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This paper is a cultural interview of DP and her cultural heritage. Interviewed by Dawn Stump. The target audience is the rest of my Class, the purpose it to get a insight into the life and family heritage of my friend DP.
DP was brought up in a tightknit family. Her family was very large. She had numerous siblings, uncles, aunts and both set of her grandparents. She remembers being 5 or 6, just about everyone in her family lived in the same neighborhood as she. DP’s Grandfather was a Bishop of a Church in Cleveland longer then she has been alive. They spent a lot of time together. The entire family would meet for dinner on Sunday after church. She and her parents where at the church 4 days out of 7. She loved how close her family was. He grandmother was the “Boss”, but only when her grandfather wasn’t around.
Most African American families are run by the Head female. Unless your grandad is the Bishop of the church. She remembers having fun, even though her homelife was strict. There were rules to be followed and if the rules were not followed, there were consequences. DP could not do anything without someone in her family seeing or hearing about it. That went for all the kids in her family. If one got caught, they all got in trouble, “Guilty by association”, her grandad would say. They were role models for the community. DP loved her grandad more then anything. He was a strong, smart, God fearing man, and everyone in their African American community looked up to him. Her grandmother was a Strong Black woman. DP as she got older, followed what her grandmother taught her. DP feared no living up to her grandmother and grandfathers expectations.
DP had plenty of aunts and cousin to speak out when anyone was not acting appropriately. She sometimes lived in fear that she may do something wrong and she would disappoint her parents and grandparents. That formed her life from a young age. One she would regret and learn to love. Her family was big on Prayer and the healing power of prayer. We a church member was ill, they would go to that members house and pray with them and pray for them. Sometimes for days and days, even months. The witness the healing power of GOD. They have witnessed Doctors see the healing miraculous power of GOD, some doctors deny it and others embrace it. Patient rooms fills with praying visitors. The is a honored ritual/traditional type occasion that happens weekly in her family. They also pray for the Doctors and staff that care for their ailing member. The church raises its members that even though one maybe suffering, it is ok to accept that, because Jesus has gone to prepare a place in heaven for them, and those who believe in the everlasting life of Jesus Christ.
DP and her African American family do use Doctors to help them when they are ill, and to keep up with health maintenance. Back in the day DP states that her ancestors did not believe in the used of Doctors. They had their own doctors in the communities. Medicine men whom used herbs, spices, minerals, rituals and lay of hands on the ill with oil and prayers. If a member of the community fell ill then died, the church would have a funeral and celebrate the members life. They would have an open casket for viewing and a remembrance dinner afterwards. This is still done today. There are many rituals or practices used today. DP states that just lest weekend her mother made her a hottie toddy because she has a sore throat. DP believes that traditions are good, but God also made Doctors for a reason. She sees her family Doctor regularly. DP would rather find something early and do something about it versus not. She also prays about everything and every decision that needs to be made. She fears GOD and loves GOD more then anything and he will guide her way through life. He is the Center of her and her family’s life. Her son was baptized also recently. He was cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Washed clean of all sin. She will raise him the way she was raised with some small tweaks.
Mental illness is a big concern for the family. DP states that she will allow her son some freedoms. DP wants him to be able to make decisions, smart decisions about his future, with out feeling judgement. DP does not want her soon to feel how she did. She felt sometimes life was hard enough to live up to those standards set before her. She wants him to have a well-rounded life and for him to live it with no regrets. DP wants him to live a good life. She became a pastor when she was 16. She did follow her grandfathers foot steps. She states that only thing she regrets was not spending enough time with her parents. She spent more time with her grandparents then she did her parents. It wasn’t on purpose. She loved being with them and love doing Gods work. Still to this day, she has her own church. It is based in Canton. Her grandfather is very proud of her. Both of her parents died shorty before she graduated High school. She then went on to college, she also got married had had her son. She states she wouldn’t change a thing in her life except to spend more time with her parents. She spends a lot of time with her son. Teaching he they ways of Jesus and God the Father. He loves growing up in the church and having family around all the time. He looks forward to going to church on Sundays. He is also learning instruments so that he can be in the praise and worship group at church and one day run it. He is so cute at 5 years old. I asked her 10 questions when we finished her interview.
DP stated growing up with a lot of women whom cook. She learned to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen. She would help prepare dinner every Sunday after church for the family dinner. She loved the closeness of her family. While researching the barriers that can create barriers for African Americans and the healthcare system, I found a really good article that takes about 4 specific barriers. Perceived Discrimination, Medical Mistrust, Race Discordance, and Poor Communication. Some patients state that they have had bad experiences with their providers and never go back. Some have had lack of communication with their providers or think that a specific provider has mistreated them there fore claiming racism. DP talks about how bad some of her family members have acted out of sorts. Embarrassing themselves and the family that was with them. So they never went back to that facility. DP states that the mental health side of their family has witnessed these acts as well.
DP states that some of her family members do not see the diagnosis and refuse to take any medications for mental illness. Mental illness in prominent in the African American culture. How do mental health conditions affect the African American Community? According to www. NAMI. org, “ African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers” (National Alliance of Mental Illness, 2018). “According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population”.
Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:
African Americans are more likely to be victims of violent crime so they suffer from PTSD. African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition. There is a large amount of homeless African Americans. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition. “African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population”. “Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children”.
Different reasons prevent African Americans from seeking treatment and receiving quality care. In the African American community, many people misunderstand what a mental health condition is and don’t talk about this topic. “This lack of knowledge leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or some sort of punishment from God and African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with such conditions”. Many African Americans also have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, leading to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. Some may think of depression as “the blues” or something to snap out of. Don’t let the fear of what others may think about you and your problems prevent you or a loved one from getting better. This means that, even if we don’t talk about it, most likely we have one of these illnesses or know someone who does.
DP states that many African Americans mistrust health professionals in general and avoid accessing care. While you have a reason to doubt whether professionals will mistreat you or not, don’t let this deter you from seeking the care you need to get well.
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