of all medical ailments being high in the Black community like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, the church can be instrumental in helping to de-stigmatize preventative services and encourage healthier lifestyles. Imagine if my dad had heard that message.
EBONY: It almost seems the church is leading us back to the days of segregation when Black doctors knocked on the doors to provide us with care. Do you think we’re coming full circle?
PVG: In preparation for the film I was reading a lot of W.E.B. DuBois and he wrote extensively about how our churches were the cornerstones of numerous Black public institutions during the early 20th Century. Black churches may need to go back to that, to address inequalities in our health care system. Why can’t churches have clinics in the same way that so many have charter schools?
Embracing science and the faith is a cultural shift for us, where we often hear “let go and let God." That statement excuses us from doing the work that could heal. This also applies to our support for local agencies that serve our communities. I’ve never seen a collection plate passed during a church service to support a local community- based HIV/AIDS organization. I hope I soon will, soon.
Derek Spencer, Executive Director of the Jacques Initiative, an HIV-treatment program at The University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, told us that through [the film], we are documenting examples of non-traditional medical environments, which could be the future of health care in underserved communities. In many ways, Black churches are becoming a gateway to HIV-prevention and care services, through strategic community partnerships and creating a space where HIV-testing is nothing out of ordinary.
EBONY: What did you learn about the Black church through “The Gospel of Healing”? How are the church and Black Christians evolving?
PVG: There’s no such thing as ONE black church. We don’t all worship the same as Black people. We have different denominations because of varying theological interpretations and worship practices, but there is a need for all churches to do something to increase awareness, encourage testing and eliminate stigma and fear associated with this disease. All churches have a responsibility to improve whole person, in this life as well as help us get to the next life.
People are looking for messages to help us in this life and to become healthy and whole.
Jamila Aisha Brown is a freelance writer, political commentator, and social entrepreneur. Her entrepreneurship, HUE, provides consulting solutions for development projects throughout the African diaspora. You can follow her on Twitter and engage with HUE, LLC.