The Racial Inequality Nobody is Talking About
Amidst the recent headlines of Black Lives Matter, the rallies for change, and the sadness over the inequality that persists in our communities – my mind has been focused in on a different kind of injustice.
I recently learned that in the United States, women of color (African American, Black, Latina, Native American, Asian, Asian Pacific Islander) suffer from a higher incidence of chronic diseases that have been linked to exposure to toxic chemicals. Lupus, uterine fibroids and early onset of puberty are significantly higher among these women and African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than all other ethnic group in the U.S.
The reasons are complex with many factors (genes, diet, geography, exposure to harmful chemicals) at play. While it is hard to prove causation and it is unlikely that any one thing can be blamed, we know that some of the most toxic beauty products are marketed to women of color. Products such as hair relaxers, makeup, acrylic nails and skin lighteners contain some of the most concerning chemicals used in cosmetics. “Each year, Black women spend about 9 billion dollars on beauty products alone, twice as much as any other ethnic group.”
Change starts with education. There are some dedicated people and organizations who are trying to shift habits and mindset and advocate for reform. One such organization, Black Women for Wellness, is “committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment and advocacy.” Women’s Voices for the Earth is another great non-profit that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health and communities. Beautycounter recently hired Madame Athena Chang to serve as their Director of Community. Athena and I recently chatted so I could educate myself further and learn from her expertise in this area. It is Athena’s “life work” to get safe products into the hands of African American and Latino communities.
I, too, am committed to finding ways to reach women of color with a message of hope. I believe we ALL deserve better. A recent study showed that switching to safer products had a significant positive affect within just 3 days. So changes do work.
Here are some things you can start doing today, regardless of the color of your skin, to lower your exposure to toxic chemicals and live better:
reduce consumption of processed food and drinks
go natural – skip toxic hair products
avoid products with added fragrance
read labels and look for safe alternatives
minimize the use of household and personal care products with toxic chemicals
look for nail polish that is at least “3 free” (5, 6 or 7 free is even better)
bring your own shampoo to the hair salon
simplify your beauty routine and use less
vacuum and mop your home to keep it dust-free
advocate for safe work environments
share this information with a friend, or two, or three…
Connect with me if you have questions or need help. I will continue to share information and simple tips via my blog and instagram. If you aren’t already following me, do it! www.instagram.com/thebetterhave
Start small and reach for better.