“Highlighting Black history and food traditions, GARLIC & GREENS centers on participants with low or no vision because African-Americans are at a higher risk for sight loss from glaucoma, diabetes and hypertensive retinopathy. The good news is that these diseases can be prevented with a healthy diet and regular access to health care. While mainstream media often blames individual behavior for public health issues, GARLIC & GREENS encourages participants to engage in deeper reflection about the broad connections between cultural heritage, culinary traditions, food access, and wellness.” This is the way that GARLIC & GREENS describes its mission, because race-related health issues are often a result of structural inequalities, not just individual choices. The G&G project aims to focus on positive assets in order to avoid blame and to approach these challenges with a constructive attitude. But it’s also important to note that health risks connected to diet are serious threats, and they can be fatal. Today the world learned that Phife Dawg, a musician who was best known for his work with A Tribe Called Quest, passed away after many years of living with diabetes. His family released this statement, and as a result his health condition has been noted in many news reports of his death today:
“We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes.
Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.”
Phife Dawg (née Malik Isaac Taylor) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1990, when he would have been 20 years-old. On the 1993-4 song “Oh my God” Phife Dawg playfully refers to himself as the “funky diabetic.” More seriously, in Beats, Rhymes & Life, the 2011 documentary about A Tribe Called Quest, he said: “It’s really a sickness. Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”The dangers of excessive sugar intake have been discussed frequently in recent years (see “Is Sugar Toxic” in the New York Times). But to be clear, type 1 diabetes, which Phife Dawg had, is caused by genetics and other unknown factors. Type 2 diabetes is often linked to being overweight, and for that reason the American Diabetes Association recommends cutting back on high calorie foods like sodas and other sugary drinks. For more information on the different types of diabetes, see this guide from the US Department of Health and Human services: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/your-guide-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx
No matter what the cause of his death, Phife Dawg was a talented musician and an inspiration to many. He was taken away from us too soon, at the age of 45. Rest in power Buddy.