black-women's-health

Did you ever wonder why so many sisters look so angry? Why we walk like we’ve got bricks in our bags and will slash and curse you at the drop of a hat? It’s because stress is hemmed into our dresses, pressed into our hair, mixed into our perfume and painted on our fingers. Stress from the deferred dreams, the dreams not voiced; stress from always being at the bottom, from never being thought beautiful, from always being taken for granted, taken advantage of; stress from being a black woman in white America. Much of this stress is caused by how the world outside us, relates to us. We cannot control that world, at times we can change it but we can assert agency in our own lives so that the outside world cannot over-determine our responses, cannot make our lives a dumping ground for stress.
—  Opal Palmer Adisa, “Rocking in the Sunlight: Stress and Black Women" 
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“OLDEST BODY BUILDER ERNESTINE SHEPHERD ”


She is 76 years old “he started working out in her 50′s which truly shows no one is ever too old to get fit! She was trained by a former Mr. America.” “She runs 10 miles or more a day? How many of us can’t even run 1 mile at a time?”

“If we, as women and men, truly look to our elders, like Mrs. Ernestine Shepherd, we could learn so much. Its time that we, as people, find a true purpose. We write so much on the negative issues in our world, when we there are wonderful examples of the good side of our world like Mrs. Shepherd. If we could really focus on self preservation, respecting others and helping others in what we do, God would be so pleased. Let’s get inspired by this angel of a woman that should make anyone jump up and get a heads start on being fit for life. We’re running at this moment….!! Lol”


As recently as the early 1990s, if you were born deaf, nobody would know for years. Parents were left to realize that something was amiss when their toddlers were not learning to talk or communicate at a normal pace. A diagnosis that late meant many deaf children never fully developed the ability to use language.

Today, things are drastically different for hard-of-hearing children, thanks to the efforts of a remarkable woman named Dr. Marion Downs.

It was just chance that Downs ended up as an audiologist. In the 1930s, she dropped out of college to marry and have children. When her children were old enough to spend their days in school, she wrapped up her bachelor’s degree and headed to the University of Denver to register for graduate school.

“It was right after World War II, and there were GIs standing in miles of lines for different departments. And I said, ‘I’ll find a short line,’ ” Downs told Colorado Public Radio in 2011. “So I found a short line that was speech pathology and audiology.”

She was a woman in a field dominated by men — and a mother surrounded by audiologists who insisted it made no difference whether hearing loss was detected at birth or years into a child’s life. Downs didn’t believe that, but it would be decades before research proved her right.

Remembering The Pioneering Audiologist Who Tested Hearing At Birth

Photo credit: Marion Downs Center

A recent study on black women in America delivered a mixed, even contradictory message. The report from the Black Women’s Roundtable found that while black women in the United States are making strides in education and business and affecting political trends with stellar voter turnout numbers, they remain more vulnerable to health problems and violence than any other group. Their strength at the polls is not reflected in elected positions. So, the situation is — at the same time — hopeful and frustrating, many steps forward with persistent, historical hurdles still blocking the way.
What is at first glance confusing makes perfect sense, though. Despite the reality show image of sassy, in control and intimidating black women taking charge and needing no help from anyone, the American story is consistent with the study. It is a tale of black women as invisible, misjudged and resilient through it all –integral and nurturing, yet set apart. They have survived, thrived and led, in spite of obstacles that have often kept them vulnerable, a term seldom used to describe black women.
— 

Powerful yet vulnerable black women: A contradiction rooted in history

To raise awareness about the 80% of black women who suffer from fibroids, we’d love for you to upload selfies and other photos of yourself in a white dress in the comments section. And wear a white dress TOMORROW, Thursday, July 10, in commemoration of Fibroids Awareness Month — first in Georgia and eventually nationwide. In our 3-part series on fibroids, check out organizations fighting fibroids and read why Tanika Gray Valbrun founded The White Dress Project: We CAN Wear White: #FightFibroids #WeCanWearWhite #FierceHealth

For fat Black lesbian and bisexual women, it is important to note that in addition to racism, we must also negotiate the realities of heterosexism, sexism, and anti-fat bias within the health care system. The fact that fat Black lesbian and bisexual women sit at the intersections of all these marginalized identities cannot be overlooked in our efforts to acknowledge the ecology of our health care experiences. Typically, however, larger-than-average weight among Black women is viewed as a symptom of the deleterious effects of other forms of oppression, and the effects of anti-fat bias within society (including within the health professions) on Black women’s health are often ignored… Research claiming that weight is highly predictive of the health statuses of people of any group systematically discriminated against by health providers is incomplete without an analysis of the confounded effects of low-quality healthcare. To what extent does poor treatment in health care systems due to size, race, gender, or sexuality account for previously identified correlations among weight, disease, and death for fat women?
—  Bianca D. M. Wilson, Widening the Dialogue to Narrow the Gap in Health Disparities: Approaches to Fat Black Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Promotion 

On Gender Norms and Young Black Girls

JULY 7, 2014BY

CIARA MYERS, EDITOR

 

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By Riki Wilchins
TrueChild
http://www.truechild.org

Riki Wilchins is the Executive Director at TrueChild, an organization that aids donors, policy-makers and practitioners in reconnecting race, class and gender through “gender transformative” approaches challenging rigid gender norms and inequities. Wilchins has authored three books on gender theory and has appeared in a number of anthologies and publications on the subject. Her work has led her to be profiled by The New York Times, and she was once selected as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Civic Innovators for the 21st Century.” Here, Wilchins discusses what we can do to correct the effects of gender norms on young, black girls.


Decades of researchhas found that challenging harmful gender norms are a key to improving life outcomes for at-risk communities.

For instance, young women who internalize narrow feminine ideals that prioritize motherhood, dependence, vulnerability and appearance have lower life outcomes in reproductive health, education and economic empowerment.

Major international donor agencies like PEPFAR, USAID, UNAIDs, and WHO have all implemented “gender transformative” initiatives that challenge traditional gender norms, and found them effective (an introductory paper is here).

Gender impacts every issue funders address; yet donors and grantees are seldom challenged to do innovative work around gender.

As a senior program officer put it, “My staff and grantees get race and class, but where’s the gender analysis? What I want to know is—what happened to gender?”

Part of the answer to her question may lie in new report onyoung Black girlswe conducted for the Heinz Endowments.

We found that Black adolescent girls and young women face special barriers related to both race and gender which have immense effects on their health, achievement and life outcomes. And this was especially true for low-income Black girls, who also have challenges associated with poverty.

First, Black girls’ unique race and gendered experiences of discrimination result in multiple stresses that – over time – impair their immune systems.

Also, they must navigate social hostilities based on race as well as pressures to conform to traditional feminine ideals and those specific to Black communities.

Moreover, feminine norms in the Black community often prioritize caretaking and self-sacrifice. Black girls may be silently encouraged to focus on others’ health while ignoring signals of pain and illness until their own bodies are in crisis.

The additive impact of these stresses can produce a “weathering effect,” in which Black women’s bodies become physically and biologically vulnerable, resulting in high rates of chronic disorders, reproductive health problems, infant mortality and obesity.

Download the report here