Monthly Archives: February 2012

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What our Mothers Teach us about Health

Much of what we know about health—reproductive or otherwise—we learn from our mothers, grandmothers, and aunties. Some messages have been helpful, and others have harmed more than they helped. Many Black girls are simply told by their mothers “not to get pregnant” as teenagers and young girls. While this advice is given with good intentions, it is often harmful because it doesn’t promote education about sexual health and safe sex. Instead, it paints a picture as sex only resulting in pregnancy and not potentially resulting in STI’s.

Another thing that we often learn in our households is unhealthy eating habits. We often are not raised in families that eat healthy or exercise regularly, and this is reflected in such health issues as diabetes and high cholesterol. Healthy habits and lifestyles start in the home, and we have to teach out children that healthy eating and exercise is the key to a long life and preventing life-threatening diseases.

Our mothers and grandmothers are who shape our views about reproductive health and healthy lifestyles, and it is no surprise that many parents who are obese also have obese children. The home is where we learn messages about health, sexuality, and reproductive choice. We need to start giving children all the information they need about protecting themselves and staying healthy in order to reverse the rates of obesity, disease, and teen pregnancy.

What lessons did you learn from the women in your family about health?


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Thoughts on Venus Noir

This review of the film Venus Noir is written by Jan Robinson Flint, the Director of Black Women for Wellness.

I and several members and friends of Black Women for Wellness spent three of the longest hours in my short life watching Venus Noir at the Pan African Film Festival on Friday evening. It was a mini fund raiser for the organization, and in that sense it was successful. We had a debrief, unpack and let it go discussion immediately following the movie right there in the movie theater and that was absolutely necessary. As the was really movie long, perhaps with the intent to drain one of energy, spirit and personal/community power. Perhaps the length of the movie was to drive home the point of her reality, which ever we were all devastated by these 3 hours, yet Ms Baartman’s life was this misery and even with her death the exploitation and humiliation continued.

Quick Synopsis: Venus Noir is narrative film on the life of Saarjti Baartman, a South African women enslaved and brought to England & France to exploit as a circus act because of her heritage as a Hottentot woman. . She was sold by a South Afrikaner in 1810, to his brother who transported her to Europe with plans to exploit for riches. He in turn sold Ms Baartman to a sadist animal trainer who increased the degradation by exhibiting her sexuality with  the voyeurism of an elitist class of Parisians. And in turn sold her to an extreme racist medical scientist and to a brothel who immediately expelled her after a routine testing for infections came in positive. Ms Baartman died alone, in a one room walk up in 1815 having sunk to having to sell her self on the streets of Paris. The animal trainer collected her body and sold her again to the medical scientist who cast a mold, dissected her body and displaying her at the natural history museum. Ms Baartman body was on display until 1974 (more than 150 years) . South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela demanded her return however it took 28 years of negotiation and politics to finally secure her remains a proper burial in 2002.  Currently there is a shelter for women and non governmental organization working with victims of domestic violence in Saartje Baartman’s honor in Southern Africa.
With that said, before I attempt to review the movie, please let me share a few tips on maintaining your power. Surround yourself with friends and family, there is nothing like a hug and the love that comes from being in the mist of people who love and support you for no reason at all. There are physical and spiritual hugs, both are needed, babies thrive with the power of touch and many times as we grow older we forget the importance of touch. When the system is robbing you of your power whether through a movie or in some other manner, seek/give hugs the physical ones from those who care about you.
Tip number two, music has a spiritual healing power, sadly the music industry is well aware of this however our artist and healers who are spiritual musicians have been able to record and get healing music in the world. Play healing music, let is sooth your spirit, let it take you to a calming space, let it empower you and feed your soul. When we are working hard, when we celebrate someone’s life, when we are building a movement, music is the tool that empowers and emboldens our energy and spirit – so use it to seal your power.
Back to the movie:
Venus Noir is a tortuous journey through the final 5 years of Saartjie Baartman’s life, it makes each point of exploitation in vivid detail that is drawn out to ensure even the most insensitive of viewers are aware of the humanity and dignity being robbed with cruelty from this woman. There is not one single redeeming character in this epic, not one friend, not one concerned denizen who takes a moment to offer a helping hand, a kind word, a moment of solace or a ray of hope. It is sad to imagine a world so devoid of humanity and a time where people are so self indulged. What makes it so much worst for me, not only is it a true story but I can see the ruminants of this time in our current time. When Justin Timberlake caused awardrobe malfunction exposing Janet Jackson, it was Janet Jackson who took the heat tough the world of Super Bowl fans were entertained.  Thank goodness Diana Ross was able to somewhat check Lil Kim when she wore a pasty on stage. There are other examples: Nellie’s video Tip Drill, Halle’s Berry did not win an Oscar until a rape scene with a prison guard and Yahima Torres (the actress who portrayed Saartje Baartman).
In 2012 Black women are still exploited, swindled, robbed of humanity and spirit for the entertainment of society. However Venus Noir is not about the images of Black women, it is about the inhumanity of white men, it is about the debauchery of the British and French, it is a glimpse into European society and culture that devalues women in general and Black women in specific. It almost portrays Ms Baartman as a willing participant in her own enslavement and humiliation, almost. She is shown smoking to tune out, drinking to numb the pain and holding on through tears, as best she can to maintain her personhood.
Back to Tools for watching movies that rob you of power and energy:
After watching this movie I made the comment, I needed a drink. One of the young men attending withBlack Women for Wellness shared that if I decided to have a drink, I should make sure I have an accountability person with me given what happen when Saartje Baartman drank and all the bad things that can happen when one decides one needs a drink.
An accountability person, one who is able to not only speak truth to you but watch your back is invaluable. An accountability person in the movie with you to check the feeling and reality is critical.
If you must see this film, take friends (yes more than one) a discussion group to re energize and re claim your power, plan the time for the discussion where that happens immediately after seeing the movie. There is a concept called effective kinship, meaning that all the negative Black folks do, the Blackcommunity in general takes kinship to yet while the good Black folks do are attributable to the exception rule.  We have Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Susan Rice (United Nations), Regina Benjamin (US Surgeon General), Lisa Jackson (Environmental Protection Agency), Ophra Winfrey, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia), Leymoh Gbowee (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) and our mothers, aunties and sisters. Thank goodness for these sisters who demand dignity and model humanity for all of us and thank goodness this short list is does not even begin to exhaust the energy and spirit of Black women. The cruelty that murdered Saartje Baartman within 5 years should not be an effective kinship Black women seeing the film take home.
One woman in our discussion mentioned that the French film makers thought Americans could not make a film like this, too long, too pornographic, too brutally honest and certainly not a happy ending. I agree, it is a brutally honest portrayal of Saartje Baartman’s life.  However I have not decided whether this investment in time and brutality is worth the lesson it teaches. I would not screen this for children or young adults.  Perhaps for those who are entertaining the thought of becoming an entertainer, or who need vivid depictions of racism, debauchery, inhumanity and exploitation. You know the ones who simply are not willing to take off blinders to the legacy of slavery, oppression and how it impacts our current life.
Finally, a word about prayer, prayer demands action, knowledge of spirit demands action and is not passive by any means. So when one of our audience participants recommended prayer after this movie, the much-needed addendum is pray in community with people who are willing and able to take action toward changing the world. Praying alone continues the isolation and isolation drains power, energy and spirit.  If you simply pray, it may not be enough to chase the thoughts and demons this movie could bring. Join a movement that is about building resources, empowering women & girls, contributing to our culture and strengthening communion with the people in our communities. That will give you strength, make you feel better and is a much more rewarding way to spend time (and money).

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venus-noire

BWW at the movies – Venus Noir

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Venus Noir

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]and several members and friends of Black Women for Wellness spent three of the longest hours in my short life watching Venus Noir at the Pan African Film Festival on Friday evening. It was a mini fund raiser for the organization, and in that sense it was successful. We had a debrief, unpack and let it go discussion immediately following the movie right there in the movie theater and that was absolutely necessary. As not only was the movie long, perhaps with the intent to drain one of energy, spirit and personal/community power. Perhaps the length of the movie was to drive home the point of her reality, which ever we were all devastated by these 3 hours, yet Ms Baartman’s life was this misery and even with her death the exploitation and humiliation continued.
[highlight]Quick Synopsis[/highlight] Venus Noir is narrative film on the life of Saarjti Baartman, a South African women enslaved and brought to England & France to exploit as a circus act because of her heritage as a Hottentot woman. . She was sold by a South Afrikaner in 1810, to his brother who transported her to Europe with plans to exploit for riches. He in turn sold Ms Baartman to a sadist animal trainer who increased the degradation by exhibiting her sexuality with the voyeurism of an elitist class of Parisians.  And in turn sold her to an extreme racist medical scientist and to a brothel who immediately expelled her after a routine testing for infections came in positive. Ms Baartman died alone, in a one room walk up in 1815 having sunk to having to sell her self on the streets of Paris.
The animal trainer collected her body and sold her again to the medical scientist who cast a mold, dissected her body and displaying her at the natural history museum. Ms Baartman body was on display until 1974 (more than 150 years) . South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela demanded her return however it took 28 years of negotiation and politics to finally secure her remains a proper burial in 2002.  Currently there is a shelter for women and non governmental organization working with victims of domestic violence in Saartje Baartman’s honor in Southern Africa.
With that said, before I attempt to review the movie, please let me share a few tips on maintaining your power. Surround yourself with friends and family, there is nothing like a hug and the love that comes from being in the mist of people who love and support you for no reason at all. There are physical and spiritual hugs, both are needed, babies thrive with the power of touch and many times as we grow older we forget the importance of touch. When the system is robbing you of your power whether through a movie or in some other manner, seek/give hugs the physical ones from those who care about you.
Tip number two, music has a spiritual healing power, sadly the music industry is well aware of this however our artist and healers who are spiritual musicians have been able to record and get healing music in the world. Play healing music, let is sooth your spirit, let it take you to a calming space, let it empower you and feed your soul. When we are working hard, when we celebrate someone’s life, when we are building a movement, music is the tool that empowers and emboldens our energy and spirit – so use it to seal your power.
Back to the movie:
Venus Noir is a tortuous journey through the final 5 years of Saartjie Baartman’s life, it makes each point of exploitation in vivid detail that is drawn out to ensure even the most insensitive of viewers are aware of the humanity and dignity being robbed with cruelty from this woman. There is not one single redeeming character in this epic, not one friend, not one concerned denizen who takes a moment to offer a helping hand, a kind word, a moment of solace or a ray of hope. It is sad to imagine a world so devoid of humanity and a time where people are so self indulged. What makes it so much worst for me, not only is it a true story but I can see the ruminants of this time in our current time. When Justin Timberlake caused awardrobe malfunction exposing Janet Jackson, it was Janet Jackson who took the heat tough the world of Super Bowl fans were entertained.  Thank goodness Diana Ross was able to somewhat check Lil Kim when she wore a pasty on stage. There are other examples: Nellie’s video Tip Drill, Halle’s Berry did not win an Oscar until a rape scene with a prison guard and Yahima Torres (the actress who portrayed Saartje Baartman).
In 2012 Black women are still exploited, swindled, robbed of humanity and spirit for the entertainment of society. However Venus Noir is not about the images of Black women, it is about the inhumanity of white men, it is about the debauchery of the British and French, it is a glimpse into European society and culture that devalues women in general and Black women in specific. It almost portrays Ms Baartman as a willing participant in her own enslavement and humiliation, almost. She is shown smoking to tune out, drinking to numb the pain and holding on through tears, as best she can to maintain her personhood.
Back to Tools for watching movies that rob you of power and energy:
After watching this movie I made the comment, I needed a drink. One of the young men attending with Black Women for Wellness shared that if I decided to have a drink, I should make sure I have an accountability person with me given what happen when Saartje Baartman drank and all the bad things that can happen when one decides one needs a drink.
An accountability person, one who is able to not only speak truth to you but watch your back is invaluable. An accountability person in the movie with you to check the feeling and reality is critical.
If you must see this film, take friends (yes more than one) a discussion group to re energize and re claim your power, plan the time for the discussion where that happens immediately after seeing the movie. There is a concept called effective kinship, meaning that all the negative Black folks do, the Black community in general takes kinship to yet while the good Black folks do are attributable to the exception rule.  We have Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Susan Rice (United Nations), Regina Benjamin (US Surgeon General), Lisa Jackson (Environmental Protection Agency), Ophra Winfrey, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia), Leymoh Gbowee (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) and our mothers, aunties and sisters. Thank goodness for these sisters who demand dignity and model humanity for all of us and thank goodness this short list is does not even begin to exhaust the energy and spirit of Black women. The cruelty that murdered Saartje Baartman within 5 years should not be an effective kinship Black women seeing the film take home.
One woman in our discussion mentioned that the French film makers thought Americans could not make a film like this, too long, too pornographic, too brutally honest and certainly not a happy ending. I agree, it is a brutally honest portrayal of Saartje Baartman’s life.  However I have not decided whether this investment in time and brutality is worth the lesson it teaches. I would not screen this for children or young adults.  Perhaps for those who are entertaining the thought of becoming an entertainer, or who need vivid depictions of racism, debauchery, inhumanity and exploitation. You know the ones who simply are not willing to take off blinders to the legacy of slavery, oppression and how it impacts our current life.
Finally, a word about prayer, prayer demands action, knowledge of spirit demands action and is not passive by any means. So when one of our audience participants recommended prayer after this movie, the much-needed addendum is pray in community with people who are willing and able to take action toward changing the world. Praying alone continues the isolation and isolation drains power, energy and spirit.  If you simply pray, it may not be enough to chase the thoughts and demons this movie could bring. Join a movement that is about building resources, empowering women & girls, contributing to our culture and strengthening communion with the people in our communities. That will give you strength, make you feel better and is a much more rewarding way to spend time (and money).

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PowerShift March 2012

Skin Deep in more ways than one

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Check out the article that Black Women for Wellness was interviewed in that has appeared in several outlets but originally wrote in the San Francisco Bay View.

by: Thandisizwe Chimurenga

Part 1

A page from “Techniques to Achieve Naturally Healthy Hair”

Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), refused to allow advertisements for products to lighten the skin and straighten the hair of African Americans in The Negro World, the UNIA’s newspaper. That was “back in the day” – between 1918 and 1933 – when the paper had a circulation estimated at close to 200,000 per week.

 

During the 1960s, Black Power and Black Pride proponents ushered in “naturals” and “afro” hair styles. In between shouts of “Right on” and “Power to the people,” many of these proponents declared that the hair straightening process was damaging to the brains of African Americans. These proponents were more than likely speaking figuratively about the psyche of Blacks; but from a literal standpoint, they may have actually been on to something.

The 1970s saw the environmental movement in the U.S. creating unprecedented awareness of the damage that humans were doing to planet Earth and various measures to cease or slow that damage. The majority of media attention regarding toxic chemicals since that time has focused on the possibly adverse effects of household chemicals on the environment or industrial chemicals’ possibly adverse effects on the environment and/or human, animal and plant life.

Very little if any media attention or research has looked at the possible connections between African American beauty salons, the personal care products utilized primarily by Black women and adverse health outcomes, specifically in the area of reproductive health. But that has begun to change.

In May of 2011, Dr. Mary Beth Terry and others authored a study which found that African-American and African-Caribbean women were more likely to be exposed to hormonally-active chemicals in hair products.

Terry’s study, “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Hormonally-Active Hair Product Use: A Plausible Risk Factor for Health Disparities,” published in the Journal of Immigrant Health, found that the African-American and African-Caribbean women surveyed used products that contained chemicals that are commonly referred to as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have been linked to various reproductive effects and birth defects, breast cancer and heart disease.

Most recently, a team of researchers led by Dr. Lauren Wise of Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center found strong evidence which indicates that African-American women’s hair relaxer use increases the risk for uterine fibroid tumors by exposing Black women to various chemicals through scalp lesions and burns from the products.

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or just outside a woman’s uterus (womb) from normal uterine cells that begin to grow abnormally. Although fibroids tend to be extremely common, African-American women tend to get them two to three times as often as white women and tend to experience more symptoms from them, such as prolonged and heavy menstrual flow, difficulty conceiving a child, and instances of pain during menses and also during intercourse.

Wise’s team also found that women who got their first menstrual period before the age of 10 were more likely to have uterine fibroids. The researchers followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal African-American women from 1997 to 2009 and published their study, “Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African-American Women,” onlined in the Jan. 10, 2012, edition of the Journal of American Epidemiology.

Researchers have also posited that a link exists between the early onset of puberty in Black girls and Black hair care products. In a study of 300 African-American, African-Caribbean, Hispanic and white women in New York City, the reported age when these women experienced their first menstrual period (menarche) varied from age 8 to age 19; however, the African-Americans were more likely to use hair products and reached menarche earlier than other racial or ethnic groups.

Dr. Tamarra James-Todd of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the lead author of “Childhood Hair Product Use and Earlier Age at Menarche in a Racially Diverse Study Population,” published online in the June 2011 Annals of Epidemiology. The study specifically cited the use of hair oils and hair straightening (“perm”) products and the onset of early menarche in the women.

According to figures from the Black-Owned Beauty Supply Association, African-Americans are estimated to spend between $7 billion and $9 billion dollars per year on hair and beauty products. The potential costs to our health, however, have yet to be adequately quantified.

Part 2

“Take the kinks out of your mind, instead of out of your hair.” – Marcus Mosiah Garvey, founder, Universal Negro Improvement Association

Black women today who strive to take Marcus Garvey’s admonition to heart are in a better position than their sisters of the past. Research focusing on the products used in African-American beauty salons – and homes – is increasing; and while the findings are showing links to adverse health outcomes primarily amongst Black women, there exists an increased motivation for natural, less toxic beauty products, as well as calls to more stringently regulate the personal care product industry.

In Los Angeles, Black Women for Wellness (BWW), a Leimert Park-based, grassroots health and wellness advocacy organization, has produced a “green chemistry” booklet entitled “Black Going Green,” which is a part of their “Green Chemistry Initiative.”

The 28-page booklet, which is geared toward African American women and girls, lists many chemical ingredients and the possible health risks of everyday household and personal beauty products, and provides many healthy and environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Readers will find information on products and chemicals such as relaxers, detanglers, shampoo and conditioner, nail polish and lipstick.

“In order to make better choices and be more critical consumers, we understood that arming Black women – the primary caretakers in our communities – with reliable information was key,” said Nourbese Flint, program director at Black Women for Wellness and project coordinator for the booklet. “This is one small step to help Black women make the kinds of choices that are critical to increasing our community’s health and well-being,” said Flint.

Also as part of its Green Chemistry Initiative, the organization has organized a “Beauty Salon Campaign” to conduct research amongst African American beauty salons to explore possible connections between products utilized primarily by Black women and possible reproductive health disparities.

According to BWW Executive Director Jan Robinson-Flint, the project, which is still in the data-gathering stage, is doing a survey of beauty supply stores, beauty salons, barber shops and wig shops within a one-mile radius of the organization’s Leimert Park-based headquarters – approximately 60 stores in all.

“We asked the owners and the stylists what were the products that they were using? And from those products what we did was create a list of the top 10 chemicals … and then looked at the impact of those chemicals – because they’re toxins – on our health and well-being. Anytime you look at any statistics for Black women, you’ll find that we are at the top,” said Robinson-Flint.

BWW plans to rate the chemicals in terms of how toxic they are once the results of their research are made public.

Another component of BWW’s Green Chemistry Initiative is an Activist and Advocate Academy organized with the goal of “developing a cadre of women and youth working with the African American and Black community to increase information and education on Green Chemistry issues as they impact health and wellbeing, and increase the voices of African American women and girls with environmental justice issues as they impact our health and wellbeing.”

Dera Baskin, a midwife and health educator, attended the academy in 2011 with the purpose of learning how reproductive and environmental justice intersect and to find out what the common citizen can do to change personal and community environments.

As a “birth worker,” Baskin said that many of the families she works with are not aware of the exposure to chemicals in their home environments and how they can reduce or remove them. “All in the name of beauty and looking cute … we are damaging our bodies and [our] ability to bring forth healthy babies … we often buy products because of the brand, smell, what it will do aesthetically without thinking about what it will do long term. I wanted to be able to learn and share accurate information with people who look like me,” she said.

Black Women for Wellness is a member of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance which works to raise the profile of salon worker health and safety issues primarily in the Asian/Pacific Islander community. Along with the Bay Area-based California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, the group has provided testimony before congressional committees in Washington, D.C., regarding concerns of African-American salons and their clients.

Saffiyah Edley, the owner of Los Angeles-based Luv Mi Kinks told the Salon Worker Health and Safety Congressional Briefing in Washington, D.C., last May that a truly “natural hair care industry” is needed “where hair product manufacturers can’t hide behind harmful ingredients.” Edley said, “Awareness is needed for stylists and clients around the harm that may be caused by using certain products. But what’s needed the most is that manufacturers must take responsibility for products on the market today that they are making and take out harmful chemicals.”

In addition to helping to organize the congressional briefing, the Oakland-based California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, along with the Environmental Finance Center (EFC), has also produced a “Techniques to Achieve Naturally Healthy Hair” to highlight sustainable alternatives for hair care.

The multicultural, multiethnic publication gives an explanation of five basic hair textures: wavy, tightly coiled, straight, very curly and grey hair, which is included because of its different growth pattern and occasional difficulty in managing.

The guide also provides tips on natural hair styles for men, women and children such as braids and pony tails, natural curls and crimps, and the use of a flat iron for straightening. Natural care techniques mentioned in the guide include avocado or olive oil hair conditioners, using witch hazel for dandruff and sunflower oil for moisturizing and tips for “greening” hair salons.

A project of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EFC seeks to build green economies and foster sustainable communities in the U.S. by working with government and industry, communities and Native American Tribes.

The partnership between grassroots groups, business and government will be necessary for success.

Says Saffiyah Edley, “There are safer alternatives, but we need regulation in order to really push them forward.”

Fact box

The chemicals found in common African-American hair products are known as estrogen and endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. Although comprehensive research is ongoing, many of these chemicals are believed to be linked to reproductive effects and birth defects, breast cancer, heart disease, cognitive disorders, premature puberty and altered immune function, to name a few.

Chemicals found in Common African American Hair Products such as straighteners/relaxers (perms), detanglers, colorants, shampoos and conditioners

Estrogen and endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs, compiled primarily from the booklet, “Techniques to Achieve Naturally Healthy Hair”:

• Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) and Calcium Hydroxide (No Lye)

• Diazolidinyl Urea

• DMDM Hydantoin

• Propylene Glycol

• Diethanolamine

• Monoethanolamine

• Triethanolamine

• Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate

• Hydroquinone

• Colorants and Synthetic Colors labeled as D&C and/or FD&C

Thandisizwe Chimurenga is a Los Angeles-based writer and a 2011-2012 New America Media Environmental Health Justice Fellow. Thandi is also the conductor of the CyberGround Railroad, “Black Los Angeles’ News and Views Source,” a community journalist and a founder and host of Some of Us Are Brave, a Black women’s public affairs show on KPFK-Pacifica Los Angeles. She has reported for the L.A. Watts Times newspaper, KPFK Evening News and Free Speech Radio News. She covered the trial of Johannes Mehserle, who murdered Oscar Grant, for the Bay View and several other Bay Area news organizations and is the author of a forthcoming book on the trial. She can be reached at tchimurenga@gmail.com.

 


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Reproductive Justice and Black Women: Real Issues

Reproductive Justice is more than having an abortion or not. It’s about a woman’s holistic well-being and her ability to make choices for her health and her life overall. For Black women, the fight for access to healthcare and birth control continues. Prenatal and perinatal care are also issues that are paramount to full reproductive justice because it deals with what happens after a woman decides to have a child and gives her the opportunity to do what’s best for her health and the health of her baby. In addition, Black women should have access to midwives if they do not want to have a child in a hospital—or who don’t have access to health insurance that will pay for a hospital stay.

There are also reproductive health issues that affect Black women more than any other group, such as fibroids and HIV/AIDS. Up to 80% of Black women have fibroids, many of whom go through hysterectomies to remove the fibroids, a procedure that severely limits a woman’s reproductive choices. STI’s such as HIV/AIDS also limits reproductive choices, but are preventable through access to condoms and education. In reproductive justice, sex education is key to protecting ourselves from HIV and other STI’s.

In a world where Black women are still dehumanized and black women’s bodies have been used to perfect contraceptives, reproductive justice becomes an issue of fighting for humanity and protecting our wombs. Reproductive justice is about challenging images and ideas that portray black women as unfit mothers. Who can forget the billboards proclaiming that the most dangerous place for a Black child is in the womb? As a whole reproductive justice isn’t about giving women the choice to become mothers, it is also about giving mothers the tools they need to care for their children.

What are some of the things that come to mind when you think about Black women and reproductive justice? What does reproductive justice mean to you?

 


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Reproductive Justice and Black Women

Tags : 

Reproductive Justice is more than having an abortion or not. It’s about a woman’s holistic well-being and her ability to make choices for her health and her life overall. For Black women, the fight for access to healthcare and birth control continues. Prenatal and perinatal care are also issues that are paramount to full reproductive justice because it deals with what happens after a woman decides to have a child and gives her the opportunity to do what’s best for her health and the health of her baby. In addition, Black women should have access to midwives if they do not want to have a child in a hospital—or who don’t have access to health insurance that will pay for a hospital stay.

There are also reproductive health issues that affect Black women more than any other group, such as fibroids and HIV/AIDS. Up to 80% of Black women have fibroids, many of whom go through hysterectomies to remove the fibroids, a procedure that severely limits a woman’s reproductive choices. STI’s such as HIV/AIDS also limits reproductive choices, but are preventable through access to condoms and education. In reproductive justice, sex education is key to protecting ourselves from HIV and other STI’s.

In a world where Black women are still dehumanized and black women’s bodies have been used to perfect contraceptives, reproductive justice becomes an issue of fighting for humanity and protecting our wombs. Reproductive justice is about challenging images and ideas that portray black women as unfit mothers. Who can forget the billboards proclaiming that the most dangerous place for a Black child is in the womb? As a whole reproductive justice isn’t about giving women the choice to become mothers, it is also about giving mothers the tools they need to care for their children.
What are some of the things that come to mind when you think about Black women and reproductive justice? What does reproductive justice mean to you?


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This is my Black history not yours

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From Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice  Blog

This is my Black history, not yours

by Shanelle Matthews, Communications Manager

[dropcap]Black[/dropcap]Women Writers– a timeless book that lays perched on my teeming bookshelf, tattered pages strewn with notes, insignificant to the naked eye. This critical evaluation of Black literary brilliance, that assesses the works of women like Toni Cade Bambara, Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, and Gwendolyn Brooks, is my Black history. I carry this history with me everywhere I go, indulging in the fictional genius and immeasurable talent of women who look like me and with whom I share the passion for the art of literature. This history fuels my creative prose and for it I am infinitely grateful because without it, I can’t be sure of where I would find my inspiration. But this is my Black history – not yours.

Black history month is proof of America’s obsession with pacifist behavior. A sweet cyclic muse that we court each February, exploiting the notion that Black history is a subgenre of American history and therefore can be relegated to a month filled with partial truths — one short, concentrated heritage month spent divulging stories that have been diluted due to an overwhelming feeling of White guilt.  This guilt urges historians to hide the truth and tell only those heroic tales of Blackness suitable for their grandchildren’s ears. This is not my Black history.

Each of us enters February anew. A month that begins and ends just like the others, with affixed holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. Guilt, tradition, and a fear of discriminatory reprisal will lead teachers and the media to communicate misbegotten lessons that highlight the importance and relevance of Black people and our contributions, but we don’t have to bite. We don’t have to agree to learning only the lessons that post-racialists deem relevant to teach — a watery, fetishized skeleton of what is one of the most potent and vital legacies in American history.

My Black history, the one I celebrate every day, is intoxicating. It’s too…read the rest here


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