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Diversity in the Outdoors

One place you can pretty reliably not find black folks is in the great outdoors. Some folks are trying to change that…

BTW – BTx3’s Outdoor adventures this year are kayaking fishing, and at least one night camping on an ocean beach.

Diversity in the outdoors, one hashtag at a time

A conversation with Teresa Baker, founder of Hike Like a Girl.

TrailPosse is a series produced in partnership with The Trail Posse focused on the relationship between people of color and Western public lands.

During the past three years, Teresa Baker of Martinez, Calif., has organized some of the most significant events in the movement to diversify and improve inclusion in the outdoors: The African American National Parks Event, the Buffalo Soldiers Trail Retracing, the Muir Campfire Discussion on Relevancy and Inclusion in Outdoor Organizations, and the convening on Relevancy and Inclusion in Outdoor Organizations.

Her latest brainchild, Hike Like a Girl, a campaign to encourage females to take to the trails, solo or in groups, took place on May 14. The event followed a familiar formula: Working with partner organizations, Baker encourages people to engage in outdoor activities on a certain day (or days), then record, post and hashtag on social media to raise further awareness.

Recently featured as one of Patagonia’s Women Active Activists, Baker is a former high-school point guard and former trip leader for Outdoor Afro, a national network that uses meetups and education to encourage African Americans to get outside. She’s evolved into a one-woman force of nature. She says her mother didn’t like her “being defiant and going against the grain as a girl,” but adds, “My dad told me daily, that I could not back down to anyone or I would do it for the rest of my life. So he encouraged me to speak up and not be afraid to live my true life.” HCNcontributing editor Glenn Nelson recently caught up with Baker.

High Country News Most people of color don’t have a background in the outdoors growing up, but that wasn’t the case with you, was it?

Teresa Baker I was the only girl in a family of eight boys and was determined not to be outdone by anything my brothers did. So when they went hiking, I went hiking; when they played basketball, I played basketball. When they and the other guys in the neighborhood would talk trash about how girls weren’t capable of keeping up with guys, I’d prove them wrong. That’s where my love of the outdoors began. We lived directly across from a city park, so every day we were outdoors with other neighborhood kids, playing every sport imaginable, but my favorite by far was hiking.

I was part of an after-school program where we would go hiking in Tilden Park almost every week. We would also visit a ranch that belonged to the owners of the program. There we learned how to care for animals and the land. We would ride horses and hike the surrounding area. I absolutely loved it and to this day reminisce on how at peace I felt out on this ranch.

In 1978 my mother made me join the Girl’s Club, which I fought tooth and nail. I didn’t want to be around a bunch of girls who would probably not embrace my love of the outdoors. I was only partially right. In the summer of 1979, we went to Yosemite National Park for my first official camping trip. That was it for me; I fell in love with Yosemite and have remained so to this very day.

HCN What inspired you to start the African American National Park Event?

Baker I take off for Yosemite at the drop of a dime, no long-term planning needed. On one of my Yosemite visits in 2012, I started to take notice of how many African Americans I encountered. At the end of my second day in the park, I had not seen one other African American. I started to research people of color in our national parks – not just in visitation, but in the makeup of the National Park Service. The lack of diversity was surprising because I had never really paid much attention to it. The next year, I created an event to encourage African American communities across the country to get outdoors in a national park site during the month of June. The larger concern is that if we don’t start creating welcoming environments in the outdoors for people of color, in 20 years when the majority demographic in this country is black and brown faces, no one will be around to care about these open spaces. That’s the urgency of this issue.

The involvement I have now with the outdoors wasn’t planned. I simply wanted to create an event to get people of color outdoors. That turned in to talking engagements and written article after article about the lack of diversity in our national parks. That’s how I ended up doing this work, I feel it is my calling. It’s certainly my passion. And connecting with others who are just as passionate about this work has been an honor. I’m committed to the challenges that are ahead of me and will work diligently to bring about a change that will last beyond my lifetime.

HCN The Buffalo Soldiers are important to the history of both African Americans and the National Park Service because, as all-black troops in the 9th Cavalry Regiment and 24th Infantry, they were among the nation’s first park rangers, patrolling Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in 1899, 1903 and 1904. Their commanding officer, Capt. Charles Young, was the first African American park superintendent, at Sequoia in 1903. What led you to retracing the Buffalo Soldiers’ route from the Presidio, where they once were garrisoned, to Yosemite?

Baker After several visits to the Presidio of San Francisco, I started to learn about the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers. I read about their participation in the military and how they were actually stationed right here in the Bay Area. Then I saw a documentary about Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson and how he portrayed Buffalo Soldiers in the High Sierras. This was life-changing for me. Here I am, in love with Yosemite and concerned with the lack of African Americans in our national parks, then one day I find out the very first rangers in our national parks were African Americans. I was beside myself with pride and curiosity. In 2013, as an Outdoor Afro leader, I went to the Presidio and asked the park service if they would work with me on putting together a program to honor the Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio. They agreed and my commitment to telling their story began….Read the Rest Here

 
 

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Scientists – Corn Rows Will Make You Bald!

Bad news for wearers of this popular hairstyle!

This common style makes your hair fall out, scientists warn

A recent study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine offers evidence that not all hairstyles are created equally. According to a report from UPI, researchers have shown that women who pull their hair back tightly to make braids face a heightened risk of losing their hair later in life.

Scientists reviewed 19 studies and reported finding a strong association between hairstyles that pull the scalp and the onset of traction alopecia – gradual hair loss resulting from damage to the hair follicle. Traction alopecia is caused by prolonged and repeated tension on the hair root.

The study’s authors say traction alopecia is more common in African-American communities where tightly pulled hairstyles are popular – the study found that roughly one-third of African American women suffer from traction alopecia.

According to Dr. Crystal Aguh, an assistant dermatology professor at Johns Hopkins, “Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people but ironically, some hair styles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.” Hairstyles that can lead to traction alopecia include braids, tight ponytails, weaves, dreadlocks and extensions. Chemical treatments also influence the likelihood of traction alopecia.

But the news isn’t all bad – traction alopecia can be stopped and reversed if intervention comes soon enough. Researchers recommend alternating hairstyles between those that create tension on the hair root and those that ease the strain.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in Women

 

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Alzheimer Disease and Black People

Had up close and personal experience with this in my family, with more than one of my maternal side’s siblings coming down with it. With the dozens of doctors and researchers I talked to…None ever mentioned this.

African-Americans Need to Wake Up to the Danger of Alzheimer’s

The justified fear in the African-American community around medical trials is keeping us from beating a disease that affects us more than others.

Today we celebrate the civil rights movement, one of its beloved leaders, and our hard-won gains. Unfortunately, African-Americans are at risk of letting those gains slip through their fingers, along with their most basic civil right: to support their families, and themselves. Worse, they don’t even know about this threat. I’m talking about Alzheimer’s, and the dirty little secret that African-Americans are twice as likely to get it. Its consequences, as I have come to see first-hand, are simply catastrophic.

My beautiful wife, the food and lifestyle maven B. Smith is now well into the dreadful progression of stages from which, so far, no cure or effective treatment exists. I have become her round-the-clock caretaker, the hardest job I’ve ever known. And yet I’m luckier than most in my position: we live in a nice house, and we have money saved.

For the 5.3million Americans coping with it, and the roughly fifteen million more serving as full or part-time caretakers to those loved ones, Alzheimer’s is a curse that costs, on average, $100,000 a year. Make that $1 million over the disease’s average ten-year duration. Most African-American families struggling with Alzheimer’s simply can’t afford that. Having reached the middle class at last—thanks in large part to Dr. King and his movement—many are slipping back into destitution, the gains of a movement snuffed out, like so many candles in the dark, one by one by one.

The Obama administration has, at last, taken steps to address the gross inequity of funding for Alzheimer’s research versus other top killers. The budget for Alzheimer’s research will be boosted 60% in this year’s budget to $936 million. That’s still chump change compared to cancer ($5.1 billion) and HIV/AIDs ($25.3 billion), especially with 13.8 million Americans projected to get Alzheimer’s by 2050, at a cost to us all of $1.1 trillion. Yet, research is up, and promising drugs are out there.

The problem is that African-Americans may not benefit from that research. Why? In a word: Tuskagee. The infamous, decades-long, secret study of black men with syphilis that led to so many unnecessary deaths left subsequent generations deeply—and rightly—suspicious of medical trials. Result: hardly any African-Americans have signed up for new Alzheimer’s drug trials. If the disease affects African-Americans differently, who’s to say the new drugs will be suitable for them?

So on this day of civil rights celebration, I say to my fellow African-Americans: don’t be put off by a medical experiment long impugned and barred by law from reoccurring. Don’t squander the civil right to help cure a disease that disproportionately targets us. Sign up for Alzheimer’s trials, either by contacting the national Alzheimer’s Association or the Brain Health Registry. Join the fight.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter

 

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Senegal is Free of Ebola

The West African country of Senegal has managed to do something the US hasn’t despite all our vaunted medical facilities, science, and training…

Clear their country of Ebola.

Of course they are probably far to intelligent to have Faux News type conservatwits whimpering and wailing to the rafters getting in the way of the people who could contain the disease.

A view of the Capital City – Dakar

Senegal is free from Ebola, WHO says

The West African nation of Senegal is free of Ebola, the World Health Organization declared Friday, congratulating the country on the diligence that enabled it to repel the threat.

Senegal had only one case, a man who had entered the country by road from Guinea, where he’d had direct contact with an Ebola patient.

The government’s response included identifying and monitoring 74 close contacts made by the man for signs of infection.

It also introduced prompt testing of all suspected cases, increased surveillance at entry points to Senegal and nationwide public awareness campaigns, the WHO statement said.

The patient recovered from Ebola and tested negative for the virus on September 5, the statement said. He’s since returned to Guinea.

Since then, 42 days have passed — double the maximum known incubation period for the virus — without another case, allowing Senegal to be declared free of Ebola.

When the case was first detected, WHO treated it as a public health emergency it said, sending a team of epidemiologists to help local health officials and international partners such as Doctors Without Borders manage the situation.

“The most important lesson for the world at large is this: An immediate, broad-based, and well-coordinated response can stop the Ebola virus, carried into a country in an infected traveler, dead in its tracks,” WHO said.

WHO sounded a note of caution, however, given that Senegal shares a border with Guinea, a hotspot for the disease along with Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“While the outbreak is now officially over, Senegal’s geographical position makes the country vulnerable to additional imported cases of Ebola virus disease,” it said.

Wrestling is the National Sport of Senegal

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Africa

 

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Chocolate Heart Attack Prevention

Seems like every few weeks, scientists come up with yet another way tp stave off heart attacks. I suffered a serious heart event last year – so I’ve been on the lookout for ways to stave off another. A single glass of red wine a day has proven to be a deterrent to heart attacks, as has low daily doses of the miracle drug Aspirin. Filled up the wine cellar with Cabernets and Merlots…check! Got a discount pack of baby Aspirin from the local discount store and pop one every morning…check!

Move over red wine and Aspirin – it’s time to add dark chocolate to the list!

Daily ‘Dose’ of Dark Chocolate Might Shield the Heart

There’s more sweet news about chocolate and your health: A new study suggests that eating a bit of dark chocolate each day may cut the odds of heart attack and stroke in high-risk people.

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidant substances known to have heart protective effects. Until now, the potential benefits of dark chocolate on heart health have only been examined in short-term studies.

In the new study, Australian researchers used a mathematical model to predict the long-term health effects of daily consumption of dark chocolate among more than 2,000 people who had high blood pressure and what’s known as the “metabolic syndrome” — a group of conditions that increase a person’s risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Daily consumption was set at 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of dark chocolate.

None of the participants had a history of heart disease or diabetes and none were receiving treatment to lower their blood pressure.

The researchers determined that 100 percent compliance with eating dark chocolate every day could potentially prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people over 10 years, while 80 percent compliance could prevent 55 non-fatal and 10 fatal cardiovascular events.

Wait a minute! On a recent wine tasting date I sampled  a delectable vintage called Chocovine – which is made from French Cabernet and dark Dutch chocolate! This stuff is actually – at least to my taste buds – much better than Baileys!

Hmmm… Looks like I can combine my benefits here! Just have to find space for another case in the closet…

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Men, Women

 

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Michelle Obama to Lead Socialist Jumping Jacks World Record

The First Lady is continuing her healthy living campaign to encourage kids to be more healthy by doing more physical activity, eating right,  and exercise.

As with her sneak visit to Target last week, which was posited as a socialist plot by conservative bigots –  undoubtedly she will accused by conservative haters for picking “Socialist Jumping Jacks” for the kids to break the world record.

I mean 25,000 people actually working, at anything… Is anti conservative capitalism!

First Lady Aims for Jumping Jack Record

Michelle Obama is looking for at least 20,425 people to help her break a Guinness World Record next week. The first lady will lead hundreds of children doing a minute of jumping jacks on the White House’s South Lawn on Tuesday, kicking off a 24-hour challenge, AP reports. Groups around the country will join the effort to beat the record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. Event organizer National Geographic has more details.

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Saudi King Older, and More Frisky Than Thought

92? And still taking Viagra?

And smoking?

Dayam!

Some seriously strong genes in that Saudi Royal family.

King Abdullah looks much younger here than 92

Saudi King Was Popping Viagra at 92

 Saudi Arabia’s king isn’t letting age slow him down—even if he’s a decade older than the US thought he was. Even at 92, he hadn’t given up on romance, though he needed a little boost from Viagra, a WikiLeaks release shows. The US State Department telegram from 2008 says King Abdullah was born in 1916; at the time of the telegram, he remained a smoker and got regular hormone shots, it said.

The information in the telegram came from a Western health expert involved with the Saudi royal family, Ynet reports. The source was in Saudi Arabia to care for one of Abdullah’s wives, but in a mix-up, he got the king’s records. Before getting the telegram, the US had guessed that Abdullah’s age was between 82 and 87.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in News

 

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