Sterilization of Black Women

In Frances Beale article “Double Jeopardy” To Be Black and Female one of the most shocking things that I found in this article was the sterilization of black women in America and being used as test subjects for medicine. From a previous class that I have taken here at the college was about the history of Native Americans in our country and we had a few day lessons on these sterilization practices that were taking place to the Native Americans women in the same manner. Just like Black women these natives Americans were being tricked into bein g sterilized by saying they were doing another procedure on them but when they came up they found out they could no longer have children. I was shocked when I learned that these practices were happening to Black women in America as well. I was also shocked that these practices were happening in other countries that were led by the united states. The practice of taking away a woman natural right to have a kid is just wrong. These women thought the government was trying to help them but in reality, they were just trying to get rid of African Americans by sterilization. On the subject of using the blacks and Puertoricans as a human test subject is just done right wrong. These people were put through terrible conditions to be able to better medicine for white people is just wrong. 

Black Women in Medicine

With me majoring in the STEM field I decided to talk about Black Women in medicine in the black freedom struggle, and how its still a issue we are facing today. First, I just want to remind you all of the discriminatory health practices that African American women had to go through from slavery through the post- Civil rights era. Although there have been some improvements made to protect the health of Black Women, there is still light that needs to be shined on for the present day epidemiology of sexual and reproductive health inequalities amount Black women. Its not new news that healthcare is influenced by racism. When you think about the institutional racism you have to add in how poverty, living segregation, and unemployment makes Black women more open to the inequalities of health outcomes. In the black freedom struggle it was hard for Black women to get jobs that paid them enough for everyday things. So when it came to healthcare they took what they could afford and majority of the time it wasn’t the best. Looking at this through a historical lens you can see how back in the black freedom struggle there wasn’t many culturally appropriate programs or treatments that was affordable, or offered. Lastly, the final point I want to touch on is how one health issue may apply to a white woman, may not also be a issue that a black woman is facing.

Historical Writing

Historical Writing

Historical writing, like other disciplinary writing, comes in multiple forms—the historical narrative, historiographical essay, and, of course, theoretical/methodological essays/think pieces (Brown/Higginbotham).

The historical narrative, or for our course, the research paper, uses storytelling or narrative writing to make an argument about the past. Consequently, all of the evidence, analyses, and argumentation is manifested through and by the story. There are two approaches to historical narratives—those driven by the narrative itself, that is, plot, protagonist, etc . . . ,  the analytical/thematic approach, or a combination of the two.

Historian Ashley Farmer’s Ashley Farmer’s “In Search of the Black Women’s History_Archive” engages recent scholarship to speak to the ways that the “archive” is contested through power dynamics, reflecting both silences and over-representation of particular kinds of records.  Literary scholar, Saidiya Hartman also highlights this dynamic in her “An Unnamed Girl, a Speculative History. ”

The Black Women : An Anthology

While reading this article by Toni Cade Bambara, it opened my eyes and made me appreciate black women even more than I already do. Bambara states “Most Black women have to work to help house, feed, and clothe their families. Black women make up a substantial percentage of the black working force, and this is true for the poorest Black family as well as the so-called ‘middle-class’ family.” As I thought more and more about this particular quote, it made me realize that women were the true breadwinners during this time period but were portrayed as the ones to do the easy work. Bambara also says “A women who stays at home caring for children and the house often leads an extremely sterile existence. She must lead her entire life as a satellite to her mate.” I 100% disagree with this considering how women were the stepping ground during that time period and even now. Women are the foundation to any and everything, black women especially. Black women has sacrificed so much for our black men that we sometimes forget to appreciate them and thank them for all they’ve done for us. I can honestly say that this article hit home with the idea that Black women aren’t appreciated as much as they should be. Also, taking into consideration that they are either downplayed or swept under the rug for achieving the greatness they achieve.

Natural Hair, Don’t Care

For black women, and other women of color in general, hair has always been an issue. Not only is it difficult enough to get a job with an “ethnic-sounding” name, but our natural “nappy” hair is seen in most settings as unprofessional. For example, if you’d like to do a little experiment so you can see for yourself, do a quick Google image search. First, search “professional hair”. Then search “unprofessional hair”. Unless Google has suddenly done an update in their imagery, you’ll likely find that under “professional” styles, there are a lot of white women with straightened hair. But not only that, there are several images of black women with straightened styles. However, the unprofessional category is almost entirely composed of women of color with their natural curls in a fluffy afro or even pulled into afro puffs. The world has been force feeding women of color the idea that their natural hair is something to be ashamed of. But black women have started to fight back.

The Natural Hair Movement was popularized during the 1960s and 70s with the Black Panther women rocking their afros, and black women have been carrying the fight since then and turned it into festivals of celebration for themselves. Natural Hair Festivals are increasingly popular and have spread across the sea even. For some black women, freedom just means keeping their hair healthy and having society accept that our hair isn’t meant to be straightened repeatedly.

Profiting From the Myths About Black Women’s Bodies

In a 2016 TIMES article, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley explores the myth of the black vagina.The article addresses the lawsuit of Jacquline Fox who sued Johnson and Johnson for not adequently advertising that its products contain talc which is known to cause cancer. The talc based product, baby powder is a product that was once aggressively advertised to black women. Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder has been a culture of self care for black women for many years. As we’ve discussed in class, black women have always gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to equality in our society and have to work three times as hard to be respected. This ties in with the latter part of the article where Tinsley states “If racism posits that blacks reek, and misogyny teaches us that vaginas are rank, how difficult does it become for black women to love the scent of our healthy vaginas?” (Tinsley, TIMES). Black women are constantly being examined and made out to be not worthy of respect. This article sheds light on the harm being done to black womens body and how company like Johnson & Johnson are enablers of a very old stereotypes of black women. This article also engages in the conversation of self care for black women and how maybe our definition of what that means is changing. 

The article can be found here.

An Unnamed Girl, A Speculative History

“It was not the kind of image I was looking for when I set out to tell the story of the social revolution and transformation of intimate life that unfolded in the black city-within-the-city. I had been searching for photographs unequivocal in their representation of what it meant to live free for the second and third generations born after the official end of slavery.”

“The official documents I found in my search produced someone else entirely. In them, I found delinquents, whores, average Negroes in actuarial tables, incorrigible children, and disorderly women. In the statistical chart, the social survey, and the slum photograph, she seemed so small, so insignificant. Everything else loomed large—the condition of the tenements, the perils of the ghetto, the moral dangers of the kitchenette, the risks presented by too many bodies forced into the cramped rooms of the lodging house.”

First Short Essay

Black Women in the Black Freedom Struggle

Please respond to ONE prompt. The responses must be written in essay form, at least 3 full and no more than 5 pages. The essay must be double spaced, 1” margins, and in 12 font (Times New Roman). Please use Chicago Manual of Style. Due February 14 by 4pm

  1. What does historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham mean by the “metalanguage of race”? Use her three-pronged conceptualization as an analytical tool to make sense of black women’s activism, including the different struggles against “Jane Crow” or “triple oppression” as represented in (no more than three articles/primary sources” the course readings.
  2. How did black women activists conceptualize “freedom” during the Great Depression and Cold War eras?Considering black women’s activism inside and outside protest and labor organizations, such as the Communist Party or the AFL-CIO, explain how and why Cold War era politics proffered both political opportunities and political constraints for black women activists.
  3. Considering Belinda Robnett’s and Charles Payne’s essays, and examining black women leaders in the black freedom struggle, apply the two scholars’ ideas of leadership, (micro)mobilization, and social change as a way to explain black women’s activism in the black freedom struggle (using no more than three articles/primary sources).


Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor’

Ever since Kamala Harris declared her candidacy I’ve been seeing a lot of varying comments about her on social media, namely from my peers. There are some who are calling her “problematic” while others state that “there’s more than meets the eye” when it comes to her policies and that people should “do their research” before throwing shade her way. While the piece that I’ve shared is an opinion piece, I hope it sparks more conversation, especially considering Nancy MacLean’s article.

Here’s an additional link to the article

When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy

When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy

By Brent Staples

“Americans are being forced to chose between a cherished lie and a disconcerting truth as they prepare to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020. The lie holds that the amendment ended a century-long struggle by guaranteeing women the right to vote. The truth is that it barred states from denying voting rights based on gender but “guaranteed” nothing. More than a dozen states had already granted millions of women voting rights before ratification, and millions of other women — particularly African-Americans in the Jim Crow South — remained shut out of the polls for decades afterward.”