9.16.2014

Thawing Out The #IceBucketChallenge and Why Blacks Won’t Benefit


By Shareefah Muhammad
One man drops a bucket of ice water over his head and it all goes viral! With the sudden overnight spotlight on ALS  also known as “Lou Gehrig” disease, one must ask themselves, “From the popularity of the ice bucket challenge, who benefits from my participation and donation?”  

ALS, Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis, is a disease that involves degeneration of parts of the nervous system; it specifically affects nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord. As a result of this assault, it eventually kills the neurons. This affects motor neurons that are responsible for muscle movement and progressively leads to paralysis. Celebrities who have fallen victim to the disease include: Hall of Fame pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Senator Jacob Javits, creator of Sesame Street Jon Stone, boxing champion Ezzard Charles, NBA Hall of Fame basketball player George Yardley, pro football player Glenn Montgomery, musician Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter), entertainer Dennis Day, jazz musician Charles Mingus, former vice president of the United States Henry A. Wallace and U.S. Army General Maxwell Taylor.
A wealth of research has been conducted on the disease yet no cure or treatment has been discovered at this time. So who is really benefiting from this newfound “Icebucket” craze? Hopefully this is not a shocker. According to the ALS CARE Database, “60% of the people with ALS in the Database are men and 93% of patients in the Database are Caucasian.” Yes, you read it right, this is a disease that rarely affects the African American population. 

So why are we dumping our tens of thousands of dollars into something that we don’t even get much of a benefit from? With the hard earned monies African Americans make from their salaries, the “African American” dollar stays in our communities less than 24 hours and exits out into the hands of those who care not for our need, let alone solutions to our specific health challenges. [READ MORE]