Sunday, February 8, 2004

Black women told to help themselves

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SHARONVILLE - Relationship psychologist Robin Smith has a simple way for black women to improve relationships with others: concentrate more on themselves.

"Especially for African-American women, we put ourselves either at the bottom of our list or sometimes we're not on our lists at all," Smith told a throng of women Saturday at a conference on women's health education and empowerment.

"The whole point today is the talk about putting yourself back in the picture. It doesn't mean our men aren't important, but I was to talk about loving yourselves."

More than 1,000 black women were at the Sharonville Convention Center Saturday for the fourth annual "Universal Sisters Celebrating Health and Soul" event.

At the one-day, sold-out conference sponsored by Speaking of Women's Health, they discussed health problems and social pressures that plague black women.

In addition to screenings for glaucoma, heart problems, diabetes - diseases that occur at a high rate among black women - there were sessions on digestive problems and low-maintenance beauty makeovers.

Women sang along to "I'm Every Woman" with Grammy-winning Motown singer and songwriter Valerie Simpson of Sanford & Simpson. They heard former assistant surgeon general Marilyn Gaston talk about health problems such as obesity that are prevalent in black women.

"African-American women are dying at alarming rates from heart disease, diabetes, obesity," said conference organizer Karen Williams. "We want to bring out these health concerns before them."


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