By Dr. Angelo Williams, Deputy Director CBHN
She died at 43. Complications due to congestive heart failure and a heart valve virus weakened her heart, she had an arrhythmia, blood stopped flowing to her brain, she was declared dead February 27, 2013. Unfortunately, she has become a statistic. Angelique’s death falls into a set of facts that display a set of afflictions suffered by African American women in general. Heart disease is one of the top five killers of African American women who also die ten to twenty years before their white counterparts.
What would we have done with twenty more years? We’d laugh. One look and she had me in stiches, laughing uncontrollably at a joke no one else on earth could understand. 42 years together. We liked the same music (Prince), some of the same food (Penne and Sauce), all the same movies (Casino) and we’d survived a childhood that was, in retrospect, tumultuous. She was my big sister. She taught me how to read and write. She fought my battles and until thirteen Angelique literally spoke for me. My biggest fan. The one that believed in me. Twenty more years? I’d settle for twenty more minutes, twenty more seconds.
The night before she died she was at her daughter’s track meet. It was freezing cold outside. I begged her to stay in the car. “But I can’t see her run from the car Angelo.” She gave me that big sister look and opened the car door. Before she stepped out she turned back, “And I want her to see me watching her run.” Like most African American mothers, she lived for her children, sacrificed for her children, went without for her children. Her final act on earth was for her children. Noble. But there were a few things Angelique Yvonne Williams needed to do for herself, that needed to be done for her, that may have created more supportive conditions for family care and self-care.
This blog is dedicated to documenting Angelique’s voice and the health issues and echoes of similar conditions facing African American in California. We’re inviting you on this journey as well. Tell your stories, whether its here in response to this blog or in person at one of our three remaining town halls or our conference in Los Angeles, February 12, 2018. These stories and your stories are the data we want to begin to create a Black Health Agenda. Some of the solutions will be personal and require us to do things differently, to eat differently, to exercise differently. Some of the solutions will require legislation at every level to create the conditions in community for the best possible health outcomes. All of these solutions will come from you, from us, for us, by us. Hope to hear from you or see you soon.
Dr. Angelo Williams is the Deputy Director of the California Black Health Network and brother of Angelique.