African American computer scientist Lisa Gelobter (1971 – ) has played an integral role in bringing several internet technologies to market. Perhaps her most recognized project is developing the animation that is used to create GIFs. Gelobter previously worked as the Chief Digital Service Officer for the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration. She also worked as Chief Digital Officer for BET. Little is known about her background. Being a technology executive, she is likely very adept at keeping her digital footprint to a minimum! Gelobter is a 1991 graduate of Brown University. There she earned a computer science degree with an emphasis in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Many people are unaware that Nazi Germany studied the racist laws of the U.S. The Nazis took special interest in the U.S.’s southern Jim Crow Laws that codified and enforced racial segregation and discrimination. The Nazis had the racist practices of the U.S. in mind when they passed the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. The Nuremberg Laws were two different laws: the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law of the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. These laws sanctioned the persecution of Jewish people during World War II and the Holocaust. The Nazis debated whether or not to enforce similar Jim Crow laws but eventually decided that the U.S. laws did not go far enough. They concluded that Jim Crow was an appropriate strategy for the U.S. because blacks were already experiencing poverty and racial oppression. However, in Germany, Jews were viewed as being wealthy and powerful. Because of this, the Germans felt it was necessary to take more drastic measures.
Egyptian healer Imhotep is credited with discovering a scientific approach to diagnosis and treatment of mental health. His approach blended spirituality with mental health. Imhotep was born in the 27th century BC in Memphis, Egypt. He was second in command to Pharaoh Djoser. Imhotep was an architect, scribe, religious leader, astrologer and healer. He was so revered that after he was death, he was worshipped as a God.
Imhotep employed “temple sleep” to help people experiencing mental health distress. Sleep therapy was a combination of exploring spiritual meaning of dreams. Many of his approaches to health and medicine were documented in the Ebers Papyrus document. The document was written around 1500 BC and contained a chapter on mental health called the “Book Hearts”. However it it includes sources that date back as far as 3400 BC. The document also identifies depression as a condition of the The Ebers Papyrus foreshadowed today’s focus exploring the multiple ways that mental health is influenced/impacted by things such as gut health and the body’s other regulatory systems.
Ancient Egypt was also the place where the brain was given its name and its composition was studied. Imhotep’s findings existed over 2,000 years before those of Hippocrates who is credited with being the “father of medicine”. However, Hippocrates recognized the influence and accomplishments of Imhotep. Hippocrates described himself as a “child of Imhotep” meaning that Imhotep was a pioneer and trailblazer long him.
The wounds of racial trauma have deeply impacted people of color both individually and collectively. The word “trauma” is literally derived from a root word that means “wound” or “injury”. Racial Trauma is the manifestation of harm and injury that people of color experience. The Racial Trauma infographic shared in this blog post provides a definition of racial trauma and then highlights 4 ways that racial trauma impacts people of color.
Inequities and disparities are toxins planted with intention and inattention into the souls, soil, and systems within our communities. Our ‘strategies of choice’ in addressing inequities and disparities too often prioritize the comfort of the oppressor over and above the liberation of the oppressed.
The barber profession originated in ancient Egypt, where razor blades from as early as 3500 BC have been discovered. Barbers played important health care and spiritual roles. Many people preferred to remain clean-shaven to avoid skin diseases. It was also believed that evil spirits would enter the body through the hair and that the only way to remove the spirits was by cutting the hair. Barbers would also frequently perform religious ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms as well.
In the US during the 19th century, barbershops that were black-owned would often cater to white clientele exclusively because white patrons would not want to have their hair cut if the instruments had been used on black people. This was also true in the north. Following emancipation, black barbers began to serve both black and white clients. Over time, the barbershop would firmly establish itself as a place of community and connection for Black men. The number of barbershops slowly began to decline as education requirements licensure requirements increased.
Henry M. Morgan established Tyler Barber College in 1934, in Tyler, TX. It was the first national chain of barber colleges for African Americans. The school grew rapidly until close to 80% of all black barbers in America received training at Morgan’s schools. In 1934, Henry M. Morgan established Tyler Barber College, the first national chain of barber colleges for African Americans, in Tyler, Texas.
Located in northern Africa, ancient Egypt is considered to be a pioneer in the fields of medicine. The Egyptians were also very intentional about dental care. Hesy-Ra was the first recorded dentist and is regarded as a pioneer of some of today’s dental techniques. He was not only a dentist but also a physician and a scribe.
Hesy-Ra lived during Egypt’s third dynasty, around 2600 BC. He served under pharaoh Djoser. Hesy-Ra may be earliest physician and dentitst identified by name. He was given the title “Chief of Physicians and Dentists” by Pharoah Djoser. This title seems to indicate that dentistry was recognized as a specialty even back then. Ancient records reflect that a portion of Hesy-Ra’s dental practice focused on laborers who were building the pyramids. Records indicate that some of his treatment methods included drilling holes in the teeth of his patients. This is quite remarkable when we know that the first dental instruments to perform modern-day root canals were not invented until the 1830’s. The drilling procedures performed by Hesy-Ra would have been excruciatingly painful for patients because anesthesia had not yet been invented.
Hesy-Ra’s tomb was discovered by French archaeologists Auguste Mariette and Jacques de Morgan in Saqqara. Wooden panels in the tomb were inscribed with titles that denoted his official duties, including being a physician, dentist, and scribe. Hesy-Ra is also believed to be the first physician to speculate about the condition of diabetes. He observed that it caused “frequent urination,” which we now know is a primary symptom of the illness.
Detroit, MI is known for being an important stop on the Underground Railroad. You may not know that people were also enslaved in Detroit and surrounding areas. Many roads, schools, and places are named after wealthy slave-owning families. If you live in or near Detroit, you will recognize these names, Macomb, Campau, Beaubien, McDougall, Brush, Cass, Hamtramck, Dequindre, and Groesbeck Livernois, Rivard, and many others. From its founding in 1750, slavery existed during Detroit’s existence as a French, British, and then American settlement. The Burton Collection of the Detroit Public Library has an original ledger book of William Macomb. The ledger lists his property and includes over 20 enslaved individuals. The first mayor of Detroit, John R. Williams (two streets bear his name), also owned slaves along with priests of the Catholic Church in Detroit. The men who financed the Detroit Free Press were also former slave owners. The Free Press used its platform to support slavery prior to the Civil War.
People of African and Native/Indigenous descent were both enslaved in Detroit. Enslavement of native peoples occurred first. Slavery played an integral role in the relationship between European settlers and Native tribes. The Native system of enslavement involved taking captives to settle conflicts or build alliances. This would occur by women and children of rival factions being exchanged or given to confirm an alliance or settle a dispute. When the French arrived, they also adopted this practice to establish trade alliances with Native peoples as well. Native women were victims of labor trafficking and sexual violence. The enslaved were used as pawns to help bolster trading alliances between European settlers and Native tribes. Slavery continued to exist in the Northwest Territory (which included Michigan) even though it was abolished in 1787. Slave owners used loopholes or flat out ignored the law to maintain their ownership of the enslaved.
The Berlin Conference ignited the “Scramble For Africa.” Colonial domination and control of Africa’s economic resources, natural resources, and trade routes was the goal. The conference was convened on November 15 1884, and was comprised of 14 western powers. At the time of the convening, approximately 80% of the African continent remained under local control. The western powers seeking to gain control would establish fragmented boundaries developed to serve their interests. No African leaders were part of the Berlin Conference. By 1914, European colonizers had accomplished their goal. Africa was now divided into 50 countries mapped out across hundreds of indigenous groups and regions.
The new configuration forced indigenous Africans into poverty while colonizers became wealthy as their lands were confiscated, and they were forced to labor at meager wages to support colonial exploitation of natural resources. European leaders viewed Africans as inferior and barbaric. It reminiscent of the concept of manifest destiny, which was the belief that expansion of the US throughout American continents was justifiable, inevitable, and justified by God. 14 western powers were in attendance at the Berlin Conference. Countries in attendance included Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814 to 1905), Turkey, and the United States of America. France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal emerged as the major power brokers at the conference.