By Robert Stitt
High cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer…what do these have in common? They are all very real health risks, and they are all health risks that many Black men do not get screened for. Larry Green is the facilitator for the African-American Prostate Cancer Support Group at Lincoln Community Center. He puts it plainly, “Men don’t get tested if we don’t think anything is wrong.”
According to Black Enterprise, there are other factors at play as well when it comes to Black men, such as “poverty, unequal access to healthcare, lack of education, stigma, and racism.”
Regardless of the reason for the lack of screenings, the results are the same: more Black men are being diagnosed with cancer and serious diseases in later stages when it is harder to mediate or cure and more likely to be fatal.
Dennis “Denny Moe” Mitchell of Harlem, New York, experienced first-hand how health problems can wipe out a family. He said that cancer took his father and a few of his brothers and sisters. In fact, his brother died just the day after his father died. “I watched how cancer works: it goes hard and it is relentless,” he said.
Cutting for a Cure is Mitchell’s answer to the medical problems of the Black community. His nonprofit organization brings medical screenings to the people if the people will not go to the screenings. Cutting for a Cure is a 48-hour “Health Fair and Haircutting Event” complete with celebrity stylists and performers.
The event will start on July 15 and culminate with a barber battle and battle rappers on July 17. During the event, members of the community can enjoy free haircuts, free health screenings, and information on diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
Mitchell wants people to know that health care doesn’t have to be absent in the Black community. “Anyone can put an event together and have screening trucks for a couple hours,” he said. Mitchell also understood that most of his patrons were Black men. “I realized that my barbershop, as an intrinsic part of my community, is one of the best platforms to spread awareness, and I wanted to use that platform to provide health screenings, along with entertainment.”