In today's couch potato, video game, microwave, drive thru, grab-a-bite-and-go society, Black people, in particular, must pay more attention to the detriments to our health and the economics of it all.
We must improve our lives, economically and physically, in order to survive and thrive; we must build strong communities; and we must educate ourselves and our children, understanding what lies ahead if we fail to make some serious changes in our lives. We must develop and commit to all-around healthier lifestyles.
What is the connection between economics and health? A healthy economy and a healthy people are interdependent. African-Americans must have both; after all, we are at the bottom of most, if not all, health and economic categories. If we use our dollars to facilitate a healthier lifestyle, we will rise in those categories that have us dying faster than other groups, being predisposed to certain diseases, and being subjected to neighborhood shysters and profiteers who sell us everything except what our bodies really need to be healthy.
Some would say this is a Catch 22. We can't have good economic health without healthy bodies, because if you are sick you cannot earn a living. The other side says you can't have good physical health if you lack the economic resources to make appropriate food purchases. Indeed, there is truth in both statements, however, that can be changed with a little sacrifice.
Here is an example: Many Black folks are lactose intolerant; yet we are deluged with "Got Milk?" commercials and milk mustaches on Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Venus and Serena Williams.
We are also very fond of ice cream. Not that Black people will stop drinking milk and eating ice cream, but if we would make one simple change by purchasing a healthier food alternative called ICE Supreme, we could put a dent in both sides of the argument.
ICE Supreme contains absolutely no dairy products or soy; it's a nut-based dessert made primarily from raw almonds. It can be eaten by diabetics because it contains no sugar or corn sweetener.
Ashiki Taylor of Atlanta invented and manufactures ICE Supreme and espouses "health and wealth" for Black people. "We must become more health oriented and entrepreneurial in our thoughts and actions," he says.
"When I decided to make ICE Supreme I did not have a lot of money to support it; what I did have was the drive, commitment, and experience of an entrepreneur. I also had my health; I was in good shape as a result of daily exercise, both mental and physical. I knew I would have to make sacrifices in order to achieve my goals with ICE Supreme, and as I reached those goals I knew I had to help create opportunities for others."
I have also written about Farley's Coffee, Compro Tax, and other Black businesses in my 15 years of writing this column, all in an effort to enlighten us and to stimulate economic empowerment among Black people.
By supporting companies owned by Black entrepreneurs who are conscious and committed to the uplift of our people, we can improve our lives, holistically, by living healthier lifestyles and by economically empowering ourselves through entrepreneurship.
In order to help our children make the appropriate lifestyle choices, we must provide those choices to them. We must continue down the path of good health through regular exercise as well.
Find a lifelong physical activity and keep it up. In addition, engage either as a consumer or an entrepreneur in a lifelong endeavor for economic health among Black people. Economics and health do go hand in hand.
James Clingman is the founder of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.