramural programs and wellness activities that can be sustained for a lifetime.”

Click here to read the Washington Post story and here to read Spelman’s statement on the change.