Joe Holder on Black History Month in the Health & Wellness Community
February is Black History Month, and at a time that it seems like our culture is ever more divided there is ample opportunity to look at the contributions that minority groups have provided to the storied history of the United States and the evolution of sports around the world. One must remember that when highlighting Black America, it’s not about simply emphasizing the transgressions that may have been imposed on that race. While that matters for context and healing, it is instead apt to understand how contributions made by people whose stories haven’t been fully told have created a world that is better for us all.
People like Otis Boykins, who patented 28 inventions in his career that included a regulator that improved the pacemaker, and former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin who masterminded the National Prevention Strategy health initiative. From the major contributions African Americans have made in STEM, and of course to sports as well, WHOOP would not be able to fully flourish if it weren’t for them.
With the rise of wearables and the benefits they can have on public health, WHOOP is determined to get their device to as many people as possible in an effort to use data to further public health initiative and research. It’s important to keep in mind here that the creation of a world that is better for us all is an obligation we must accept. It’s on us as WHOOP members, and the population at large, to then realize our ability to care for ourselves puts extra responsibility to make sure we get involved in the greater world around us to make a positive impact.
One of the pinnacle figureheads of contemporary Black History, Martin Luther King Jr., stood for the collective betterment of the population as a whole. It is easy to exist in an echo chamber, to get caught up in the metrics of “strain,” “sleep” and “recovery” and believe that’s all that matters. It does, but we have to realize our ability to track our well-being must extend to then improving those same stats for others.
During his Birth of a New Age speech in 1956, Martin Luther King Jr. said “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Eighty-two million people, over a quarter of the US population, have inadequate to no health insurance. Over 30 million have diabetes. Almost 170 million people in the United States are overweight or obese. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is among the highest in the world. Black men still have a lagging life expectancy. Race-based mistakes in diagnosis of medical conditions still remains an issue. This is a surging epidemic that must be examined as to why it is a prevalent issue of our time and what we can do to help improve health in the country.
I’ve been an avid fan of WHOOP for some time and am lucky to have them as a partner. I honestly shouldn’t be here. As a premature child, my health was called into question from the start. While I’m blessed to be alive, I still battle with certain health conditions. Despite all my athleticism, this always stays top of mind for me. WHOOP assists with this, making sure I get enough sleep so my heart rate stays in check, or not pushing too much on certain days where it is probably best for my body and mind to regenerate.
So the challenge this Black History Month is not to simply think of it as 28 days out of the year, but instead the opportunity to grow our minds, think about other people, and realize that we’re all part of the same cohesive thread where all contributions matter. But in order to make this a reality for us all, we have to assimilate this feeling of generosity and action every day. It’s why I am working on a non-profit to make sure that we never forget that service is the ultimate purpose of life. We have to make sure the good that we’ve gained also exists for others.
Just think of the prosperity we could all reap if all of us had the benefits of good health? Not just for the current moment, but future generations too.