Walkin’ Over Medicine
Publication Year: 1998
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Series: African American Life Series
The material on African-American traditional medicine presented in this book spans a time period of more than 20 years. It is derived from my own community-based studies in Arizona and Michigan, work in two urban prenatal clinics, conversations and written communications with traditional healers, and...
from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Danforth Foundation, the Brush Foundation, and Michigan State University. Special thanks also go to Dr. Donald W. Weston, former dean of the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State; he...
1. I Saw a Shadow Leave Me
Summer 1982. A hot and sultry evening in South Carolina, that time of day that is charmingly called dusk-dark, and Jacie Burnes was impatiently waiting until full-dark. There would be no moon until after midnight; a good night for another attempt to escape. Her last chance; she knew that. She...
2. You'd Be Surprised What You Can Do with What You Have
The fact that she had been dead for 40 years was no barrier to the mother of Olive Parsons when she knew she was needed; she simply slipped into her daughter's spare room one night and lay down on the bed for a nap. Olive, past 80 now herself, became aware of her mother's presence when she got...
3. The Bible Says Watch as well as Pray
Anna Perry woke one night shaking in terror from the dream she had just had. She sat up and shook her husband, Tom, awake, 'There's going to be trouble in our family!" Their daughter Lila was in grave danger. The mother and two sisters of Lila's young husband had been in the dream, the three...
4. You Brought It on Your Own Self
On a very hot August night Anna Perry called me out to the front porch of her home; she had something to tell me that "the men" should not hear. As we sat on the old porch swing drinking iced tea she admonished me once again on the importance of burning used menstrual pads. I had...
5. To Be Healthy You Must Have Good Blood
One afternoon in 1984 John and Eva Thompson brought their infant daughter, Patty Ann, to the pediatrics clinic for her first immunizations. They were a new family to the clinic so Dr. Foster, the resident, began the interview by asking if there were any diseases in the families of the parents? "No," said...
6. So Many Different Types of Things Will Run Your Blood Up
One bright Arizona morning 64-year-old Amelia Lewis woke up unable to see and unable to use her right arm. As she had no phone she felt her way to the front porch and simply screamed until a neighbor came running. An ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital serving the indigent...
7. There's Somethin' About a Girl Gets a Disease Quicker than a Boy
A woman who is "on her period" should always wear shoes, Etheldean Mitchell was told by her mother when she was a girl in Alabama. If you are foolish enough to go barefoot at such a time "your veins will open up and allow poisons to enter the body/' She was also warned that she should
8. Some Slip Up, Some Plan, and Some Have 'Em to Have 'Em
Alice Jones was 17 and pregnant for the third time. Her first baby had been born prematurely when Alice was only 14, and he spent the first few weeks of his life in a pediatric intensive-care unit; now a healthy three-year-old, he shared a small apartment with his mother and grandmother. The following...
9. God Doesn't Want Us to Misuse a Child—But He Wants Us to Be Firm
Bernita Washington was home alone when her first baby came and she had no other alternative than to deliver the child herself. Nor did she have any help in the next few days after the birth:...
10. The Best Thing to Do Is Get Addicted to God
"Illiteracy helps superstitions to flourish/' folklorist Fanny Bergen commented tartly at the end of the last century, "and it is evident that a very moderate amount of education would banish the belief in hoopsnakes, in voodoo charms, and in lightning-shattered...
I have been studying African-American health beliefs and practices for most of my professional life. I have listened to the words of healers such as Sister Erma and Mother Delphine and the Reverend Hastings—unique individuals all, dealing daily with the afflictions of body, mind, and spirit among...
About the Book and Author