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Ebony OA Bay Area Intergroup of Overeaters Anonymous


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About Ebony OA


The Beginning

This website was started around 1998 to reach out to other African American members in the fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous and to African Americans who even now suffer from the disease of obesity along with other eating disorders.

This website is a result of a desire to change the demographics in the rooms of OA so that African Americans are as equally represented as whites in meetings.

The ultimate goal of this website is to decrease obesity related deaths and deaths from other eating disorders in black communities.

The site is inspired by the founding members of Alcoholic Anonymous who in those days knew of the geographical limitations of outreach to those still suffering, but did not limit their vision of outreach and encouraged those eager to recover to persevere...

"So our fellow worker will soon have friends galore. Some of them may sink and perhaps never get up, but if our experience is a criterion, more than half of those approached will become fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. When a few men in this city have found themselves, and have discovered the joy of helping others to face life again, there will be no stopping until everyone in that town has had his opportunity to recover -- if he can and will."

"...Still you may say: 'But I will not have the benefit of contact with you who wrote this book.' We cannot be sure. God will determine that, so you must remember that your real reliance is always upon Him. He will show you how to create the fellowship you crave."

AA Big Book, "A Vision for You"

If you have happened upon this website it may not be by chance.

Thank you to all who have visited this site and I hope it has helped in your recovery.

January 1, 2003

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History of Ebony OA Meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area

The ingenuity of Ebony OA or black focus meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area came from others in the local district who long before I arrived took the initiative to create and sustain Overeaters Anonymous meetings geared toward blacks and African Americans recovering from compulsive overeating and other eating disorders and I thank them for listening to the directions of a Higher Power.

I write this brief essay because people have the misconception that I started this whole thing but I didn’t, God moved many people to take action on a need and desire to share recovery with members of their community.  

I’m told sometime in the nineties black women and men in the Bay Area acted on a group conscience possibly driven by a need to fellowship not only with the big OA Family but also to form “…groups of persons who can readily identify with fellow OAers with similar attributes” and they not me coined the name Ebony OA, my predecessors got these meetings going, not me!   

But face to face Ebony OA meetings began in San Francisco after my program was enhanced by attending a black focus meeting in the East Bay in which I’d make the weekly Saturday afternoon trek by car or public transit to participate in meetings where I felt uninhibited and free to express underlying issues.  I loved these meetings so much and longed for one close by.  

After releasing a substantial amount of weight I became a program of attraction to a professor of black Health at one of the local universities who approached me and suggested I start an Ebony OA meeting in San Francisco which I pondered with much trepidation.  Encouragement from my black sponsor finally got me over the initial fear and we began meeting in a black neighborhood in 1996 with some success for about two years amid an average of ten members in attendance.  

The meetings ebbed and flowed but today there are five successful special emphasis meetings with an average attendance of six or seven and who have released significant amounts of weight as part of a desire to stop eating compulsively.  

I later created the Ebony OA Website around 1998 launching these special focus type groups into Cyberspace and in so doing merely followed a trend that had well be established in the area long before I came onto the scene.  

I’m happy to see this trend currently manifested throughout other 12 Steps Fellowships as evidenced by the excerpt below from AA’s Monthly magazine, the Grapevine:  

In AA, we submerge our differences to focus on alcoholism as our primary problem. But this doesn't dismiss the notion that we come from widely divergent backgrounds. Recovery seems to work best when it is culturally relevant…AA members operated in the finest tradition of Twelfth-Step work, meeting newcomers where they were at, not where we thought they ought to be; helping them identify; introducing them to other AA members with whose stories they might identify.
Welcome to the Big Top, Volume 60 Issue 11,
April 2004  

Today there are many visitors to the Ebony OA Website seeking relief from their problem of compulsive overeating-- daily directed to OA and maybe one day the ultimate goal of Ebony OA will come to fruition, blacks will be equally represented in OA meetings as whites.  

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Digging our Graves with our Forks Epidemic of Obesity

The disease of obesity is epidemic in the U.S. and even more so in the black population.  The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention 2002 trends indicates black women at 42% rate of obesity more than twice that of white women.  This startling fact was brought home to me by the death of a highly venerated and idolized Black woman whom I only knew through my sister’s narrative.

Her premature death in February of 2003 so disturbed my sister and an entire community that I had to know why she was so vital.  When I inquired about this woman and what she meant to so many I was told she had overcome several obstacles including substance abuse and had passed her spirit of survival onto others in a most dramatic way.  However there lingered one last vice that my sister’s friend survival prowess could not conquer the insidious, chronic disease of obesity. 

It was indicated in one of her last journal entries that the burden to get her weight under control at over 300 pounds drove her to extreme means.  She envisioned herself in a normal body after stomach surgery.  However, she never realized her dream because my sister’s friend died shortly after the procedure from complications from surgery. 

How many countless others have followed this path, struggled with overeating in a hopeless fog of despondency, in the misguided belief that there is no alternative but to give in to the urges or risk life and limb through dangerous surgical treatment, or temporary fasts. 

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Compulsive Overeating is Treatable
Compulsive overeating which leads to chronic obesity is treatable much like alcoholism is a treatable disease a learned destructive behavior that can be modified through the application of spiritual principals founded in a belief of a higher power.  

I believe that we as Blacks have, as so many say, internalized racism, we really believe we deserve the worst in life just as society tells us, that we are not worthy of success and accomplishment. 

The tendency for us to sooth our immediate discomforts with excess food is not unlike any other addiction, we alter our current mood with some substance but are unprepared to pay the consequences when the food doesn’t completely satisfy and we are left with excess weight.

We live in the belief that we cannot have happy satisfied lives free of food addiction because our vision is clouded by low-self image.  We live in a misapprehension of life that in order to be happy we need excess food in an unbalance manner, which harms our bodies and ultimately kills us.  This is an illusion, a lie; we deserve healthy bodies, which leads to long healthy happy lives. 


Applying Spiritual Principles
Breaking free of the illusion that life is not happy without overeating and being obese comes about through belief in a Higher Power, a belief in a design in life by someone or something smarter than we are.   We tap into that higher power by coming into reality, breaking free from the deception of the elusive fantasy of “having our cake and eating it too.”  We trust that sane eating will leave to long-term happiness and longevity.  

Too often we liken sound normal eating to “bearing with unbearable sorrow”, an “Impossible Dream” but genuine joy comes from eating sanely and having a healthy body size.  Genuine joy is long lasting and doesn’t expire at end of the last bite.  Genuine joy is achieved, accomplished and sustained when we believe we are worthy of long healthy lives through non-destructive habits.  

When we embrace this vision, we increase our self-love and no longer are digging our graves with our forks.

Find a local Overeaters Anonymous meeting in your area.
 
June 6, 2003

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