Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison
Black women carry the trauma of systemic racism and serving other people before taking care of themselves, and it's killing them, say GirlTrek founders Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison. Dixon and Garrison give their Brief but Spectacular take on mobilizing black women to save their own lives.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, another installment of our weekly series Brief But Spectacular.
Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison are the founders of the nonprofit GirlTrek. It’s part of their mission is to reduce the leading causes of preventable death among African-American women.
T. MORGAN DIXON: Black women are dying faster and at higher rates than any other group in American from obesity-related diseases.
We carry the trauma in our bones from systemic racism. We carry the trauma in our bones from serving other people before we serve ourselves, and that has to stop now.
So, GirlTrek asks women to reclaim 30 minutes a day to their own personal self-care and to be a freedom fighter for themselves and their communities.
VANESSA GARRISON: That.
VANESSA GARRISON: I am grateful, like many black women in this country, to have been raised by a village of black women.
My grandmother and my aunties stepped in when my mother wasn’t available to care for me. And in that stepping in, they sacrificed so much. And I lost my grandmother at 66 years old to a heart attack. I have lost two aunts before the age of 60.
The crisis is taking the women from my family at an age that just feels very unfair to me.
T. MORGAN DIXON: GirlTrek is the largest health organization in the country for black women. We are reclaiming the streets of black neighborhoods, one woman at a time. Our goal is to rally one million black women to walk to save their lives.
VANESSA GARRISON: Eighty percent of black women are over a healthy body weight; 53 percent are obese. More than two-thirds of black women get little to no leisure time, physical activity.
And the most heartbreaking of all, one in two black girls born in 2,000 are projected to get diabetes, unless levels of activity or diet changes.
T. MORGAN DIXON: You know there’s a hashtag #trustblackwomen. And I would encourage you to do that, because black women from Alabama, to Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole, all the way back to Anita Hill, have been like charting the way forward for social change.
VANESSA GARRISON: For the record, black women love the way they look, and black women are extraordinarily beautiful. And we come in all shapes and sizes.
But black women are oftentimes hiding from a lot of the things that they have experienced, and our bodies have experienced a lot of trauma, and we do not have a lot of extra time in our lives to exercise.
It’s not a woman’s individual decision to wake up every day and say, I don’t want to exercise. It’s actually, I’m working two jobs to put food on the table, I’m taking care of my children, I’m being a loving mother, I want to give love to my spouse.
And then, in all of that, where do I then find the time to prioritize myself? So, GirlTrek, for those women, is instructional. Every single day, we give women first the permission, second, the language, and then third the practical instructions.
How do you carve out time for yourself every day? How do you communicate to your friends and your family that you should be a priority? What do you do when you have the 30 minutes for yourself? How do you knit all of those things together, so that it benefits you, your family, and your community?
My name is Vanessa Garrison.
T. MORGAN DIXON: And I’m Morgan Dixon.
VANESSA GARRISON: And this is our Brief But Spectacular take…
T. MORGAN DIXON: … on mobilizing black women to save their own lives.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Remember that, GirlTrek.