Me and My Blog
Let's Move! Ada and I are headed to Montgomery, Alabama. Returns to Alabama are always delicious homecomings for me. My father and his father were both born near Selma. And my husband’s mother’s family is from Tuskegee.
We love Tuskegee. And that is why two years ago when I was out on book tour with my third novel Rebel Yell I was overjoyed to accept an invitation for a two day visit that included both classroom teaching, a public lecture, a visit with the Tuskegee’s elegant First Lady, and a reception hosted by the local chapter of the Links, Incorporated—a chapter my husband’s grandmother had been a dynamic member of for years. The visit brought unexpected sadness with the joy.
I found myself in a classroom looking out at a room full of smart young black women too many of whom were larger than I was—and that day I weighed over 225 pounds! I decided then and there I was going to solve my weight problem for myself and share the solutions I found with my community.
I’m headed back to Alabama with a simple message. Black women in America must commit to getting under 200 pounds. We need to do it by walking eight miles each week, sleeping eight hours each night, and drinking eight glasses of water each day. And all of America needs to support this effort by acknowledging that a ten percent reduction in weight makes a fifty percent reduction in diabetes risk and is therefore significant AND black women don’t get fat because we are lazy—we get fat because we are too tired. That’s not the whole truth but it’s a big hunk of it. If you want to know my whole view of the truth you need to read my novel Ada’s Rules.
How do we get women who don't want to think about their weight and blood sugar to think about their weight and blood sugar? How do we get women to make better food choices for their children and the children in their community? How do we get folks out walking daily? Maybe we do it by getting them to read a "romance novel" about a black preacher's wife struggling with the very same problems.
Allow me to present: Ada's Rules to be published by Bloomsbury USA April 24, 2012. (Bloomsbury UK and Australia are bringing it out in July.) This novel attacks the diabetes epidemic in the African-American community with a unique one, two, three punch: 1) re-inventing soul food; 2) utilizing cutting edge science; 3) taking the message to middle-aged middle class and poor women via a popular but before never before used medium—the romance novel.
Three out of four black women in America is seriously overweight. One in four black women over the age of 45 in America has diabetes. They used to say in Memphis there was a liquor store and a church on every corner. Now the saying goes there's a liquor store, a church, and a dialysis center. Ada's Rules presents 53 simple rules that can change that reality.
But the big three are what I call the 8-8-8. Walk 8 miles. Sleep 8 hours. Drink 8 glasses of water. Save lives. And save the country over a hundred billion dollars a year in diabetes related illness.
The complexities of black women and size began in the plantation south. Our First Lady Michelle Obama has provided extraordinary leadership in undoing this problem. Mrs. Obama has brilliantly focused on children and the possibility that helping our children we will help ourselves. I am focusing on grown black women and young black women. We are all in this thing together trying to undo what must be undone—the war that is waged on black women’s bodies in the form of too much work, too poor nutrition, too little positive movement, and too little respect.
My grandmother, we liked to say, was big as three houses. She weighed near to three hundred pounds. I weigh under 200. And my daughter she’s fit, fine, and under 150 and that’s moving in the right direction.
From deep in the stroke belt,