As African-Americans in the United States of America we have a plethora of worries. Some of these worries are life in general — Can I pay all of my bills? Can I afford this car repair? etc. While others are specific to being Black — Will my race prevent me from getting this job? Am I being profiled in this store? Am I being pulled over because I’m Black?

With so much going on in our day-to-day lives, it’s no wonder our health often takes a back seat.

I’m a firm believer that stress manifests itself physically and mentally. And let’s be honest, being Black in America is stressful. Compound this with our tendency in America to live a sedentary lifestyle while eating high-calorie, salty or sugary foods, and you have a recipe for a medical condition — diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. Although the old saying when America gets a cold, Black America gets the pneumonia applies to economics, it rings true here. In general, America is unhealthy. However, several medical conditions from our unhealthy lifestyle disproportionately affect Black Americans.

People often lament the cost of healthy food. You pay now or pay later. Sure, buying junk food now may seem cheaper, but it won’t when you’re taking 20 medications 10 years from now.

I often hear the ignorant statement “When it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go” or some iteration of that sentiment. No, we can’t avoid death, but what about our quality of life? I want to do more than survive; I want to thrive. I want to live a long life with the ability to continue doing the things I enjoy doing.

Maybe my age makes me think we’re in a crisis. I celebrated a birthday this week, and I’m at the age where my peers are suffering from chronic conditions and some have died. It takes me by surprise when I hear that so and so has this or that disease. Then I remember when my parents, aunts and their friends were this age, and hearing their discussions about the illnesses people they knew had. It’s almost as if we think health issues are inevitable so why try.

We can do better. We must do better. Our lives depend on it.