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The Din of Silence

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Lying in bed, unable to sleep, thoughts race through my mind. Those things that keep me awake are probably no different from those things that hundreds of thousands of small business people have contemplated for decades before me.

Second guessing decisions that resulted from many hours of deliberation with others and in your own mind; decisions and conclusions that seemed so hard to come to in the light of day are now so easy in the cool, dark, quiet of night.

For me now, much of it is academic; elementary even.

How could there be a question of the importance of addressing the healthcare needs of Black men? How can those who have resources, overwhelming resources at their disposal be so reluctant to attempt to improve health outcomes for African American men?

How could there be this supposed concern over health disparities and bridging the gap that exists between Blacks and Whites and there not be a rush to do the very basic thing that could have a huge impact in the quest to reduce disparate conditions – provide information?

In this dark, quiet room, I see the light. It is all a sham. Sadly, I think, no one really cares.

To their credit, there are some institutions and some courageous individuals who have shown they care. Locally we are fortunate to have Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare; the City of Milwaukee Health Department and its committed leader, Bevan Baker. Another tremendous partner is the American Cancer Society.

While they have answered the call, they need help. They shouldn’t be the only ones. There should be a cast of thousands working to defeat this monstrous problem.

We need help, Black men.

I don’t place the onus on others alone, we must help ourselves. One fact has become increasingly clear to me: if we don’t care about our health, no one else will. We have to make a noise about this issue or silence will continue to rule the day.

We have to be our strongest advocates and then others will see that we are serious about this issue.

Black men shouldn’t suffer as they do. We should not be at or near the top of every list of every leading cause of death – medically – in this country. We simply should not be.

Much of the reason for our condition is due to a lack of information. Information is so powerful and today it is so plentiful. It can be inexpensive, in fact, free, yet so elusive.

Not unattainable, but elusive.

With today’s many modes of transmitting and receiving information, there is no reason that a community should lack for it. Those who have the means to support efforts to inform and enlighten have a moral obligation to open the channels of communication so as to reduce the level of suffering brought on by sickness and disease among African American men and all people.

What I am suggesting is not outlandish or beyond the reach of those who can and should help.

The din of silence is painful to my ears. So little is said, in a positive way, to address this problem. To hear people in positions of authority in the healthcare community say that, “African American men are not their target demographic…” is shocking to me and I cannot accustom myself to it.

I will not accept the notion that Black men are merely a market to be ignored; unworthy of the care and concern of people in an industry that is supposed to care and be concerned.

They might wish that those of us who knock on their doors or ring their phones and send them emails would just go away. But we won’t. We can’t. Our survival depends on our vigilance. 

I was encouraged during a recent trip to Chicago where Brain Brawn & Body participated in the United Negro College Fund’s Empower Me Tour when a young man came to our booth and said, “Brain Brawn & Body, the three things I care about most, my mind and intelligence; I love to work out to improve my body. I love being healthy."

His remarks captured the essence of Brain Brawn & Body and even as a high school student, he gets it. Maybe the effort we’re beginning won’t be in vain. Maybe this next generation will sleep well at night knowing that their health is taken care of.

Let me hear what you all think.


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Eric Von is a former radio talk show host and a publisher of Brain Brawn & Body ( You can contact Eric at


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Guest Sunday, 25 February 2018