RIALTO, Calif.—A special summertime event was held to empower Black, Latino and Indigenous men with the tools needed to usher in a new man equipped with knowledge, power and action. It was a special time to focus on health awareness for boys and men.
The event took place in Rialto, Calif., home of Muhammad Mosque No. 97. Mayor Deborah Robertson sponsored the event titled “Creating a Healthy Manhood: Conversations About Men; Talking with Boys and Men About Being Men.” The main objective was to emphasize the importance of becoming more knowledgeable and proactive about the health condition of Black, Latino and Indigenous men in today’s challenging society.
Through various workshops, participants engaged in discussions regarding the present mental, physical and emotional health conditions of men, factors that have caused these conditions, and what should be done to improve the prevailing decline in their health status. Workshops were led by professionals and paraprofessionals who are devoted to helping improve the quality of life of Black, Latino and Indigenous men and boys by sharing researched and practical information that would enable them to adopt behaviors that encourage a healthy lifestyle and change behaviors that are contrary to or impede their good health. Resources were also shared with participants.
Several members of Mosque No. 97 attended the June event and were led by Student Minister Kareem Muhammad. Two members were workshop leaders, one was an assistant workshop leader, while the remaining participated in workshop discussions.
There are a variety of illnesses today that adversely impact health and well-being. What is quite alarming are the high percentages of critical and fatal illnesses plaguing the Black community, outnumbering the degenerative condition of all other racial and/or ethnic groups in the world and particularly, in the United States of America. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in February 2011 African Americans made up only 13.6 percent of the total population of the United States, approximately 40 million individuals; (currently, 14.3 percent; U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts, 2020). Black people are presently leaders in the most common, critical and fatal illnesses that exist; with Black men leading the group and Latinos following.
Sister Khadijah Muhammad, a physician assistant, led a workshop on sexually transmitted diseases and how condoms are not the answer, but rather abstinence and obeying the Laws of God. She stated that HIV among Black people made up to 42 percent (15,305) of the 36,801 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. and dependent areas. Overall, cases have declined from 2015 to 2019.
She also addressed prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and colon cancer; emphasizing that Black men are leading in prostate cancer for reasons science has not been able to explain. She also said testicular cancer is found in men as early as 15 to 35 years of age. Although this cancer is common in Caucasian men, Black men have a higher mortality rate due to not being diagnosed until the cancer has progressed to late stages.
Sister Khadijah added that these cancers are due to the consumption of animal proteins that are loaded with synthetic hormones that secrete estrogen, which causes cancer. Also eating processed foods, smoking, indulging in alcohol and stress are contributing factors that put our Back men at risk of cancer. She encouraged them to get tested to know their numbers like other cultures do. Buying organic animal protein, eating less “red” meat, drinking less or avoiding the so-called healthy red wine, and eating one meal a day will add more years to one’s life!
Sister Khadijah encouraged the men to schedule their yearly physicals, labs, and colonoscopy starting at age 45, so that they may know their numbers, and be an active participant in their healthcare.
Brother Kasib Muhammad, who works with the criminal justice system, led the workshop titled “When They (Police) Pull us Over.” He stated the workshop was very informative and showed that we have professional Black men in all walks of life.
Sister Betty Muhammad assisted Dr. Kadir in leading the workshop on “Men of Color: How People See Us/ How We See Ourselves.” She shared information from a survey she conducted on “How Black Women Viewed Black Men.” She also, suggested that we become better keepers of each other, helping each other with our families, unite and support our economic, health and educational efforts.
“The men’s conference was a blessing to be able to see men of different ethnicities, different faiths, different work forces come together to try to preserve the functionality of man and a society, to see people trying to move forward in good stature and produce healthy fathers, healthy husbands (mentally and physically); and to secure their position in a world full of sin, filth and debauchery,” added Student Minister Kareem.
“So, for the conference to be able to have such energy, such vitality and to get people to think anything of positive today was just a blessing,” he said.
Brother Billy Muhammad, a longtime student minister and 54 years a pioneer in the Nation of Islam, thanked Mayor Robertson for having the vision to bring various segments of our community together to achieve a positive goal.
Mayor Robertson received accolades from attendees, and proclaimed, “It was a joyous occasion with positive feedback and discussions at the end of the event.” She thanked the presenters and the workshop participants for being a part of something that was so inspiring to all. “It was great to see so many in the room willing to sit down and bring our collective thoughts together,” she said.
—Submitted by Betty Muhammad, Student Protocol Director, Mosque No. 97