Category: Black Women Articles
March 30, 2015
When I was younger the month of March filled me with extreme amounts of joy. I was able to look forward to the birthdays of my paternal grandmother, my cousin, my aunt, my father, and even myself, all in the same month. Recently, this sentiment has changed. I still feel joy and excitement during this month, but accompanied with these emotions has come reflection. A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday, and of course, it was celebrated with the fanfare one would expect for such a milestone. Even with the celebrating, I spent a significant amount of time to myself, thinking about where I was, the company I was with, and the influences on my life to this point.
The summer after my freshman year at NC State, I was awarded a grant to spend five weeks in Haiti, through the Park Scholarships. In the grant I explained that I wanted to gain experience in the administration of healthcare in a developing country, but to also experience significant cultural immersion in my father’s country of birth. My aunt at the time was still living in Haiti, and assisted with my in-country arrangements. My family accompanied me for the first week, and my father spent an additional week in the country before returning to North Carolina. The last three weeks of my time in Haiti I spent learning, intensively. The experience I gained from the hospital was tremendous, but the wealth of knowledge I gained from my aunt was priceless.
My aunt and I spent countless hours talking about my life and hers, the places she’d traveled, the people she met, the beauty in simplicity, and what is important in our lives. We began to discuss my next visit to Haiti and how to establish a sustainable trip for students who are interested in the experience. Unfortunately, this would never come to fruition. My aunt passed away the following March, the day after my birthday and two days before hers, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. With my aunt’s passing came reflection and insight. The importance of love, to not take people for granted, and to crystallize the relationships I have while also fostering new ones, gradually came to me as integral parts of life. I thought of my maternal grandmother, who was present at each of her grandchildren’s births, and has never missed a birthday since, my paternal grandmother whose mannerisms and love I remember to this day, and my mother who reminded me just today that she “never misses a beat.” These relationships have played a powerful role in my growth, and continue to shape my life.
In recognition of Women’s History Month on this last day of March 2015, I celebrate these women. Their impact on me has yet to be fully realized, but it is already significant. The love I have for them is overwhelming, and I am thankful for that.
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March 26, 2015
Currently my department is actively recruiting faculty members. We have candidates come and present their work as we listen and take notes on their interesting talks and pass them on to the department. However, I noticed something interesting. None of the faculty candidates talks that I have sat in on have been women of an underrepresented group. I thought it was pretty interesting when I was trying to find a paper for my group to discuss at our weekly meeting that I stumbled upon a guest editorial by Marcy Towns titled Where are the Women of Color? Data on African American, Hispanic, and Native American Faculty in STEM.
I felt as though this paper fell into my lap and but I was very hesitant to bring it to our reading group in fear that I would be pinned as “angry”. After great deliberation with one of my labmates I decided to bring it up while we were talking about another faculty candidate. Of course me being as awkward as I am the conversation started out slow but then generated a great flow. In the conversation we talked about different cultures, what it means to be a majority, the benefit of having role models, and having professors and faculty you can identify with(beyond race) as a student. In this discussion I think we all learned a little about the environments we have come from and the transition to NC State’s level of diversity. The conversation even took a turn to talk about the effects of diversity in general and what that is to us. Personally, NC State was a step backwards for me as far as diversity is concerned, for others it was giant leap forward.
I can’t begin to explain how excited I am to have talked about this with my lab group. We definitely learned a lot about each other and this allows us to grow closer as researchers and to understand each other better.
During our talk I sent the paper to the group email list for people to read afterwards. I’m guessing my advisor, who was not there at the discussion, read the paper. He later sent me a blog post by Stephanie Migdalia Pi Herrera titled Institutional Barriers for Women of Color at Code Schools. The most interesting point of this blog post that resonated with me is trying to bring up the topic as an issue without sounding aggressive. I just thought it was amazing how my advisor wasn’t at the discussion but was able to send me support about the topic.
I encourage all our readers and followers to read both articles. You can claim it as a way of celebrating Women’s History Month! I guarantee you will find something valuable from there even if you are not a woman. Consider bringing up these articles as a great way to start a conversation with your own community. Also, see more on the topic noted as Acknowledging Diverse Experiences in STEM by @drfayonline.
March 12, 2015
Sisterhood: (noun) the close relationship among women based on shared experiences, concerns, etc.
I am privileged to say that I have been blessed to have one younger sister. She is only a year younger than me but sometimes it feels like 5 years. I feel like I have matured so much faster than she has but I think my independence has encouraged that. I find myself wanting to do all things for her and protect her as if she is my child but she’s not. We are peers and that is sometimes hard to remember.
Sometimes its hard for me to understand that we are going down separate paths of life. My path is more structured and planned and her’s is more free flowing. It’s challenging for me to just let her find her own way but living with her has allowed me let her live.
This is the first time we have lived together since we shared a room in middle school. We butted heads a lot when we were younger just as we do now, but I think overall it makes our bond stronger.
My sister and I have heart to hearts more often and share more of deepest darkest secrets more. Some people have sought out sororities and other organizations to find this bond that I have had all my life. I think we have grown to understand each other better and I am learning to treasure this bond. The point of this post is to encourage my readers to reach out and embrace their sisters whether they are bonded by blood or not.
Be sure to follow @myhealthimpact on twitter as we post other blog posts about healthy relationships.
February 21, 2015
“Is it just me or does not feel like Black History Month.” I posted a status like this on Facebook and got a lot of likes on it, so it makes it feel like I’m not the only person feeling like this. Ever since I came down to North Carolina, I have noticed that there is definitely a different vibe to Black History Month. It feels as though it gets swept under the rug as a nonsignificant time here.
I was raised in Prince Georges County, Maryland where there is a strong presence of successful black people. As a student of the public school system, I learned about black history facts from a young age. I grew up living behind one of the first public Black high schools in the county. I recall one time when I was in the third grade we had a big history project. We had to dress up like a prominent figure of our choosing and we could not be the usual Dr. King or Rosa Parks. I was Josephine Baker, the great entertainer, who at the time I knew nothing about, but that was the point. I was challenged to go out and learn about all the uncelebrated pioneers. The project made us know these individuals, and that’s something that I will never forget. Do children in elementary school do the same here in NC?
However, my learning did not stop in in the classroom, my church family celebrated history and culture as well. I've been a member of Ward Memorial A.M.E. Church since I was born. In Sunday School and other groups of the congregation we celebrated civil rights activist who were also key figures in founding the African Methodist Episcopal Church, such as Richard Allen. My church even hosts programs and recitals to celebrate the lives of those who paved paved the road for us. In addition to these programs throughout the year, we also have "African Attire" Sunday where everyone dresses up in their traditional African garments. My church is and has always been an active voice in the community. Are there many churches down here in NC that can say the same?
I grew up in a community where you reflected often on the accomplishments of African Americans in the community as a basis for the youth to take those advancements to the next level. What saddens me is that I don't see that here at my college. No one is talking about a black history fact of the day. No one is talking about who Garret Morgan, Mae Jemison, Duke Ellington, Benjamin Banneker, or even George Washington Carver has done. The worst part of it all is that some people don't even know who these people are, yet alone never heard their name. In my community there a schools, buildings, streets, and train stations named after these individuals. It is because of these individuals that I have even gotten as far as I have in life. Are there places like that named in after individuals in NC? How many?
I've been blessed to grow up in a community where I was taught to celebrate my heritage. Unfortunately, it's hard to find that same strong black community outside the DMV area. There's truly none other like it. The heritage, the culture is something that I didn’t appreciate until I got out of Maryland and I didn’t have it anymore. For that reason alone I could see myself returning to the area. Let's just say I grew up knowing my roots, and I plan on sticking to them.
I challenge my readers to go out and find an unsung hero in your community, and let us know what you learn about them. Black History doesn’t have to stop at the end of February ,so we encourage you to do this throughout the year! Tweet your findings to @DenaeFord and @myHealthImpact and let us know how cl using the hashtags #BecauseOfThemWECan, #BlackImpactMonth, or #myhealthimpact.
Follow @myHealthImpact on twitter for future updates on what’s going on in the community.
January 22, 2015
With the new sense of hypervigilance, particularly in relation to domestic violence, I hope that we as a community can come together in active support of survivors of abuse. It must be clear that violence towards others in any form should not to be accepted, regardless of profession. I hope to see advancements with the NO MORE PSA campaigns, Purple Purse, and the NFL, realizing their goals of decreased rates of domestic violence and increased support of the victims.
In recent months there has been significant media coverage concerning the lives, specifically the legal matters, of professional athletes. The abuse perpetrated by Ray Rice was seen by many outside of the sports world, and was the first of many noteworthy incidents involving his colleagues of the National Football League. Since Rice’s arrest, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Adrian Peterson have been in the news for their respective criminal acts. Athletes breaking the law is nothing new. In the past, fans have often been aware of the personal lives of athletes, even with minimal media coverage, but there seems to be a shift regarding the awareness. It is no longer solely fans who hear about the incidents, the coverage by major news outlets has increased the audience.
USA Today compiled a database of all NFL player arrests since 2000, citing 85 of the 713 arrests were made regarding situations of domestic violence. Being that domestic violence is the one of the most underreported crimes, it is reasonable to assume that these numbers are not completely representative of the truth. The difficulty to speak about domestic violence is highlighted in the “Speechless” series of NO MORE PSA. The commercials have aired in recent weeks showing celebrities, as well as current and former NFL players sitting in silence as they attempt to speak on domestic violence. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is another group bringing domestic violence, and financial abuse in particular, to the forefront. Allstate Foundation reports that financial abuse occurs in 98% of domestic violence cases. This staggering number has prompted Purple Purse to make it “fashionable” to speak about domestic violence through fundraising to support survivors.
As we have seen, the issues faced by athletes are mirroring the societal issues we are facing today. The question of corporal punishment, the prevalence of substance abuse, the charges of domestic violence, and even the statements of solidarity displayed following the killings in Ferguson and Staten Island, in relation to the athletes of the NFL, have all led to further questions addressing all people, instead of athletes exclusively. We must continue to recognize that as contributing members of society we have a responsibility to treat ourselves, and each other, with respect and dignity at all times.
Continue to follow @myhealthimpact on the latest news regarding domestic violence and your health!
December 11, 2014
I spent this weekend being a beauty stylist. I colored and straightened my sister’s hair, colored my friend’s dreadlocks, wash and straightened my hair, and tried another hair project that was completely new for me. My sister and I tried our hand at wig making! We watched a couple YouTube videos and decided, “Hey, Let’s do it!”
To give you an idea of my hair, I am a naturalista with shoulder length hair. I have the opportunity to try a lot of styles with my hair and that’s what I love about it. One day my hair can be bone straight and the next day I can have a bushy twist out. I LOVE THIS FLEXIBILITY! However, playing with all the flexibility of my hair does have a down side. The constant manipulation of my hair can lead to hair damage. This is why wigs and wearing tracks(hair extensions) is so amazing. In addition, I really want to see my hair in a short pixie style but I’m honestly not ready to cut my real hair yet.
Wigs often get the connotation of being only for those who are suffering from hair loss related diseases or the inability to grow hair, but wigs offer so much more than that. They are a fun way of expressing yourself and I challenge you all not to knock it until you have tried it. With extensions, you can keep your real hair in a low maintenance style such as cornrows and on top sew in some weave or wear a ‘hair hat’ to try a different look. One of the most beautiful things about being a black woman is the choice to have versatility with your hair. So why not explore that versatility? If things don’t come out the way you want it’s not the end of the world. It’s just hair, and certainly, I do not let hair dictate my workouts.
#Images #Self-Expression #Health #Hair
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October 07, 2014
Growing up I never actually seen a woman beaten in front of me or even wondered if domestic violence was even a growing issue. If anything, my life has never been directly affected by it and that plays a role on my views on this issue. In no way shape or form am I saying it’s not a problem, but I didn't know it was as big as a problem as it really is. The only instance that I heard of, was in high school when a guy threw his girlfriend on a table. At the time I thought to myself, “who throws people on tables” not “Oh my gosh he is physically abusing his partner”. Looking back, I was foolish not to take the situation more seriously. We all knew something was wrong with that dude before the occurrence happened, but the person (female) didn’t give off signs of abuse.
With the sudden headlines of athletes admitting and accusations of domestic violence, male and female, we, as honest folk ,really have to start asking ourselves “How often does this happen?” Maybe I’ve been oblivious to this because I am a male. Maybe its because I just didn’t get out much in my teenage years. One of my friends even called it taboo. It never came up in conversation, and I don’t think people would publicly bring it up. I’ve heard gossip, but none of it was ever confirmed.
To segway back to the athletes, specifically NFL athletes, I do not agree with the current domestic violence punishments issued to players. We live in a world where an athlete smoking weed or even dog fighting holds harsher punishments than domestic violence. Player punishment should not be the main source to shed light on this issue. What happens when the abuser isn’t famous, rich, or even well known? Honestly, I feel like some people just wouldn’t care as much.
Domestic violence is also a health issue. There is the mental health...physical health...sexual health. Follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter and Tumblr as we discuss current social and cultural issues impacting health.
October 01, 2014
Calling all angry BLACK women! It is now our time to speak up and rejoice in our rage. (That was definitely not serious by the way!) I’m sure by now that most of you have heard about the New York Times article by Alessandra Stanley. Stanley claims to have used intense language as literary devices to pay homage to “angry black woman”, Shonda Rhimes, a renowned African-American screenwriter, director, and producer.
Honestly, I think it’s crazy that the article was even published due to the cultural insensitivity of the editors. This must have been a publicity stunt for the NY Times because the backlash has been incredible. So many actors, actresses, and television personalities have taken to twitter to voice their opinions on the disrespect Rhimes received.
As a woman of color attending a PWI, Predominantly White Institution, I have often found myself trying my hardest not to fulfill all the horrible stereotypes that are associated with what I look like. Being one of the 2 African-American females of the 199 in the PhD Program has bothered me so much that I have gone to extra lengths to blend. For example, I started wearing glasses to look smarter and blend with everyone else in my lab who wore glasses. I felt like I had to make myself look smarter because I looked different from everyone else. I wanted to look like I was intelligent because I feared that they thought I was not. Honestly, sometimes I feel like the more that I advance in my education, the more I feel like I have to diminish the things that make me unique from my counterparts.
It’s hard enough with the pressures I put on myself; having the pressures of the media reinforcing the stereotypes is definitely overbearing. Television shows such as “Love and Hip Hop” and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” showcase African-American women in dramatic situations that acknowledged the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype. However, watching shows like “Scandal” encourage me to embrace my authority as a woman of power in today’s culture. I finally have a modern show on TV with a strong African-American woman doing amazing things. The last show I watched liked that was “The Cosby’s”. Clair Huxtable taught me that women of color can actually have careers, have a family, and still be on top of it all. It’s so important to have those depictions of African-American women on television, and I’m glad they are there. The backhanded compliments of Alessandra Stanley were definitely unnecessary, uncalled for, and setback the advancement of women of color in the media. I can’t wait for the highly anticipated show “How to Get Away With Murder” so I can have another example of woman doing AMAZING things.
Follow @myhealthimpact for more on current topics impacting our health.
July 30, 2014
Not to generalize all men but I know that the guys around my house used to absolutely despise going to the doctor because they felt like it was a waste of time. They believed that ALL could be healed with anything in the medicine cabinet and band-aids. This was my Dad before he suffered from a heart attack. These days I feel like our family dynamic is a little different. My Dad definitely doesn’t mind going to the doctor now and instead suggests healthy options at the dinner table.
My Mother and I are the only two females in my household and although my Dad has taken a different role in the health of our family, at the end of the day, the women keep things realistic and rational. There are many food options that my Dad brings to the table, but we (the women) figure out how to make these things work for our family or how to politely tell him “No, we’ll pass on that one”. From incorporating more fish, chicken and turkey into our diets and working out pork and beef to even starting our own family garden, our family has been made a complete lifestyle change. What’s an idea without someone to put it into action? Right, just an idea.
I believe that women play a huge role in men’s health. Typically because women are more aware of the signs of pending health issues thus sending up a red flag and ensuring that the men (in our families) see a doctor. So let's just face it, we are the backbone!
In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State
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