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
but did not limit
their vision of outreach and encouraged those eager to recover to
"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
January 1, 2003
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
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
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:
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,
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.
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.
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
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