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From the Editor: Black history, cardiovascular disease and Valentine’s, oh my!

February 1, 2010


Photo by Vitaly Nikolaev

February is a pretty big month—Black History Month, American Heart Month, the Olympics and, of course, Valentine’s Day (aka Couples Awareness Day).  Why so much packed into the shortest month of all?  Allow me to offer some explanations as well as suggestions for observing all these events because, well, it’s the middle of winter and what else is there to talk about?!

Black History Month was originally a mere week in February, established by one Dr. Carter Woodson, a child of two slaves and Harvard grad who chose the date because of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays.  If you visit (a free online dictionary, encyclopedia and generally a comprehensive resource), you’ll see that February is full of important events that shaped black history, including when the 15th Amendment finally gave African Americans the right to vote.

When it comes to observing Black History Month, PBS programming is a wonderful resource.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. returns to the network with a second edition of the always fascinating African American Lives.  You can also see clips online, including comedian Chris Rock choking up when he learns from Gates that his own great-great-grandfather served in the Civil War.

Gates has also written and hosted the informative Looking for Lincoln (available online), which covers major topics in the president’s life including the history of the Civil War and emancipation of the slaves.  It also examines whether the legacy really matches with the man, as the debate over his character—which told him that “if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong,” but still left room for some racist views—continues.

American Heart Month was created to raise awareness and, with any luck, to fight cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in the United States.  You can observe American Heart Month by taking a moment to reassess your diet and exercise habits, especially if you have a family history that will work against you when you are older.

If I could offer any words of advice, from the perspective of one with such a family history, it’s to remember that any bad habits you have now will only be that much harder to correct when you are older and your doctor begins hassling you about your cholesterol.  Oh, and by the way, it is not at all unheard of for people in their twenties to have high cholesterol, the result of poor dietary choices and lack of exercise at any age.  It’s beyond unwise to take unnecessary risks with your health, and cardiovascular disease is often preventable.

On a less profound note, the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver on February 12th.  You should watch it.  I’ll personally be rooting for Sabres goalie Ryan Miller because, as you may know if you’ve read previous entries, I’m from Buffalo.  I’m also much more excited about figure skating than I probably should be, and if I’m going to make any predictions about anything, it would be that I’m expecting big things from the young female skater Mirai Nagasu (USA), who I’ve been watching for a few years now, and Japanese men’s figure skater Nobunari Oda.

And, lastly, the perhaps most socially loaded (though, really, least important) of what’s on this month’s calendar: Valentine’s Day.  As many will argue, it’s a largely commercialized day, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Valentine’s Day statistics, resulted in $29 million worth of cut roses in 2007 and 24.5 pounds of candy consumed by American’s in the same year (this may not be entirely unrelated to American Heart Month after all).  Commercialized contrivance or not, it’s still kind of a bummer when you don’t have a valentine.  So, let me leave you with this thought:

The best Valentine’s Day I ever had was when I was about fourteen-years-old.  Just about everybody seemed to be dating by then, and my best friend had just been burned by a young man who fell far short of acting like prince charming.  So, believing firmly that boys were stupid and ruining our good time, we decided we would be each other’s valentines.  We even went to Red Lobster.  It was awesome.

To quote an inarticulate and slightly crude phrase, “bros before hoes!”  Friends are always there to hang out with when things go wrong in the relationship world and bad dates are inflicted upon you, and in general there is little retrospective “why did I go out with him/her?” when it’s a friend you choose to spend your time with on Valentine’s Day.  But if you are still looking for love and feeling lonely on February 14, it’s a fact that only a bit more than half of the population over 18 is actually married.  Even excluding the amount of people in long-term unmarried relationships, that’s a whole lot of single people to choose from.

This could be your lucky year.

—keito, The Editor
Febuary 1, 2010

  1. Julienne permalink
    February 3, 2010 3:21 pm

    Kudos to the US Government for keeping records of Valentine’s Day expenditures. Brilliant. (LOL also to “couples awareness.”)

    I second the love of Dr. Gates & the PBS Series. I’ve also done some genealogy work and the results are always interesting!

  2. February 18, 2010 11:04 am

    good info .. I am very interested with your article …


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