Minister Louis Farrakhan

Ending the Health Care Crisis

By Minister Louis Farrakhan | Last updated: Jun 13, 2004 - 11:15:00 PM

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[Editor’s note: The following text is taken from “A Torchlight for America” by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, published 1993.]

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.

Minister Louis Farrakhan

The greatest gift that we have been given is the gift of life. The essence of our very being is housed within this magnificent creation of flesh and blood known as our bodies. Unfortunately, we live in a society that misdirects us and misinforms us in such a way that we place our own bodies at risk. We take care of our clothes, our pets and our material possessions better than we take care of our own bodies.

Knowledge is the principle resource that can help us take better care of our bodies and our health. God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, has given us directions for taking care of our health. However, we live in a society that is in opposition to the directions from the Giver of life, and as a result we suffer.

It is sad that buying material possessions is valued more than getting a simple yearly check-up by a competent doctor. It is sad that watching television several hours a day takes precedence over scheduling a few minutes of exercise that would help keep our bodies and our minds fit. It is sad that we put more emphasis on going to movies and listening to music than feeding our minds through the reading of proper books and literature. And it’s a tragedy that we overeat, eat the wrong foods, smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol and take an excessive amount of pills to cope with life’s stresses, instead of developing the core values and self-control to protect ourselves from these addictions.

Here again, the airwaves can be used to promote a healthy lifestyle among the people.

We are living relatively short lives as a result of our careless lifestyles. Sixty to 70 years is the life span of a typical American, and if we are fortunate to live even that short period, our lives are still riddled with every type of disease.

The fact is that 1/3 of all people in America will get cancer in their lifetimes, and the majority of those who do get cancer will die within a short period after diagnosis. This is just one of the many sad facts resulting from our lack of knowledge and general disrespect of life.

According to the Bible, we live in a world that is called “death.” The lifestyles of the people reflect this world of death. This world of death is caused by rebellion against Allah (God), Who is the source of good and life.

The lifestyles of the people reflect this world of death. In Proverbs it reads, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Most of us believe our lifestyles are correct, and we have prided ourselves in the lifestyles we live, no matter how degenerate they may be, according to the standard raised by Almighty God.

“Health United States 1990,” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides statistics which clearly illustrate that the lifestyles of the American people pave the way toward early and unnecessary death.

Of all the countries in the world, the life expectancy of the American people, in a land of power and plenty, ranks 16th for women and 22nd for men. Japan ranks first for both sexes. This is a shame. U.S. citizens, male and female, live only 60-70 years, and Blacks trail Whites in life expectancy across both sexes. So, if America is 16th for women and 22nd for men, and as Black men and women, we trail further behind them, then as a people in a land of power and plenty, Blacks are in a condition virtually no better than the worst Third World countries in terms of health and longevity.

Two million Americans lose their lives each year, and more than 250,000 of those deaths are among Black people. Our death rates are disproportionate when compared with those of Whites across most of the leading causes of death.

The leading cause of death for Blacks and Whites are: heart disease, cancer, hypertension and cerebrovascular disease, accidents, homicide and legal intervention, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, lung disease, AIDS, cirrhosis and liver disease and suicide.

About half of all deaths, or a million lives each year, are accounted for by heart disease and cancer. In every different cause of death, the death rate for Blacks is, on average, about 55 percent greater than death rates for Whites.

The No. 1 killer for all Americans is heart disease. The death rate from heart disease is 30 percent to 60 percent greater for Blacks than for Whites, with heart disease claiming nearly 100,000 Black lives each year. I would propose that the high level of heart disease is, in part, the body’s response to stress from America’s loss of power and prestige in the world, and particularly the decline of America’s economy. I would also propose that the high level of heart disease among Black people, in part, reflects the inordinate degree of stress due to the pervasive racism that we live under each day. These propositions are exactly in accord with the scripture wherein it reads, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth…” (Luke 21:25-26)

Approximately one million people develop cancer each year, and 1,350 die each day from some form of the disease. As with most causes of death, the death rate for cancer is highest among Black males, whose rate is 44 percent higher than White males. The leading type of cancer for males is prostate cancer, with new incidences 30 percent higher among Black males than among Whites.

Overall, Black women die from cancer at a rate 19 percent greater than White women. However, the rate of new incidences of cancer are actually higher for White women. Women are particularly vulnerable to breast cancer with incidences among Whites 16 percent higher than for Blacks.

Rates of death for hypertension and cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza, cirrhosis and liver disease all are higher for Blacks, particularly Black men. In fact, the death rate for Black males is nearly double that of White males for these diseases.

Most dramatic is the disproportionate number of Black males who die as a result of homicide and police intervention. Twenty-five to 40 Black men are killed and murdered each day, which is more than the total number of White men who are either killed or murdered each day. A Black man is seven times more likely to die from street violence, including confrontations with the police, than a White male.

Even among women, Blacks are four times more likely to die from street violence than Whites. And street violence is the No. 1 killer of young Black adults, ages 15-44. Approximately 59,000 American soldiers died in the nine years of fighting in Vietnam. It is said that 35 percent of those deaths, or about 20,000 of the casualties, were Black. But each year, over 10,000 Blacks lose their lives to street violence. So, in the same nine-year period, we lost nearly five times as many Black lives in the streets of America as in Vietnam. This would suggest it’s safer to grow up in a war zone than it is in the inner cities of America.

We could easily conclude, from these statistics, that all of our lives are in peril, and deeper, we could conclude that there is an assault on the Black male. The Black male is walking more deeply into the valley of the shadow of death than any other member of American society, which means that Black women are more frequently becoming widows and without their male counterparts.

When we consider the number of Black men incarcerated, jobless or on drugs, there is no wonder that there already exists a preponderance of females in the population over that of males. If the trend in Black male death rates is not reversed, the Black male will soon be extinct, and the Black female will be left as prey in the hands of men who do not love her, and only wish to continue to use her.


So, we are suffering, and in terms of health, the only way we can come out of this is with the proper use of knowledge that will allow us to prevent 90 percent of the sicknesses that we are dying from.

We need to understand that we have been trained in a self-destructive way of behavior and that we are caught up in a vicious cycle of death. Our lifestyle is really a “deathstyle.” We all have to die. This is assured. But our time of death, in most cases, reflects the personal decisions of each individual. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death, and as long as we pursue the ways of this world, wrong over right, falsehood over truth, wealth over health, we will pay the price.