The 2020 U.S. vote sees Democrat’s making efforts to put Black women’s health concerns at the forefront

The health care delivery system in the U.S has created a situation in which black women are three to four times more likely to die than their white counterparts. While there are a multitude of factors that contribute to this dynamic, democrats such as Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are arguing that it really all boils down to prejudice. Doctors and nurses don’t give as much precedence to black mothers’ health concerns as they do white women. This has resulted in a huge disparity as well as a growing mortality rate amongst black mothers.

Consequently, as the 2020 vote approaches, Democrats seem to be following the strategy of garnering the support of their most influential allies, black women. The push for a celebration of “Black Maternal Health Week”, as well as the different economic approaches being offered to incentivize hospitals to take better care of the women of color that visit them, are some of the ways in which Democrats hope to rally support. While the political motives of this growing narrative are explicit, it is an undeniably good start to increasing the attention towards the racial bias that black mothers in the U.S. face.

Saving America from itself: A miscomprehension of Black women’s political involvement

The election of Doug Jones instead of Roy Moore in 2017 for Alabama’s senate bid was a result of 98% of black women voting for Doug Jones instead of the disgraced judge. This resulted in an applause for black women from across all demographics such as white women. Often times, there is a pattern that media outlets and common rhetoric takes when black women play a role in deterring the U.S from making a decision that has the potential of dire consequences. However, this is very much an unfair expectation to have towards a group of people that most of America is comfortable sidelining when it comes to addressing issues of social injustice. Statistics that show black women voting overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump should not tell a story of saviors but rather of endurance and survivors of oppression. Black women’s role in the U.S is not to save the citizens from themselves; this is not a possibility when women of color don’t enjoy the same benefits as their fellow citizens


“Black Women in Defense of Ilhan Omar”  

This week saw several significant and powerful black women activists and politicians rallying in Washington, DC in support of Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to be sworn into congress in 2018. This comes at a time where Omar’s been the recent target of attack for Trump’s random tweets. As a politician who is known for being critical of U.S foreign policy as well as its method of addressing issues such as Islamophobia, Omar has been a controversial figure since her time in congress began. The combined effect of her words being misconstrued and made out to be anti-Semitic as well as her identity as a black, Muslim, woman have made her the repetitive subject of criticism and distaste amongst conservatives. Moreover, the lack of support from her own Democratic party, was an issue activists like Angela Davis as well as politicians like Rep. Ayanna Pressley wanted to address.

However, despite the unfortunate circumstances that led up to this rally, I feel that it was an important and necessary step in addressing the often negative and even dangerous rhetoric that Trump promotes regarding black women. This is an issue often forgotten due to his simultaneous attacks on different groups but rallies such as this have the potential of making his rants against black women finally take precedence.

What the ‘Mississippi Appendectomy’ says about the regard of the state towards the agency of black women’s bodies

 Practices such as birth control, sterilization, and other forms of contraception have been a means to control and choose the functions of our reproductive organs for decades. However, it is important to remember that everything has a background history that may not paint as pretty a picture as one would like to think. Birthed from the eugenics movement, practices of contraception are still a controversial matter as they carry with them the history of states in the U.S targeting and deciding who was allowed or desired to reproduce; the targets, of course, were more often than not black women whose economic standing in society served as a tool to subjugate them to such situations.

As a result, in some parts of the south, this gave rise to a phenomenon known as the ‘Mississippi Appendectomy’ in the 1920s-1980s. The ‘Mississippi Appendectomy’, was the medical practice that provided involuntary sterilization to poor, black, women who were deemed unfit to reproduce. The term itself was coined by Fannie Lou Hammer, who was a civil rights activist that wanted to raise awareness on the issue due to experience of going into the hospital to have a tumor removed but was instead sterilized. During this time, states such as North Carolina and Mississippi saw almost 8,000 states being sterilized, 85% of whom were women and 40% of whom were women of color.

In the book, “Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty”, Dorothy Roberts writes:

“During the 1970s sterilization became the most rapidly growing form of birth control in the United States, rising from 200,000 cases in 1970 to over 700,000 in 1980. It was a common belief among Blacks in the South that Black women were routinely sterilized without their informed consent and for no valid medical reason. Teaching hospitals performed unnecessary hysterectomies on poor Black women as practice for their medical residents.”

This, of course, was passed as state law under the pretense that the sterilization was only provided to those with disabilities or those that were deemed to be too ‘promiscuous’ or ‘feebleminded’ to have children. This was the case with Elaine Riddick, a 14-year-old black girl whose social worker decided it was best to sterilize her due to her falling pregnant after having been raped and assaulted by her neighbor.

Although this is not an in-depth study of the phenomena, it certainly provides a perspective on the methods in which black women’s rights on something as fundamental and personal as their own bodies was taken for granted as state property.